Avondale is in Jefferson Township, which was incorporated in 1850, to the northwest of Chicago. Avondale developed along two Indian trails which were planked, becoming the Upper and Lower Northwest Plank Roads which became Milwaukee and Elston Avenues respectively. Farmers used these roads to sell their goods at the Randolph Street Market. Avondale was incorporated as a village in 1869 and became a part of the city when Jefferson County was annexed in 1889. The city improved the local infrastructure by paving Milwaukee Avenue, extending the Milwaukee streetcar line to Jefferson Park, and building the elevated train in nearby Logan Square.
As residents moved away from the city core, Avondale became a center for manufacturing and transport, by rail and the Chicago River, to and from the city center. By 1910, the population of Avondale swelled to 38,000. A substantial portion of the population by 1930 was foreign-born. While Poles lived primarily to the west of Kedzie, Germans and Scandinavians were predominantly east of Kedzie and south of Belmont, with some Italians later entering the area. The “Polish Corridor” developed along Milwaukee Avenue from neighborhoods downtown to a cemetery in Niles. The community became familiar with empty lots as part of funeral processions along this route.
Avondale was permanently altered with the opening of the Northwest, now Kennedy Expressway in 1960. With this and an evolution of the economy, Avondale, as many urban neighborhoods, has morphed from manufacturing into a collage of arts, music and retail, and a residential population comprised of lofts, condos, and single-family homes. Much of the working class housing stock, whether two or three flats or bungalows, is being transformed into multi-unit buildings that pay homage to the neighborhood’s manufacturing red brick structures. While this area retains a largely Polish and Latino character, Avondale’s central location continues to attract a variety of cultures and ethnicities.
Thanks to Avondale and Chicago’s Polish Village by Jacob Kaplan, Dan Pogorzelski et.al., and the Encyclopedia of Chicago for background information.