Monday, August 17, 2009

Worcester's Polish Neighborhood, 1945

This map shows most of Worcester's Polish neighborhood in 1945. Life centered on Millbury Street, which was not only the hub of Polish social, retail, business, and professional life, but also the city's second busiest shopping district for many decades. Only Main Street itself, with its large department stores, was more active. The spiritual focus of Polonia was Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, whose church and schools were on Richland Street. Over the years, Green Street (north of Kelley Square) was home to the Polish Falcons at White Eagle hall and to the Polish-American Veterans of World War II. The Polish National Alliance hall was on Lafayette Street in the Island district. Thousands of immigrant Poles made their home in three-deckers in the Island and Vernon Hill neighborhoods, which lay between Quinsigamond Avenue on the west and Providence Street on the east. American Steel & Wire South Works was located at the intersection of Millbury, Vernon, and Providence streets, just beyond the southernmost part of this map. The wire mill was the single largest employer of the immigrant Poles. Crompton & Knowles and other factories located near Quinsigamond Avenue and Cambridge Street were other major employers.

The family of Aleksandr and Stefania Prokopowicz lived at 2 Meade Street on the Island from about 1913 to 1941. After their 1916 marriage in Lowell, Julian and Anna Prokopowicz boarded with the family of Charles Linga at 25 Esther Street, a few blocks from the wire mill. As they started a family, they moved to 617 Millbury Street, inched northward to 611 1/2 Millbury, then 585 (on the corner of Fifth Avenue), and finally 320 Millbury Street (near Canton Street and Crompton Park), where Anna lived until her death in 1976.

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