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The boathouse plays host to many community events, including the annual Latin Jazz Festival.
But it has great cultural significance to more than Hispanics. Chicago has the largest concentration of Poles outside of Poland.
Poles in Chicago are a part of worldwide Polonia, the proper term for the Polish Diaspora outside of Poland.
Readily available jobs in Chicago at the end of the Civil War and the rebuilding of the city after the 1871 Chicago fire were large draws for immigrants to make a good life.
Poles, like the Norwegians, Swedes, and Germans, continued the tradition of using Humboldt Park as a public gathering spot.At the south end of the park there is a Band Shell. Many have met and married in Chicago in Humboldt Park since 1905 when crowds came to listen to music played from a large gramophone.
In 1891 the Park was even the site of the celebration of Polish Constitution Day – since it could not be celebrated in occupied and partitioned Poland at the time.
The Tadeusz Kosciuszko equestrian statue was erected in 1904 to honor a national hero of both America and Poland. General Tadeusz Kosciuszko fought as a colonel in the American Revolution. Kosciuszko was later imprisoned and exiled by the Russians after the 1794 insurrection of Poland.
The equestrian statue of Kosciuszko and the parade was moved downtown in the mid 1970s. Kosciuszko now stands on Solidarity Boulevard at the Museum Campus.
From 1905 the Park became the suite of the annual commemoration of May 3rd Polish Constitution Day.
In 1915 polish pianist, composer, spokesman, politician, statesman and future Prime Minister of Poland Ignace Jan Paderewski delivered- here in the park - a famous address where he rallied Poles and Chicagoans to the cause of a free and independent Poland.
Paderewski played an important role in meeting with President Woodrow in obtaining the explicit inclusion of independent Poland as point 13 in President Wilson's 14 point peace terms in 1918, at the League of Nations.
The history entrenched in this park is as long and winding as the lives that have been touched here.
Cover photo credit drum679 via Instagram.