This story originally appeared in the Edwardsville Intelligencier
Lincoln Place: Steel Bridge Across Cultures will tell the inspiring story of Granite City’s Lincoln Place neighborhood in words, pictures, and artifacts on Friday, April 4, at the Southwestern Illinois College Sam Wolf Granite City Campus Commons, 4950 Maryville Road. Exhibits will open for viewing at 5 p.m. The program will begin at 6 p.m.
Thousands of immigrants from many points on the globe arrived in Granite City, Illinois, in the early twentieth century, drawn by employment in heavy industry. Many settled in a ten-square-block area between the railroad and the Mississippi, in the shadow of the steel mills.
Known first as “Hungary Hollow” and later as Lincoln Place, the neighborhood became home to Hungarians, Macedonian Bulgarians, Armenians, Mexicans, and people of more than thirty other nationalities, making it one of the most ethnically diverse places in southwestern Illinois. This cross section of the world made distinctive contributions to the world, including the first Macedono-Bulgarian Orthodox church in the Americas, a Bulgarian-language newspaper read internationally, and a tradition of athletic achievement that carried the 1940 Granite City High School basketball team to a state championship victory.
The program will feature presentations exploring Lincoln Place’s history and culture by several local experts, including Norma Asadorian, Marvin Moehle, and Robert Galvan. A panel discussion with audience participation will offer opportunities to share memories of life in the neighborhood and to contemplate how lessons from its past might be applied in the present and the future.
Traditional costumes, sports memorabilia, photographs, publications, and other artifacts representing Lincoln Place will be on display in the History Room adjacent to the Commons starting at 5pm. The Lincoln Place Heritage Association will sell traditional ethnic pastries.
The Illinois Humanities Council, the Lincoln Place Heritage Association, and the Southwestern Illinois College Sam Wolf Granite City Campus will present Lincoln Place: Steel Bridge Across Cultures with assistance from Celebrate Granite City and the Six Mile Regional Library District. The event is free to the public, though reservations are recommended and can be made by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the IHC website, www.prairie.org. For more information, please contact Illinois Humanities Council program officer Matt Meacham at (312) 422-5589 or by email email@example.com
The program will be part of the 2014 Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival, coordinated by the Missouri Humanities Council. The festival celebrates the humanities in the St. Louis region April 1-6, exploring the theme “Migration and Mobility.” Through a series of programs about history, literature, film, and politics, some of the area’s leading cultural and educational institutions will examine connections among migration, immigration, and culture, both locally and around the world. All events are open to the public and most are free. More information can be found at mohumanities.org/festival.
“We’re honored that our friends at the Missouri Humanities Council invited us to participate in the Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival,” said Meacham. “When we learned that the festival theme is ‘Migration and Mobility,’ we immediately thought of the Lincoln Place Heritage Association, which has done an extraordinary job of documenting its community’s culture and history. We’re excited to share their fascinating artifacts and captivating stories with the public.”