The Stories of Immigration to Chicago

Immigrants learned that to survive and prosper in a hostile urban environment of unleashed capital, they needed to stick together. Mutual aid societies and houses of worship provided support and kept their histories and languages alive. The strong communal bonds that could in effect relocate a European village to a single tenement are evident today in many of Chicago’s neighborhoods. While the points of origin may have changed over the years, Chicago continues to welcome a significant immigrant population.

Decades of Immigrants
Examine Chicago’s top immigrant groups decade by decade, in U.S. Census data from 1850 until 1990. Each year highlights a different country of origin from the top five immigrant groups of that year.

1850 (France)
1860 (Scotland)
1870 (Norway)
1880 (Ireland)
1890 (England)
1900 (Bohemia)
1910 (Austria)
1920 (Russia)
1930 (Germany)
1940 (Sweden)
1950 (Poland)
1960 (Italy)
1970 (Mexico)
1980 (Philippines)
1990 (Korea)


The use of the word ‘lure‘ in the image above without mentioning that (im)migration is a such a big decision that to imply that a whole group (im)migrates because of only one reason seems troublesome. 

(im)migration involves both push and pull factors. People will often be prompted to leave their country because of a push factor (war, economy, environment), then they choose which country to go to for it’s pull factor (liberal immigration policy, availability of jobs and availability of freedoms). 

Although interesting, many of these synopses are so oversimplified as to be misleading.