Maintaining the Polish Culture in Wicker Park

By Ariana Ornelas | June 19, 2015

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Zygmunt Dyrkacz a polish resident in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago is the owner of the highly praised Chopin Theater, which he owns with his wife. The couple moved to the neighborhood in 1990 when the area was dangerous.

“The neighborhood was the worst in Chicago between gangs of Cabrini Green and gangs of Humboldt Park,” Dyrkacz said. “It was important [to buy the dilapidated theater] because people would not come to the neighborhood that was unsafe.”

The neighborhood was also the home to many Polish residents, making Chicago the city with the second largest polish population. Adam Aksnowicz who works at The Polish Museum of America says that Chicago has dropped to the fifth largest city.

“Now things changed after Poland joined the European Union,” Aksnowicz said, “Poles started staying in Europe because there are now more opportunities for them in Europe.”

Aksnowicz says that although the polish culture is dying down in Wicker Park, “It’s a great place to work, I definitely keep academically minded,” he said, “People from all over the country come here to learn about their Polish history and culture.”IMG_0011

After visiting the historic Polonia Triangle, boundaries being Division Street, Milwaukee and Ashland Avenues, and its surroundings, and talking to a few people, it is only then one can really understand just how much losing the cultured community really impacts the residents of the neighborhood but also how a few in the neighborhood still manage to keep the culture alive and continue to prosper in life.

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