Although the Irish were the first to settle in Bridgeport, and probably the most well-known ethnic group in the area, Bridgeport is by no means a stranger to many other groups. Many Italian-Americans refer to the neighborhood as home. The area also so a large increase in Lithuanian-Americans settling along Lituanica Avenue, which runs between 31st Street and 38th Place one block west of Halsted Street. Some many immigrants settled in the area at one time that it was referred to as the “Lithuanian Downtown” and was the hub of all Lithuanian business. One of the things that has remained constant over the years and has helped draw in large numbers of new immigrants to the area and city is the affordable housing and ease of access to commercial districts. Bridgeport is very close to I90/94 and the Red and Green line trains.
At one time Chicago was home to the most Polish people in the world outside of Warsaw. Polish history is most visibly represented in Bridgeport through its two churches in the Polish Cathedral style: St. Mary of Perpetual Help, and St. Barbara. The Art Institute of Chicago has done restoration work on the paintings in the Shrine Altars at St. Mary of Perpetual Help which date back to 1890, with further plans calling for restoration of the stained glass windows and to complete the painting of the interior ceilings and rotunda.
In 2008 the Chicago Sun-Times recognized Bridgeport as one of the four most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, alongside Albany Park, West Ridge, and Rogers Park. Bridgeport has always been known as a working-class neighborhood, with a diverse ethnic heritage. But just like many other Chicago neighborhoods, this one takes its food seriously! While pizza is well represented in Bridgeport, it is the breaded-steak sandwich served by most of the neighborhood’s pizzerias, that the neighborhood can claim as an original. Chinese and Mexican fare are also well represented, particularly along 31st Street, Halsted Street, and Archer Avenue. Bridgeport in the early 21st century has also begun to experience an upswing in new restaurants, with a few recent additions serving items ranging from British-style pies to organic offerings.
The neighborhood is served by the Bridgeport News, a community newspaper delivered weekly on Wednesdays to homes throughout the neighborhood.