Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, “Welcome to Andersonville,” Andersonville Chamber of Commerce,

A neighborhood on Chicago’s north side, Andersonville is known for its Swedish roots, historic architecture, and bustling urban main street, Clark Street. When you arrive in Andersonville, you feel you have arrived someplace special. While our roots are Swedish, we are also recognized as the “shop local capital of Chicago,” supporting the largest network of local and independent businesses in the area. Home to one of Chicago’s largest LGBTQ+ populations, Andersonville is a community full of
pride and a commitment to equality. Andersonville is for everyone.

We are also a neighborhood of stories. With over 325 businesses in the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce membership, we hope you discover a few of these stories by visiting Andersonville and meeting our business owners face-to-face. Each is unique, and each has a reason for loving this neighborhood.


Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, “History of Andersonville,” Andersonville Chamber of Commerce,”

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, wooden homes were outlawed in Chicago. Swedish immigrants, who could not afford to build homes of stone or brick, began to move outside of the city’s northern limits. Swedish immigrants continued to arrive in Andersonville through the beginning of the 20th century, settling in the newly built homes surrounding Clark Street. Before long, the entire commercial strip was dominated by Swedish businesses, from delis to hardware stores, shoe stores to blacksmiths, and bakeries to realty companies. The local churches, such as Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church, First Evangelical Free Church and St. Gregory’s Roman Catholic Church, were also built by Swedes, and reflected the religious diversity of the new arrivals.

Like most other European-American ethnic groups, Swedes began to move to the suburbs during the Depression and post-war periods, and the neighborhood began to decline. Concerned about the deteriorating commercial situation, the Uptown Clark Street Business Association renewed its commitment to its Swedish heritage by renaming itself the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. On October 17, 1964, Andersonville was rededicated in a ceremony attended by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. The following summer, the annual Swedish tradition of celebrating the summer solstice blossomed into Midsommarfest, which has since grown into one of Chicago’s largest and most popular street festivals.


While some of the Swedish-owned businesses gave way to stores and restaurants owned by Koreans, Lebanese, and Mexicans, many remained in Andersonville, serving the remaining second and third-generation Swedes as well as the new arrivals to the neighborhood. The Swedish American Museum was founded in 1976, by Kurt Mathiasson, as a grassroots effort to preserve and disseminate the history of the great contributions of early Swedish immigrants to Chicago. The Museum was opened to the public in a ceremony attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who returned in 1988 to dedicate new and larger quarters at 5211 North Clark Street. The Museum has since undergone several phases of growth, including the 2001 addition of the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration and the 2009 renovation of the lobby and façade.

In the late 1980s, Andersonville began a period of revival as new groups discovered its lovely housing stock, easy access to downtown Chicago and the lakefront, and unique commercial district. A large lesbian and gay population developed, spurred by the opening of such businesses as Women & Children First, a bookstore focusing on feminist authors and topics. New gift shops and ethnic eateries opened and gave Clark Street a new commercial vitality and diversity.


Andersonville remains one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage in the United States, but its residents and businesses represent a wide array of cultures. In March, 2010, the Andersonville business area was named a National Historic District because of its rich cultural and architectural history.

The Historic Andersonville commercial district, along Clark Street and Ashland Avenue, is comprised mostly of early twentieth century commercial architecture. Included in the historically significant buildings are a number of two- and three-story commercial brick buildings with limestone ornamentation. One of the best examples is the Temple Theater building, located at 5233 North Clark Street – now home to Women & Children First Books. A two story brick building with limestone ornamentation with string courses and geometric patterns, this building is a typical example of an Andersonville commercial structure.

You can take a self-guided tour of “Historic Andersonville!” This historic tour map and tour handout will take you on a 20-minute walking tour of historically significant buildings throughout the commercial area. Remember to stop, shop, and eat too!


LeRoy Blommaert, “Andersonville or Andersenville – What difference does a letter make?,” Edgewater Historical Society Scrapbook 22, no. 2 (summer 2011)

There was a Reverend Paul Andersen, however, and A.T. Andreas in his “History of Chicago (Vol. 1)” published in 1884, provides a short history of his life and work. He was born in Norway in 1821 and came to Chicago in January, 1848, where he soon founded the First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. He also assisted a group of new Swedish immigrants to Chicago. This group would eventually become the first Swedish Lutheran Church established in Chicago, the Swedish Immanuel Lutheran Church now in Edgewater at Elmdale and Greenleaf (Editor’s note: street is Greenview.)

His major claim to fame (written from the Anglo-Saxon Protestant perspective) is that he was responsible for having at least some services conducted in the English language. He was a pastor in Chicago for 12 years. In 1860, for health reasons, he left Chicago for Europe intending, according to sources at the time, to live out the remainder of his years there, but he came back in 1864. Back in the United States, he worked not in the ministry but in “revenue service.” In 1876, he answered a call to ministry from the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Milwaukee and served as pastor there until July, 1883, when he retired permanently from the ministry and returned to the Chicago area. And here is where the story becomes interesting. Andreas says “He now lives in Lake View, on North Clark St, near North Fifty-Ninth St.” Fifty-Ninth St. is now as Foster Ave.

Thus, Reverend Andersen lived in or near Andersonville and, sure enough, the 1883-84 Lake View Directory shows him at that location but, in a delicious bit of irony for us today, spells his name as Anderson – with an O! The 1886 directory did the same. He is absent from the 1887 directory. His obituary in the Chicago Tribune (10/15/1891), using the E spelling, confirms most of Andreas’ narrative and adds that he later moved to Colorado and died there at La Jara on October 11, 1891.


Edgewater Historical Society, “Andersonville and Edgewater,” Scrapbook 14, no. 3 (Summer 2003),

The name Andersonville came from the name of a farmer and landholder, John Anderson who, in the late 1840s acquired the land south of Foster and west of Ashland. The land became known as the Anderson subdivision, and then as early as 1850, Andersonville.

Editor’s note: Subsequent research reveals that Andersonville came from the Andersonville subdivision which was named in honor of the Reverend Paul Anderson, a Norweigan.

In 1853 the township of Ridgeville extended north from Graceland (Irving Park Road) to Central in Evanston and from the lake to Western Avenue. In 1855 John Anderson was elected highway commissioner of Ridgeville. The north section of Ridgeville took the name of Evanston in 1857. What had been Ridgeville, south of Devon, was organized as Lakeview Township by its citizens that same year, at a meeting in a four-room schoolhouse at Foster and Clark. That old school house was known as the Andersonville school. The replacement building, the Trumbull School at 5200 N. Ashland, was completed and opened in 1908.

In 1865 Lakeview Township gained official status from the State as a town. The population grew gradually as the farmland exchanged hands and was subdivided. Irish, Swedes, Germans and Luxembourgers settled in the area. Some worked truck farms, others tended bar or managed bars and restaurants. The first buildings were wooden with stove heat and no electricity. The Anderson name appeared on several neighborhood businesses including Anderson Lumber just west of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad tracks, and later the Anderson Monument Company at Rosehill and Ravenswood. Many of the Swedish settlers were involved in the trades and the construction of substantial buildings began in earnest after 1900.

In 1887, Lakeview organized a government with seven wards. The 7th ward included the area north of Foster. It was sparsely settled with only 300 registered voters. At this same time John Lewis Cochran began subdividing the land from Foster to Bryn Mawr from Sheridan west to Broadway. He planned a suburb which he named Edgewater. In 1889 the Town of Lakeview voted to become part of the great city of Chicago. Only the 7th ward voted against it. These two parts of Lakeview, Andersonville and Edgewater, never organized as separate towns were then closely integrated into the development of Chicago.

The names identifying adjacent settlements became intertwined as the Swedish settlement grew along Clark Street. Owners of property north of Foster sold and resold the land even before subdivision. William Henry first planned a subdivision in 1858. William Henry was speculating in land and later sold off land he decided not to develop. One parcel, the area from Foster to Balmoral, and Glenwood to Clark, was purchased by Zero Marx, a developer who named it Zero Park in 1890. But the Andersonville name stuck. Other developers, in a bow to Cochran, announced various subdivisions using Cochran’s name Edgewater. But most of the building dates from after 1900, with two outstanding exceptions at 1434 W. Foster and 1450 Summerdale.

Transportation was crucial to this development. The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad originally had stops at Summerdale, (located at Berwyn Avenue) Rosehill Drive and just south of Granville. The trains ran on the ground level but beginning in 1892 as traffic increased, the train embankments were built to make travel safer on the roads intersecting with the tracks. By 1900 the Clark Street trolley ran north to Devon and south to 111th Street thus creating an important link across the city. This Clark Street trolley line was one of the last to be withdrawn from service.

In the late 1950s. Grant Johnson, a businessman on Clark Street, suggested that the district reestablish the name Andersonville for the area. In the early 1960s the Clark Street Businessmen’s Association changed its name to the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. In 1972 the East Andersonville Residents Council was formed to include the area.

In the last 40 years, many ethnic groups have settled in the Andersonville area, including Mexican, Korean, Greek, Persian, Japanese, South American, Vietnamese and Thai. Each of them contributes to the strong, unique identity that the Andersonville name retains today.


Charles Storch, “‘Mrs. Sweden’ says goodbye,” Chicago Tribune, June 29, 2006

Technically, it was the baby of the late Kurt Mathiasson. An Andersonville restaurant owner, he was distressed by the flight of fellow Swedes to the suburbs and concerned that the story and impact of the Swedish in this city could fade. In 1976, he opened the museum in a small, rented space at 5248 N. Clark St., where he showcased the immigration experience and successes of Swedish-Americans.

In 1986, Mathiasson hired his first museum employee, Lane, a native Swede then living with her banker husband and three children in Kenilworth. (She and her husband now live in Chicago’s Old Town.) She was named executive director and paid $5 an hour.

“Mr. Mathiasson was the crazy brain child — to start something like this you have to be a little crazy,” Lane said. “I was just half-crazy.”

In 1986, the museum’s board considered moving the center elsewhere in the city or to a near suburb. Instead, it bought a building close by, at 5211 N. Clark St., a 24,000-square-foot structure built in 1906. The museum’s new home opened in 1987, but it took subsequent renovations between then and 2001 before upper floors were opened.

Under Lane, the museum’s membership has grown to 2,000 and annual attendance has hit 45,000. Its exhibits on immigration, especially hands-on ones for children, and its arts and language programs have been embraced by the new Andersonville — a home to people of various ethnic backgrounds and sexual preferences.

Ellen Shepard, executive director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, said the museum also serves a community center, with local groups using it for their functions.

She credits Lane with “keeping the Swedish culture and heritage alive in the neighborhood. Andersonville still considers itself a center of Swedish culture in the Midwest, and we get people from all over coming here.”

The museum posted a surplus of about $25,000 on a $530,000 budget in 2005. Lane said the museum relies primarily on membership fees and individual donors. The endowment is a “pittance,” Lane said, and bolstering it has become a fundraising priority.

The museum receives some funding from the city and the Illinois Arts Council but has been generally ignored by foundations, she said.



A significant number of Middle-Eastern businesses and a new influx of families with children all make this a very diverse population. Andersonville is also known for its unique commercial district, made up almost entirely of a variety of independent locally owned specialty shops, restaurants, and service providers.

The Andersonville Commercial Historic District, which runs between 4900 and 5800 N. Clark Street, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March 2010.[10] It joined the nearby residential Lakewood Balmoral Historic District.

The approximate street boundaries of Andersonville, as defined by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, are Lawrence (4800 N) to the south, Victoria (5800 N) to the north, Ravenswood (1800 W) to the west, and Magnolia (1250 W) to the east. The heart of the Andersonville commercial district is Clark and Berwyn (5300 N).[11]

The stretch of Clark St. south of Foster Ave. (where Andersonville has expanded across community boundaries into northern Uptown) is sometimes called South Foster, or SoFo. One of the more famous craft beer taverns in Chicago, Hopleaf, has long been the anchor to this part of the SoFo area. It has more recently been joined by other food and beverage establishments, as well as the Chicago Magic Lounge.


PDF file —

The Story of the Immanuel Lutheran Church – Forgotten Books › download › The…PDFP ublished in connection with the. Sevent y. —Fifth Anniversary. Celebration of the. Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church of Chicago. January. 8. 16,. 1928.

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