Located 3 Miles Southwest of The Loop.
Neighborhoods include: Bridgeport
Zip Codes Include: 60608, 60609, 606165
Bridgeport is bounded, generally, on the north by the South Branch of the Chicago River, on the west by Bubbly Creek (the river’s South Fork), on the south by Pershing Road, and on the east by the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Neighboring community areas are the Lower West Side across the river to the north, McKinley Park to the west, New City to the south, and Armour Square to the east. Famous for being the historical center of the Cook County Democratic Party, Bridgeport was the home of five Chicago mayors. At times featured in the national spotlight for its racial intolerance, Bridgeport today ranks as one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.
The Chinese influence in Bridgeport has also followed in the tradition of ethnic groups in the neighborhood establishing places of worship, with the Ling Shen Ching Tze Buddhist Temple on West 31st Street being established in 1992.
Historically, much of the neighborhood was initially an Irish-American enclave. In the 1830s, large numbers of immigrants from Ireland started settling in this working-class neighborhood. Many of the same Irish immigrants who helped build the Erie Canal later came to Chicago to work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Because of inadequate funding for the project, the State of Illinois began issuing “Land Scrip” to the workers rather than paying them with money. A large number of those Irish-Americans who received the scrip used it to purchase canal-owned land at the northern end of the canal where it meets the south branch of the Chicago River. The original Bridgeport village, named “Hardscrabble,” centered here on what is now the diagonal section of Throop Street on the northwest side of the Bridgeport community area. The area later became known as Bridgeport because of its proximity to a bridge on the Chicago River that was too low to allow safe passage for boats, so cargo had to be unloaded there. Finley Peter Dunne later wrote about this area in popular sketches around the turn of the 20th century. Dunne’s protagonist, Mr. Dooley, lived on “Archey Road” (present day Archer Avenue, Chicago) in Bridgeport. Bridgeport is also home to many Italian-Americans, as is its smaller neighbor to the east, Armour Square.
Although the Irish are Bridgeport’s oldest and arguably most famous ethnic group, Bridgeport has also been home to a large number of other groups. Many Lithuanian-Americans settled along Lituanica Avenue, which runs between 31st Street and 38th Place one block west of Halsted Street in what was once called “Lithuanian Downtown” and the center of Lithuanian settlement in Chicago. Today, there are also large numbers of first and second generation Mexican-Americans and Chinese-American who, like the Irish immigrants of the 19th century, have settled in the Bridgeport area due to its affordable housing and proximity to their work.
Bridgeport’s Polish history is most visibly represented in its two churches in the Polish Cathedral style: St. Mary of Perpetual Help, and St. Barbara. The Art Institute of Chicago has done restoration work on the paintings in the Shrine Altars at St. Mary of Perpetual Help which date back to 1890, with further plans calling for restoration of the stained glass windows and to complete the painting of the interior ceilings and rotunda.
The area is served by the Chicago Transit Authority’s Orange Line at the Halsted and Ashland stations, although Ashland is technically a few blocks outside of the neighborhood.
• Total 31,925
• Density 15,000/sq mi (5,900/km2)
• White 35.1%
• Black 2.1%
• Hispanic 27.0%
• Asian 34.5%
• Other 1.3%