The Bird's Nest 13

Still a number of key institutions remain, including several funeral homes and the Home Federal bank. And two new projects represent important additions: a new community center and a major senior citizen housing facility. The latter permits elderly residents to remain in or return to the community. Recent renovations to several churches demonstrate the continuing vitality and willingness to re-invest in the neighborhood.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to the initial village pioneers is the persistence of the village and its institutions. For long-time residents the neighborhood still functions well, and it continues to attract even former residents. The village churches flourish, and they draw a steady flow of visitors who are attracted both by their beauty and the quaintness of the neighborhood. The utilitarian commercial and residential landscapes continue to demonstrate their adaptability to changed needsand times.

It is important to note the role of the village itself in this success story. By pooling their resources and helping each other, Birdtowners not only constructed a viable communitythey also made it possible for each generation to build on the successes of the previous ones. Ironically these successes ulti-;malely led to the loss of many who helped build and maintain the neighborhood.

What emerges from this story, then, is the collective struggle of immigrants and their children to succeed in the New World. To do so they created dense, tight villages that protected them from the abuses of the larger society and gave them some control over their own lives. Through the village they confronted America; from this interaction villagers created institutions and a viable culture drawn from both the Old and the New Worlds. Like newcomers throughout the United States, Birdtowners developed their own versions of American culture and experience and by so doing added to the richness and diversity of America.

The urban village stands today as a monument to migrant the South Side: Three Generations of skills and abilities at neighborhood and community development. Few twentieth-century architects, planners, or devel-opers have worked with such limited resources or had such success; few have understood so well the qualities of urban living or have so successfully integrated the elements of human scale, neighborhood interaction, and a functional mix of activities. In such neighborhoods, immigrants managed to combine the charm of Old World villages with the practicality and inventiveness of the New.

Recommended Readings

Barton Josef J. Peasants and Strangers;
Italians, Rumanians, and Slovaks in an
American City, 1890-1950.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975.

Borchert, James. "Alley Landscapes of Washington." Landscape, 3(1979): 3-10.

Cybriwsky, Roman A. "Social Aspects of Neighborhood Change." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 68(March, 1978): 17-33.

Fischer, Claude S. To Dwell Among Friends: Personal Networks in Town and City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

Gans, Herbert J.The Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian Americans.New York: Free Press, 1962.

Greenbaum, Paul E. and Susan B. Greenbaum. "Territorial Personalization: Group Identity and Social Interaction in a Slavic American Neighborhood."Environment and Behavior, 13(September, 1981): 574-89.

Kazin, Alfred.A Walker in the City.New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1951.

Pankuch, Jan.Dejiny Clevelandskych a Lakewoodskych Slovakov.Cleveland: 1930.

Pavalko, Ronald M. "The Spatial Dimension of Ethnicity."Ethnic Groups 3(1981): 111-23.

Stolarik, M. Mark.Growing Up on the South Side: Three Generations of Slovaks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1880-1976.Lewisburgh, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1985.

Wrobel, Paul.Our Way: Family, Parish, and Neighborhood in a Polish American Community.South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979.

The authors wish to thank the following organizations for support: The American Association for State and Local History; the American Historical Association (Albert J. Beveridge Memorial Grant); and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Last Updated May 24, 2000

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