A common trend among most European-American ethnic groups, including the Swedes, was moving to the suburbs during the Depression and post-war periods. By 1930, first-generation Swedes accounted for 20 – 24 percent of the local population. Andersonville declined in the 1930’s through the 1950’s as the Swedes moved but started to slowly make a comeback in the 1960’s. There was a horrible commercial business climate in the area and in an effort to revive the local economy, the Uptown Clark Street Business Association strengthened its commitment to its Swedish heritage by renaming itself the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. On October 17, 1964 Andersonville was rededicated in a ceremony attended by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. At about the same time, the annual Swedish tradition of celebrating the summer solstice blossomed into Midsommarfest, which has since grown into one of Chicago’s largest street festivals.
Some of the businesses that were owned and run by Swedish immigrants didn’t stick around as the neighborhood began to change and new stores and restaurants owned by Koreans, Lebanese, and Mexicans started to pop up. However, many remained in Andersonville, serving the remaining second and third-generation Swedes as well as the new arrivals to the neighborhood. The Swedish American Museum was founded in 1976, by Kurt Mathiasson, as a grassroots effort to preserve and disseminate the history of the great contributions of early Swedish immigrants to Chicago. The Museum was opened to the public in a ceremony attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who returned in 1988 to dedicate new and larger quarters at 5211 North Clark Street. The Museum has since undergone several phases of growth, including the 2001 addition of the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration and the 2009 renovation of the lobby and façade. Andersonville remains one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish heritage in the United States, but its residents and businesses represent a wide array of cultures. In March, 2010, the Andersonville business area was named a National Historic District because of its rich cultural and architectural history. Clark Street, Andersonville’s commercial strip, hosts spots where one can buy antiques, books jewelry, toys, and chocolates, as well as a pleasing array of restaurants and unique bars with a neighborhood feel. Several of the stores and restaurants are owned and operated by local residents. One of the better known bookstores, Women and Children First, has a large collection of feminist/lesbian material, and is known for its author readings and signings.