Goose Island is the only island in the Chicago River. It is man-made and covers an area of 160 acres. It is about 1.5 miles in length and only half a mile in width at it's widest point. It is crossed by Division Street (east-west) and Halsted Street (north-south.) Railroad access to the island is possible on the Cherry Avenue Bridge.
There are two thoughts on the name. Irish immigrants who first settled on the island were said to raise geese. Another explanation is that shape of the island resembles the outline of a goose if viewed from the right angle.
Why don't more people know about Goose Island?
Goose Island never held a prominent position in the city because of its lowly origins. It was the place where rag pickers came to drop their collections and dirty industry congregated. People of means did not live there. It's not a secret but unless you know it is there, you don't realize you are on an island in the middle of the city.
What is on Goose Island?
No, Goose Island Brewing Company is not on Goose Island. The island was designated as a Planned Manufacturing district in 1990 by Mayor Richard Daley which means that residential development is now forbidden. The Wrigley World Headquarters is located there along with Kendall College, Calumet Photographic, Waste Management and numerous industrial and distribution companies.
What is West of Goose Island now?
Crossing off the island past Elston Avenue going west are the five sets of elevated railroad train tracks for all the trains going northwest out of the city. They run along side the Kennedy Expressway at Division Street, both of which form a tunnel like area between Troop and Noble Streets. Several of the old landmarks such as Holy Trinity Church and Polonia Triangle are still there but the area is overrun by young hipsters who want to live in a cool, easy to afford, convenient neighborhood.
Am I really Polish?
Yes, I am 100% first generation Polish. My father legally changed our family name from
Postawa to Post in 1960, just before I entered military service. It wasn’t that any one was ashamed of being Polish --- no one EVER pronounced it correctly! Post was much easier for everyone. We all welcomed making the name shorter. I don’t feel any less Polish because of it. In truth, I don’t think much about it one way or the other. It’s still what’s inside that counts!
A = My house on Troop Street
Now the on-ramp to the Kennedy Expressway
Were toilets really under the sidewalk?
Yes, chicago did have toilets under the sidewalk. They were called "Joe pod side walkyem" or "under the sidewalk Joe". I used them as a kid when we were playing outside rather than run upstairs to use the one in our house. Several houses on our block still used them every day in the early 1950's even though the city 'officially' banned their use in the 1930's. Chicago was build on marshy land and the city put sewer lines on top of the streets in the 1890's. That forced buildings to either jack up to the new street level or have the first floor become the new 'basement' floor. While the toilets are now sealed up, the lower levels sprout gardens, patios, and sitting out areas in the gentrified Wicker Park, Noble Square, division Street and Polonia Triangle.