Greystone Buildings

W Hirsch St & N California Ave Chicago

Humboldt Park/Greystone Buildings
Chicago Cultural Alliance
Written By Chicago Cultural Alliance

Pioneering authentic and thought-provoking programs that connect, support and promote a more diverse and inclusive Chicago.

These greystones are the legacy of the German-American community in Humboldt Park.

The large homes lent themselves well as places where extended families could live together and pool their resources, and this became an important survival strategy for many families during the Great Depression.

The outbreak of WWI had a profound impact on the German-American community of Chicago.

Once prominent and vital to Chicago’s civic life and culture, individuals once publicly choosing to identify with their German heritage seem to virtually disappear from public life in Chicago after the outbreak of the war.

Americanization campaigns had begun and many Germans found it difficult and painful to publicly identify with their German heritage.

Many German-Americans made the choice to Americanize their names, adopt English as their only language, and cease public celebrations important to the German community.

1445 N California was the home of Rabbi Emil G Hirsch, a pillar in Chicago's cultural and social growth, who was active on the Parks Committee, and a founder of the Chicago Public Library.

There is a high school named after him, as well as Hirsch Street. It is important to note that until WWI was underway, Emil Hirsch self identified and was identified as "German not Jewish" until he succumbed to Americanization pressures as well.

Cover photo credit nebnice via Instagram.

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