Andersonville Commercial Historic District

Swedes constitute a considerable ethnic group in Chicago, where a little over 15,000 people are of Swedish ancestry.[1]


Like other European ethnic groups, people left Sweden in search of better economic opportunities during the mid-1800s.

In the year 1900, Chicago was the city with the second highest number of Swedes after Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. By then, Swedes in Chicago, most of whom settled in the Andersonville neighborhood, especially in the years following the Great Chicago Fire, had founded the Evangelical Covenant Church and established such enduring institutions as Swedish Covenant Hospital and North Park University. The fire destroyed much of the Swedish-American community, including four Swedish churches, and as many Swedish newspapers.[2] Other Swedish neighborhoods included Lake View, which at its peak had about 20,000 Swedes. In addition to Chicago, Swedish immigrants settled in Rockford and other parts of Illinois.[3]

Like other Swedish-American communities, the Chicago Swedes had their own newspaper, Hemlandet (Swedish for "The Homeland"). This paper was founded by Johan Alfred Enander, who argued that the Vikings were instrumental in enabling the "freedom" that spread not only throughout the British Isles, but America as well.

Many Chicago Swedes entered the construction business as part working their way up the economic ladder, though most started as carpenters and laborers. The Gust K. Newberg Construction company has emerged as one of Chicago's most prominent architectural firms. It is estimated that Swedes have been involved in building almost half the buildings in Chicago.[2]

Today, Chicago is twinned with Gothenburg, Sweden, a testament to the longstanding connection between Sweden and the Greater Chicago Area.[4]

Organizations in Chicago preserving Swedish heritage

The following places in Chicago have been founded by Swedes or to preserve Swedish heritage:


  1. ^ "Community Facts: First Ancestry Reported, Chicago city, Illinois". 2008–2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Cutler, Irving (2 January 2020). Chicago. p. 76.
  3. ^ "The Undeveloped West or, Five Years in the Territories" Page 39, 1873
  4. ^