Special Collections and Preservation Division
Neighborhood Research History Collection
Humboldt Park Community Collection
.25 linear ft., 46 photographs
Call number: Archives_HUM
Humboldt Park derives its name from a 207-acre park named for Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), a German naturalist whose only visit to the United States did not include Chicago. Most of the neighborhood was annexed into the city in 1869, the year the park was laid out, but settlement was slow to develop. The creation of Humboldt and several other west side parks provided beauty, and the fact that this area stood just beyond the city's fire code jurisdiction as set out after the 1871 fire made inexpensively built housing possible. Still, the neighborhood did not fully develop until the Armitage Avenue streetcar line came to it after the turn of the century. The present neighborhood of Humboldt Park is bounded by Armitage (2000 N) on the north, Chicago (800 N) on the south, Western (2400 W) on the east, and Pulaski (4000 W) on the west.
By the annexation of Jefferson Township in 1889, all of Humboldt Park came into the city limits. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, Germans and Scandinavians continued to settle in the area. By 1920, the neighborhood held some 65,00 people, of which twenty-eight percent were foreign-born, chiefly German and Norwegian. In the next decade, an ethnicity shift began, as large numbers of Italians moved in from neighborhoods to the east; other ethnic groups of considerable numbers were Poles and Russian Jews. The 1930 population of 80,000 became Humboldt Park's highest. Since then, population has been in decline. By 1960, Italians dominated the ethnic mix, and small communities of Blacks and Hispanics were developing. In 1960, Humboldt Park was ninety-nine percent white; in 1980 the population stood roughly at forty percent Hispanic, thirty percent Black, and thirty percent white. A recent statistic cited sixty separate and distinct languages and dialects being spoken by the children of the Humboldt Park schools.
The 1970s saw troubled times for Humboldt Park. In 1978, an average of three fires daily were determined to be result of arson. The neighborhood today is economically depressed, with housing median values about sixty percent of the city-wide average. Overcrowding remains a serious problem. Throughout its history, Humboldt Park has remained a neighborhood of persons "passing through," being an area in which to live while accumulating capital in order to move on.
The Humboldt Park Community Collection is a very small assemblage of material which cannot claim to document the neighborhood very thoroughly. It consists of an initial accession and one supplementary accession. Its strengths are three historical sketches (1:2, 1:3, 1:4) written in 1935 and 1940; photographs of Humboldt Park (the park not the neighborhood) dating from the turn of the century (1:5); a souvenir program from the dedication of a statue to Alexander von Humboldt (1:6), and material concerning four neighborhood schools (1:7 through 1:11).
Supplement 1 consists of two maps of the Humboldt Park community, 1937 (1:12,13), and thirty-one issues of the newspaper Northwesttown Booster, 1937-1940. The Northwesttown Booster offices were located at 3749 W. North Avenue. The issues preserved here may be unique. They are extremely fragile and great care must be given to their use.
The materials in this collection were collected by the West Side Historical Society. They were transferred to the Chicago Public Library Special Collections Division with the complete collections of the Society. Related collection s in the Neighborhood History Research Collections include those of the Belmont-Cragin Community, Lower West Side Community, Portage Park Community, and West Side Community.
Processed by G. Wilson, November 16, 1988. Updated February 1990.
The Humboldt Park Community Collection is available to the public for research in the Special Collections and Preservation Division Reading Room on the 9th floor of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60605. The collection does not circulate although photocopy and photoreproduction services are available depending upon the condition of the original materials. First time patrons to Special Collections must present a photo identification and complete a Reader Registration Form. Telephone inquiries on this collection and other Special Collections holdings can be directed to 312-747-4875.
BOX 1Biographical Data
1. Anderson, Martha N. See: Chicago
Daily News, 1938 Sep 13
Berland, Joseph. Newsclip; 1935
Bindel, Robert. Newsclip; 1934
Blustein, Hyman. Newsclip; 1935
Blustein, Ira. See: Garfieldian, 1940 Jan 30
Cotton, So. Newsclip; 1935
Dettelbach, Meyer. Newsclip; 1935
Gallis, Ed. Newsclip; 1934
Greenburg, Max. Newsclip; 1934
Kells, George. Newsclip; 1938
Ridgeway Presbyterian. See: Chicago Daily News, 1941 Apr 26, and
Garfieldian, 1941 Apr 22
Club Sionilli. See: Chicago Tribune, 1940 Sep 8
Humboldt Park Boys Club. See: Chicago Daily News, 1940 May 18
Historical Sketches and Essays
2. Anonymous, "Historical Sketch of Ward 31";
3. Bender, William C., "History of Humboldt Park"; 1940
4. Langan, Alfred J., "A Little about the North West Side"; 1940
5. Humboldt Park-Photos & postcards; 1897,
6. Dedication of Alexander von Humboldt monument; 1892
7. Cameron School-History by Herbert Merrill, 1894-1928
8. Cameron School-Miscellaneous
9. Lowell School-Program; 1940
10. Morse School-Class list, newsletter, program; 1937-1941
11. Orr School-Programs; 1939
Our Lady of Angels. See: Chicago-American, 1958 Dec 5; Chicago Daily
News,1958 Dec 2,3,5; Chicago Sun-Times, 1958 Dec 2; and Chicago
Tribune, 1958 Dec 2,4,; Garfieldian, 1958 Dec 10
Augusta Blvd. See: Austin Community Collection-Transportation-Augusta Blvd.
Kostner Ave. See: Garfieldian, 1939 Dec 28
12. Maps-Humboldt Park-Location of public recreation
and other social agencies; 1937
13. Maps-Humboldt Park-Relation of public recreation & education to
zoned areas; 1937
1.1 Keeney Grocery Market, c. 1896
1.2 John Rapp Grain and Fuel Supply, horse and wagon, 1905
2.1 P.H. Rice Malting Company, 1899
1.3 Schnieder's Barbershop, North Avenue near Keeler, interior, 1898
Clubs and Organizations
1.4 Lions Club, 4310 W, North Avenue, n.d.
1.5 Humboldt Park, pavilion exterior, from the north, c. 1896
1.6 Humboldt Park, pavilion exterior, from the south, 1896
1.7 Humboldt Park, boat house, n.d.
1.7a Humboldt Park, boat house, [color] 1909
1.8 Humboldt Park, ski jump, n.d.
1.9 Humboldt Park, wading pool, n.d.
1.10 Humboldt Park greenhouse, interior, c. 1903
2.2 Humboldt Park, conservatory, 1897
2.3 Keeney, Mrs. John M., c. 1900
1.11 Larson home, Lawndale and LeMoyne, 1879
1.12 Hjerstedt home, 1929 N. Tripp, cow in back yard, 1898
1.13 Cameron School, class of June 1941
2.7 Lowell School, class of January 1940, Photo Oversize Map Case
1.14 Lowell School, class of January 1941, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.15 Lowell School, class of January 1942, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.16 Lowell School, class of June 1942, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.17 Lowell School, class of June 1943, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.18 Lowell School, class of January 1944, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.19 Lowell School, class of June 1944, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.20 Lowell School, class of June 1945, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.21 Lowell School, class of January 1947, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.22 Lowell School, class of June 1947, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.23 Lowell School, class of January 1949, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.24 Lowell School, class of June 1949, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.25 Lowell School, class of January 1950, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.26 Lowell School, class of June 1950, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.27 Lowell School, class of January 1951
1.28 Lowell School, class of June 1951, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.29 Lowell School, class of January 1953, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.30 Lowell School, class of June 1953, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.31 Lowell School, class of January 1954
1.32 Lowell School, class of June 1954, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.33 Lowell School, class of June 1955, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.34 Lowell School, class of January 1956, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.35 Lowell School, class of June 1956, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.36 Morse School, class of June 1937, Photo Oversize Box 1
2.4 Morse School, class of January 1941, Photo Oversize Box 1
1.37 Orr School, class of 1940
2.5 Ryerson School, class of February 1932, Photo Oversize Box 1
2.6 Ryerson School, class of June 1931, Photo Oversize Map Case
1.38 North Avenue and Crawford [now Pulaski], 1907
1.39 Tripp Avenue Railroad Depot (Chicago, Minnesota & St. Paul Railroad), c. 1903