Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center MORE

Hanukkah Sameach!

Mayor Richard Daley assists a girl in lighting the menorah at the Civic Center at 50 West Washington Street

Happy Hanukkah from the Chicago History Museum. We wish you peace and happiness in this season of lights.

Chicago’s Jewish community began taking shape shortly after it was incorporated as a town in 1833. Jewish immigrants came to Chicago from virtually every country in Europe and the Middle East, but especially from Germany and Eastern Europe. Unlike most other immigrant groups, they left the Old Country with no thoughts of ever returning to lands where so many had experienced poverty, discrimination, and even pogroms. Many of these settlers started out as street peddlers with packs on their backs and later opened small stores in the downtown area. From these humble beginnings they later established such companies as Florsheim, Spiegel, Alden’s, Mandel Brothers, Albert Pick & Co., A. G. Becker, Brunswick, Inland Steel, Kuppenheimer, and Hart Schaffner Marx. A century later, Chicago’s 270,000 Jews (about 9 percent of the city’s population) were outnumbered only in New York City and Warsaw. By the end of the twentieth century, only about 30 percent of the entire Jewish population remained within city limits.

Learn more about Chicago’s Jewish community in our Encyclopedia of Chicago entry.

Mayor Richard J. Daley (right, wearing glasses) assists the lighting of a menorah in the Civic Center, 50 West Washington Street, Chicago, December 9, 1974. ST-11005601-0004, Chicago Sun-Times collection, CHM

The Encyclopedia of Chicago

“The Encyclopedia of Chicago is no mere collection of fun facts. It is a work of stunning scholarly achievement.” — Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times 

Published by the University of Chicago Press, The Encyclopedia of Chicago is the result of a ten-year collaboration between the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum. This project brought together hundreds of historians, journalists, and experts on everything from airlines to Zoroastrians to explore all aspects of the rich world of Chicago and its surrounding metropolitan area.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories