Portage Park is the name of the northwest side neighborhood of Chicago that I live in with Dolly. We are actually in Old Portage Park, the closest few blocks to a famous intersection called Six Corners. Six Corners is where the busy streets of Irving Park Road, which runs east to west, Cicero Avenue, which runs north to south, and Milwaukee Avenue, which runs northwest to southeast, intersect.
Created in 1913 by the Old Portage Park District, the name of the new park district, and that of its first and largest park, the name makes reference to several nearby routes used by Native Americans and fur traders to portage their canoes between the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers.
My husband and I considered ourselves urban dwellers when we bought our 1920s two-flat building in 1993. The once-thriving business area did not survive the recession of the early nineties. Many businesses moved out shortly after we moved in. Twenty years later the area continued to struggle, despite it’s new, large shopping center, and heavily trafficked intersection. The diversity of the area continues to change, originally the largest Polish community in the country, we now have large populations of Romanian, Russian and Hispanic. In the last few years, with a change of leadership in the city, and a new alderman for our ward, new restaurants, small businesses, and the arts are revitalizing the community.
Having always been an avid walker, not being able to run at all, I regularly took early morning walks to and from the park, located four blocks west of us, for my daily exercise. I am also an avid swimmer, making Portage Park’s historic Olympic-size swimming pool irresistible to me. I have swum numerous miles in the same pool that the 1972 Olympic trials were held, with Mark Spitz breaking several records. The 1939 Pan American games were also held there.
Sandra and Dolly