Andersonville was settled in the 19th century by Swedish farmers. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 the city outlawed living in or building wooden homes. The immigrant population could not afford to build out of brick or stone and began to move out of the city proper into the suburban area north of Foster and east of Clark.
The area grew and the local commerce was dominated by Swedish businesses. Delis, blacksmiths, bakeries, shoe stores, hardware stores, and realty companies dominated the commercial strip. The first school was built in 1854. The Andersonville School sat at the corner of Foster and Clark and was the areas primary school until 1908. Andersonville is home to the Swedish American Museum. Founded in 1976 as an effort to preserve the history of the early Swedish immigrants the museums opening ceremony was attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The King returned in 1988 for the dedication of a new larger expansion at 5211 Clark Street.
Andersonville’s business area was named a National Historic District in 2010 due to the diverse cultural and architectural history. The neighborhood is a front runner in its commitment to the planet. Through the eco-Andersonville program the area has started a neighborhood composting program which offsets its commercial district recycling program. Andersonville created People Spots by turning parking spaces into places for sitting and gathering.
The annual Swedish tradition of celebrating the summer solstice, known now as Midsommarfest, has become one of Chicago’s largest and most popular street festivals. The festival includes music, dancing, food, and other sources of entertainment strongly geared towards children. Over 50,000 people flock to Clark Street to enjoy the festival.
The population in Andersonville is over 65,000 people. Of this population 48.1% are female and 51.9% are male. The area is primarily Caucasion, Hispanic, and Asian in diversity.