> St. Vincent de Paul Center History

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The Poor Are Always Among Us: The History of St. Vincent de Paul Center in Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Today, Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood enjoys a reputation as an affluent and homogenous community filled with professionals and their young families. Despite its reputation, however, Lincoln Park today, as it always has been, is ethnically, racially, and economically diverse. St. Vincent de Paul Center, which has been serving the community since 1915, has helped ease the tensions between the haves and the have-nots. This is the Center’s story.

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Demonstrating Need: The Foundations of the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center, 1880-1920

At the turn of the twentieth century, Chicago, like many cities across America, was faced with the immense problems caused by immigration, industrialization, and urbanization. To combat poverty and the seeds of discontent it sewed, settlement houses popped up throughout the city. When Revered Francis X. McCabe, C.M., the pastor of St. Vincent’s Parish in Lincoln Park, looked around his rapidly changing neighborhood, he knew he needed to do something. With the help of the Daughters of Charity, McCabe opened the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center, the precursor to St. Vincent de Paul Center.

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Growing Pains: The Evolution of the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center, 1921-1939

In the years following its opening, the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center outgrew its space, a pattern that would be replicated throughout its history. Thus, the center moved to a new site and added additional buildings to its already growing complex. These buildings allowed the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center to continue to provide services to its community throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

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The Teen Phenomenon, 1940-1960

America’s involvement in World War II interrupted family life and changed that institution forevermore. These changes, as well as the dawn of the age of the teenager, would have lasting impacts on the Center and the services and programs it provided. The DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center continued to evolve with the changing needs of its community.

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The Ups and Downs of Urban Renewal: St. Vincent de Paul Center, 1960-Today

By the early 1960s, urban renewal efforts began to impact the Lincoln Park neighborhood, the people who lived there, and those institutions that tried to help community members. St. Vincent de Paul Center was one such institution, but some questioned its relevancy in such an “up-and-coming” neighborhood. Determined to stay to help those most vulnerable to the effects of gentrification, the Center expanded its programs and services and became a physical reminder, even in a neighborhood as seemingly rich as Lincoln Park, that “the poor are always among us.”

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  • Foglia Family & Youth Center
    2859 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60612
  • Marillac Social Center
    212 S. Francisco Ave. Chicago, IL 60612
  • St. Vincent de Paul Center
    2145 N. Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60614