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Blue Island Posts a Preserve America Success

Preserve America, a grant program launched by First Lady Laura Bush and managed by the National Park Service, has been an unbridled success in Blue Island. This unique program provided the funding to create public-private partnerships that built on history and culture as economic development fundamentals, creating opportunities to promote heritage tourism as a model for stronger communities.

Blue Island launched its Preserve America grant with a call to define our “brand,” creating a logo and tagline - Think Outside the Loop - that will guide our marketing efforts. “Think Outside the Loop” is a terrific fit for who we are and what we do. Blue Island is a creative, independent, and diverse community. We welcome all who want to experience what we have to offer.

Designer and artist Kevin Jones was invited to interpret six themes or “niches” that Preserve America has helped develop.

“Think Heritage”

Explore railroad history, a century of architecture, and the footprint of industry. Blue Island invites you to Think Heritage.

“Think Culture”

Picture diverse neighborhoods, a vibrant arts scene, and engaging cultural programs. Blue Island invites to to Think Culture.

“Think Local”

Discover homegrown foods, authentic restaurants, and family-run businesses. Blue Island invites you to Think Local.

“Think Play”

Enjoy miles of trails, sports and leisure, and outdoor recreation. Blue Island invites you to Think Play.

“Think Green”

Envision tree-lined streets, a transit-oriented community, and a sustainable future. Blue Island invites you to Think Green.

“Think Blue”

Imagine picturesque waterfalls, native landscapes, and leisurely waterways. Blue Island invites you to Think Blue.

So spread the word… tell friends, family, even strangers, it’s time they started thinking about Blue Island!

Thanks to all who supported Preserve America. We were fortunate to work with a number of “Think Local” businesses, including James Street Associates, GL Studios, Franklin Framing, Colyer Signs, and Folgers Flags. Many more “Think Local” businesses, such as Carr Gardens, Shawn Michelle’s, Tenochtitlan, Ultra Foods, Aldi, Darling, Calumet Park Troublemakers, and MetroSouth Medical Center all donated to the grant, helping us meet our matching fund goal. Please support all of our community-minded businesses. We’d like to share a special thanks from the City of Blue Island to Kathryn Warnes at the National Park Service for all her help and support.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2011

September 15 - October 15 marks the annual observation of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Blue Island is known today for its vibrant and diverse Hispanic culture. Of course Mexican-Americans have deep roots in our community, with immigrants arriving through the 1910s and on. As we reflect on Blue Island’s own Hispanic Heritage this month, let’s all recognize and celebrate the hard work, sacrifice, and dignity in the face of adversity from those that helped build Blue Island.

The Mexican Migration: 1915-1930

Across the Southwest and Midwest, railroads fueled the Mexican migration. Many Mexicans that immigrated to Blue Island arrived as track workers for the Rock Island Railroad. The railroad promised families housing and jobs. In turn, they were quick to exploit the newly arrived immigrant population.

The best known of the local Mexican settlements, described by whites as the “Mexican Colony,” was located at the Rock Island (now Metra) tracks on 123rd Street, east of Vincennes Ave. and along Winchester Ave. A 1920 article in the Blue Island Sun-Standard describes the camp:

One hundred Mexican laborers and their families live in the colony…The camp consists of two cottages, one school building, one bunk house for men, 11 box cars, two wooden shacks and one tar paper structure that can be characterized only as a hut.

Instead of the promised bungalows, arriving Mexicans - many of them from Monterrey - were given boxcars by the railroad for housing.

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