No matter what part of the city you’re coming from, getting to University Village/Little Italy isn’t difficult. Aside from the Pink and Blue line stops at UIC and the Medical District, more than eight bus routes snake through the neighborhood. While taking the 8 north up Halsted is the easiest way to bisect the neighborhood, you get an impromptu lesson in Chicago history if you take an east-west route. Driving west brings passengers near the Jane Addams Hull House, the site of the former ABLA homes, and the Original Al’s Italian Beef.
Both “University Village” and “Little Italy” could be considered misnomers—titles that describe the neighborhood by certain identities as others have been successively carved away. In fact, the story of this neighborhood contains many of the processes of change that mark the history of Chicago at large: the rise and fall of public housing, shifts in demographics, and urban renewal. Continue reading