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Chicago is a diverse and colorful city, painted and characterized by the immigrants who made it what it is today. With religious, social and economic pressures becoming increasingly heavy-handed on the Jews throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, many western and eastern European Jews looked to America as a place of opportunity.
While most immigrants came in through New York, and many settled there, others looked farther west for a place to call home. Farther west was Chicago, a city that was already an American industrial and commercial giant. These massive machinations needed massive amounts of laborers, which drew tens of thousands of people, regardless of race or creed, towards the heart of the Midwest.
For reasons of language and culture, the different immigrant groups coming to Chicago tended to stay together, which is reflected in Chicago’s modern-day social topology—Greek Town, Korea Town, Chinatown, Ukranian Village, etc. Many of Chicago’s neighborhoods are reflections of their immigrant past, and though the Jewish population has spread to different areas throughout the city over the past 150 years, there are still landmarks and artifacts pointing to significant moments in Chicago Jewish history.