A parade in Little India.
Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum
A parade in Little India.
Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Beverly Kumar knows which bakeries and restaurants in Chicago offer some of the flavors that take her back to Mumbai, the city in India where she grew up. These businesses are clustered on a mile-long stretch of Devon Avenue from about California Avenue on the western edge to Damen Avenue on the east in the West Ridge neighborhood. This area is commonly known as Little India.

Kumar, a board member of the National Indo-American Museum, visits every time she has a taste for a traditional Indian fudge called Kalakand, made with milk and cardamom.

“It’s very comforting knowing that just … 14 miles away from my house, there is an essence of Little India, it’s nostalgia for me,” Kumar, who lives in North Suburban Northbrook, said. “With the familiar sights, smells, sounds, you know, flavors of home … I feel like I never moved away after all.”

This neighborhood is one of the most diverse places in the city, with immigrants from many parts of the world. It’s also a hub for dozens of South Asian businesses, including grocery stores, sari and jewelry shops. Like Kumar, many visitors from other parts of the city, and across the region go to Devon Avenue for a day of shopping or dining.

A Devon Avenue street sign.
Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

Curious City listener Munjot Sahu, who lives in Zionsville, Ind., but was born in Chicago, wanted to know: How did Devon Avenue become a primarily Indian community?

Chicago’s metropolitan area has the second-largest Indian population and the fourth-largest Pakistani community in the U.S., according to 2019 census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. But two big migration waves from South Asia contributed to demographic shifts in the area.

Still, there is a lot more to unpack here. To answer Sahu’s question, we met up with people in the community who have lived through several transformations and migration waves in the area in recent decades.

A demographic shift influenced by the first South Asian wave

The community around Devon Avenue wasn’t always home to Indian and other South Asian residents. Actually, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. There’s still a Jewish community there today. It just isn’t as big as it once was. But there are trademarks of their presence, including an honorary street sign named for Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. There are still bakeries, synagogues and a Jewish community center nearby.

A portrait of Ranjana Bhargava.
A portrait of Ranjana Bhargava. Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

The first wave of immigration from South Asia came with the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 — a piece of legislation that opened the doors to highly-skilled immigrants. It attracted many professionals to resettle here in Chicago, including doctors and engineers.

Among that first wave was Ranjana Bhargava, who arrived in the summer of 1968. She had a master’s in psychology. She remembers how hard it was to find vegetarian food in Chicago back then.

“You know, we went to McDonald’s. So we would say, give me a hamburger without a burger,” Bhargava said. “And they would look at you. And they would say, ‘What do we charge?’ They didn’t know what to do with us.”

Bhargava was in her 20s. She says she wasn’t much of a cook back then. But, as she learned to make traditional dishes from Northern India, she had to figure out where to get some of the spices she needed and weren’t that popular, including cumin and paprika.

“There was no Indian store,” Bhargava said. “There was no Indian restaurant in Chicago at that time. Mexican places had some of those spices. And we could smell it and feel, ‘Yes, they are the right ones.’ ”

She and her husband have lived on the South Side for decades, but she worked in Little India for many years. She witnessed how the neighborhood became an anchor for the Indian community. And she remembers when things started to change.

She was thrilled when the first big Sari store opened up on Devon Avenue — The Sari Palace — followed by other Indian shops primarily centered around Devon Avenue, including the first Indian grocery stores, like Patel Brothers, which opened in the ‘70s.

Along with the new stores came new residents and community. Once a month, a local theater played Indian movies. There were also social gatherings where people shared food, played instruments and performed traditional dances.

Left: View of street scene at Devon Avenue near Maplewood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Middle: People eating at Food and Flavor, located at 2359 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Right: Cook at Gandhi India Restaurant located at 2561 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984.
Left: View of street scene at Devon Avenue near Maplewood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Middle: People eating at Food and Flavor, located at 2359 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Right: Cook at Gandhi India Restaurant located at 2561 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Chicago Sun-Times / Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Little India comes into its own

In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a second wave of South Asian migration made up mostly of relatives sponsored by family members who came in the 60s.

And as more Jewish families moved out of West Ridge into the suburbs, South Asians took over their vacant storefronts.

Owner's son stocking shelves in Patel Brothers store at 2542 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984.
Owner’s son stocking shelves in Patel Brothers store at 2542 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

“People started saying, ‘Oh, we can open a store,’” Bhargava said. “So there was a jewelry store and electronics was a very big thing.”

And as Bhargava said, at some point it seemed like every other taxi driver in Chicago was Indian or Pakistani.

As the area thrived with new stores and more people, visitors started coming from around the city and suburbs to sample the cuisines of India and Pakistan. But to outsiders it was just that — a taste of India in Chicago.

Bhargava said most Chicago residents lump South Asians into one nationality — Indians. But there are also residents in the area from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and many other countries outside South Asia, including Croatia and Syria.

By the early 2000s this strip had become more of a place where South Asian families came to shop and eat before going back home to the suburbs. Some residents couldn’t afford to buy a home in the area. Other families had a choice. For them it was a sign of prosperity to move to the suburbs.

Left: The owner of India Bookhouse and Journals stands in front of his storefront at West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Middle: An employee restocks bags of rice at a store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Right: People select fabric for purchase at a clothing store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Left: The owner of India Bookhouse and Journals stands in front of his storefront at West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Middle: An employee restocks bags of rice at a store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Right: People select fabric for purchase at a clothing store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Sun-Times / Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Devon Avenue today

Today it’s hard to label the community as Little India, said Chirag Shah, community navigator program manager at the Indo-American Center. “A lot of businesses do serve a lot of the South Asian population,” he said. “But as we walk up and down Devon … you come across people from 10 different countries.”

Shah, who grew up in the neighborhood, said the staff at the Indo-American Center speak about 15 different languages, but he estimates there are twice that many languages spoken in the community.

With so much going on in a relatively small area, hostilities from back home sometimes surface in the community, especially among Indians and Pakistanis.

“There’ll be these moments during the Pakistan in India parade where …young teenage boys had their nationalism moments,” said Mueze Bawany, whose family moved to the neighborhood in 1990 from Pakistan when he was 3 years old. “We used to have some fist fights that will break out.”

A portrait of Chirag Shah.
A portrait of Chirag Shah. Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

But aside from parade disputes and disagreements over cricket matches, Bawany, who is an English teacher, said those tensions never lasted long. He is also running for alderman of the 50th ward, which covers a large part of the area known as Little India.

Bawany grew up with friends who were orthodox Jews, kids from India, who were either Hindu, Sikh or Jain. He had friends from Kosovo, Somalia and Syria.

Anecdotally, West Ridge is one of the last remaining points of entry on the North Side, according to Shah and other people working in the community. They say in the last few years, more immigrants, including South Asians, have been coming without resources and many are undocumented. Some are fleeing conflict, genocide and poverty.

They come to this neighborhood because they feel a sense of belonging, Bawany said.

“You can pray here, you can be your culture, wear a sari, wear a headscarf, be as close as you could be to home here,” Bawany said.

That’s the type of diversity people can see on Devon Avenue today. Still known as Little India, at least for now. Still attracting new waves of immigrants to live and still bringing in visitors from the suburbs and beyond to sample some of the best South Asian food.

Adriana Cardona-Maguigad is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZCuriousCity and @AdrianaCardMag.

A parade in Little India.
Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum
A parade in Little India.
Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Beverly Kumar knows which bakeries and restaurants in Chicago offer some of the flavors that take her back to Mumbai, the city in India where she grew up. These businesses are clustered on a mile-long stretch of Devon Avenue from about California Avenue on the western edge to Damen Avenue on the east in the West Ridge neighborhood. This area is commonly known as Little India.

Kumar, a board member of the National Indo-American Museum, visits every time she has a taste for a traditional Indian fudge called Kalakand, made with milk and cardamom.

“It’s very comforting knowing that just … 14 miles away from my house, there is an essence of Little India, it’s nostalgia for me,” Kumar, who lives in North Suburban Northbrook, said. “With the familiar sights, smells, sounds, you know, flavors of home … I feel like I never moved away after all.”

This neighborhood is one of the most diverse places in the city, with immigrants from many parts of the world. It’s also a hub for dozens of South Asian businesses, including grocery stores, sari and jewelry shops. Like Kumar, many visitors from other parts of the city, and across the region go to Devon Avenue for a day of shopping or dining.

A Devon Avenue street sign.
Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

Curious City listener Munjot Sahu, who lives in Zionsville, Ind., but was born in Chicago, wanted to know: How did Devon Avenue become a primarily Indian community?

Chicago’s metropolitan area has the second-largest Indian population and the fourth-largest Pakistani community in the U.S., according to 2019 census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. But two big migration waves from South Asia contributed to demographic shifts in the area.

Still, there is a lot more to unpack here. To answer Sahu’s question, we met up with people in the community who have lived through several transformations and migration waves in the area in recent decades.

A demographic shift influenced by the first South Asian wave

The community around Devon Avenue wasn’t always home to Indian and other South Asian residents. Actually, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. There’s still a Jewish community there today. It just isn’t as big as it once was. But there are trademarks of their presence, including an honorary street sign named for Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. There are still bakeries, synagogues and a Jewish community center nearby.

A portrait of Ranjana Bhargava.
A portrait of Ranjana Bhargava. Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

The first wave of immigration from South Asia came with the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 — a piece of legislation that opened the doors to highly-skilled immigrants. It attracted many professionals to resettle here in Chicago, including doctors and engineers.

Among that first wave was Ranjana Bhargava, who arrived in the summer of 1968. She had a master’s in psychology. She remembers how hard it was to find vegetarian food in Chicago back then.

“You know, we went to McDonald’s. So we would say, give me a hamburger without a burger,” Bhargava said. “And they would look at you. And they would say, ‘What do we charge?’ They didn’t know what to do with us.”

Bhargava was in her 20s. She says she wasn’t much of a cook back then. But, as she learned to make traditional dishes from Northern India, she had to figure out where to get some of the spices she needed and weren’t that popular, including cumin and paprika.

“There was no Indian store,” Bhargava said. “There was no Indian restaurant in Chicago at that time. Mexican places had some of those spices. And we could smell it and feel, ‘Yes, they are the right ones.’ ”

She and her husband have lived on the South Side for decades, but she worked in Little India for many years. She witnessed how the neighborhood became an anchor for the Indian community. And she remembers when things started to change.

She was thrilled when the first big Sari store opened up on Devon Avenue — The Sari Palace — followed by other Indian shops primarily centered around Devon Avenue, including the first Indian grocery stores, like Patel Brothers, which opened in the ‘70s.

Along with the new stores came new residents and community. Once a month, a local theater played Indian movies. There were also social gatherings where people shared food, played instruments and performed traditional dances.

Left: View of street scene at Devon Avenue near Maplewood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Middle: People eating at Food and Flavor, located at 2359 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Right: Cook at Gandhi India Restaurant located at 2561 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984.
Left: View of street scene at Devon Avenue near Maplewood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Middle: People eating at Food and Flavor, located at 2359 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Right: Cook at Gandhi India Restaurant located at 2561 Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, December 1984. Chicago Sun-Times / Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Little India comes into its own

In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a second wave of South Asian migration made up mostly of relatives sponsored by family members who came in the 60s.

And as more Jewish families moved out of West Ridge into the suburbs, South Asians took over their vacant storefronts.

Owner's son stocking shelves in Patel Brothers store at 2542 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984.
Owner’s son stocking shelves in Patel Brothers store at 2542 West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, November 1984. Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

“People started saying, ‘Oh, we can open a store,’” Bhargava said. “So there was a jewelry store and electronics was a very big thing.”

And as Bhargava said, at some point it seemed like every other taxi driver in Chicago was Indian or Pakistani.

As the area thrived with new stores and more people, visitors started coming from around the city and suburbs to sample the cuisines of India and Pakistan. But to outsiders it was just that — a taste of India in Chicago.

Bhargava said most Chicago residents lump South Asians into one nationality — Indians. But there are also residents in the area from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and many other countries outside South Asia, including Croatia and Syria.

By the early 2000s this strip had become more of a place where South Asian families came to shop and eat before going back home to the suburbs. Some residents couldn’t afford to buy a home in the area. Other families had a choice. For them it was a sign of prosperity to move to the suburbs.

Left: The owner of India Bookhouse and Journals stands in front of his storefront at West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Middle: An employee restocks bags of rice at a store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Right: People select fabric for purchase at a clothing store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Left: The owner of India Bookhouse and Journals stands in front of his storefront at West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Middle: An employee restocks bags of rice at a store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Right: People select fabric for purchase at a clothing store on West Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Sun-Times / Chicago Sun-Times Collection, Chicago History Museum

Devon Avenue today

Today it’s hard to label the community as Little India, said Chirag Shah, community navigator program manager at the Indo-American Center. “A lot of businesses do serve a lot of the South Asian population,” he said. “But as we walk up and down Devon … you come across people from 10 different countries.”

Shah, who grew up in the neighborhood, said the staff at the Indo-American Center speak about 15 different languages, but he estimates there are twice that many languages spoken in the community.

With so much going on in a relatively small area, hostilities from back home sometimes surface in the community, especially among Indians and Pakistanis.

“There’ll be these moments during the Pakistan in India parade where …young teenage boys had their nationalism moments,” said Mueze Bawany, whose family moved to the neighborhood in 1990 from Pakistan when he was 3 years old. “We used to have some fist fights that will break out.”

A portrait of Chirag Shah.
A portrait of Chirag Shah. Maggie Sivit / WBEZ

But aside from parade disputes and disagreements over cricket matches, Bawany, who is an English teacher, said those tensions never lasted long. He is also running for alderman of the 50th ward, which covers a large part of the area known as Little India.

Bawany grew up with friends who were orthodox Jews, kids from India, who were either Hindu, Sikh or Jain. He had friends from Kosovo, Somalia and Syria.

Anecdotally, West Ridge is one of the last remaining points of entry on the North Side, according to Shah and other people working in the community. They say in the last few years, more immigrants, including South Asians, have been coming without resources and many are undocumented. Some are fleeing conflict, genocide and poverty.

They come to this neighborhood because they feel a sense of belonging, Bawany said.

“You can pray here, you can be your culture, wear a sari, wear a headscarf, be as close as you could be to home here,” Bawany said.

That’s the type of diversity people can see on Devon Avenue today. Still known as Little India, at least for now. Still attracting new waves of immigrants to live and still bringing in visitors from the suburbs and beyond to sample some of the best South Asian food.

Adriana Cardona-Maguigad is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZCuriousCity and @AdrianaCardMag.

Speaker 1: Hey, it's curiosity, reported Adriana Cardona. So there is this undeniable fact about Chicago. Our city is home to amazing South asian food Chicago's metropolitan area actually has the second largest indian population and the fourth largest Pakistani community in the US and some of the best indian and Pakistani food is on the Von Avenue in this one strip that goes almost a mile from about California on the western edge to Damon on the east. The area is known as little India located in the West Ridge neighborhood. Beverly Kumar is from Mumbai and though she lives in suburban Chicago now she loves coming to this area whenever she can. If you want more ugly cuisine of Delhi and you go to a different restaurant or deli there bar, oh my God, you know you want south indian cuisine. All of that you go to your body visiting little India takes Beverly back home knowing that just 10 miles away, 14 miles away from my house, there is an essence, it's, it's nostalgia for me with the familiar sights, smells, sounds and flavors of home and I feel like I I never moved away after all. Yeah, that strip little India is not just about the food. You walk down the street and you'll see colorful window displays with mannequins wearing sari dresses for the women and patani suits for the men. The area is a hub for dozens of South asian businesses where people like Beverly can connect with the flavors of their homeland so much that one of our listeners, Manja Sahu wanted to know how did yvonne Avenue become a primarily indian community. There's a lot to that answer. Lots to unpack here. We'll be talking about who lived there before South asians, how the community continues to evolve and what makes it vibrant today. All of that coming up after the break,

Speaker 2: curious city is supported by Jewel Osco as Chicago's longtime grocer. Jewel Osco remains committed to offering shoppers additional savings on the items they buy most through the Jewel Osco for you digital app, visit Jewel Osco dot com for more details on signing up and saving $5 on a $25 purchase plus each week there are selected sizzling hot offers on fresh meat, premium produce, household items and more through the Jewel Osco for you digital

Speaker 3: app.

Speaker 1: To answer a listener's question about how this area on the von avenue in west ridge became mostly indian. I met up with the raksha, he grew up in the neighborhood and we went on a little tour.

Speaker 4: So if we walk, we can do like, we can walk this way and then we can walk that way and then you'll see the transition

Speaker 1: chirac works at the indo american center right there in the neighborhood there. He coordinates services for immigrants who are adjusting to a new culture and their new city. He's well known in the area.

Speaker 4: I can't walk five seconds without seeing someone that I know whether it's a friend or a client. I see. I've definitely had walks like I'll go out walk in the evening and a client will see immediately. Oh hey, by the way, can you help me with these papers and then pull up papers from their bag? He

Speaker 1: says some of his co worker tease him for being so popular.

Speaker 4: Oh yeah, the mirror of Devon, please don't give me that title. I don't I don't I don't want that title at all,

Speaker 1: but he knows the community well, he points out businesses that have been here for as long as he can remember

Speaker 4: this bank has been here for like I think

Speaker 1: This area wasn't always home to Indian and other South Asian residents actually back in the 50s and 60s, the neighborhood was mostly Jewish. There's still a Jewish community there today. It just isn't as big as it once was

Speaker 4: since bakery is a jewish bakery right there. So if we were to walk further more you would see that predominantly this area would be more jewish.

Speaker 1: There are trademarks of their presence including an honorary street sign named for Israeli Prime Minister Golda Maier, there are synagogues for their west, a jewish community center nearby. Then we head further east.

Speaker 4: So as you walk down the more you'll see like a lot more businesses opening up. I mean we're already seeing a lot more people,

Speaker 1: we start walking by a few indian restaurants, sorry stores and jewelry shops. Women with their kids are on their way to local indian or Pakistani grocery stores that transformation and Yvonne didn't happen overnight. There were two big migration waves from South Asia that contributed to demographic shifts in the area. The first big boom happened with the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. That attracted mostly professionals more established South asians. Many of them were doctors, engineers, including some of chirac's family members from India. My

Speaker 4: dad's brother, he was here during the wave of like doctors and scientists and engineers right when the U. S. Is like, hey everybody come, we need you to come here bring your skills right

Speaker 1: Among that first wave of young professionals was also Ranjana Bhargava who arrived in the summer of 19 68. She and her husband have lived on the south side for decades, but she worked in little India for many years. She witnessed how the neighborhood became an anchor for the Indian community. She remembers when she first arrived how hard it was to find vegetarian food in Chicago. You know, we went to McDonald's. So we would say give me a hamburger without a burger and they would look at you and they would say what do we charge? So they didn't know what to do with us. Rogina was in her twenties, she says she wasn't much of a cook back then. But as she learned to make traditional dishes from Northern India, she had to figure out where to get some of the spices that she needed and wasn't that popular back then including cumin and paprika, there was no indian store, there was no indian restaurant in Chicago at that time mexican places had some of those spices and we could smell it and feel yes they are the right ones. But then things started to change. Indian shops began to open on the north side, primarily centered around Devon Avenue. Ranjana was glad when the first indian grocery stores opened up in the seventies including Patel brothers, she was finally able to find the spices she needed in one place like that cumin and paprika she was looking for plus fennel seeds, fresh ginger, dry fruits, cardamom, mango powder. And she was thrilled when the first big sorry store opened up on the Von avenue the sari palace featuring the latest styles and fabrics saris became very popular but these were nylon saris that means if you were cooking it can burn people would wear it only when they were going out or not cooking. Along with the new stores came new residents and community once a month a local theater played indian movies. There were also social gatherings where people shared food, played instruments and performed traditional dances. Then in the eighties and nineties there was a second wave of south asian migration, mostly non professionals relatives sponsored by family members who came in the sixties Ranjana says at some point it seemed like every other taxi driver in Chicago was indian or Pakistani and as more jewish families moved out of West Ridge into the suburbs, South asians took over their vacant storefronts. People started saying oh we can open a store. So there was jewelry store, electronics was a very big thing. So as the area thrived with new stores and more people, visitors started coming from around the city and suburbs to sample the cuisines of India and Pakistan and it began to be called video India to outsiders. It was just that a taste of India in Chicago And because people didn't know better, most Chicagoans slumped, everyone who lived here into one nationality. But that wasn't true in the 70s and 80s. And it's even less true today there are also residents from Sri Lanka Bangladesh Bhutan. And if you take a closer look you'll find people from many other countries outside South Asia like Croatia in Syria. This area is extremely diverse. More on that coming up after the break on any given night depending on where you are in the area known as little India, you'll see a group of older indian or Pakistani seniors chitchatting all their Middle Eastern men gathering around and talking there together, but also apart as each group keeps to themselves. She raksha continues our tour of the neighborhood, showing me how diverse the area has become.

Speaker 4: So as you can see here, like a lot of the businesses on this side of heaven are definitely more Middle Eastern right? So there is a Middle Eastern grocery store over here there, Iraqi on barbershop actually, most of the barbershops on devon will be Iraqi owned. He

Speaker 1: Even says the staff at the Indo-American Center where he works speak about 15 different languages, but he estimates that there are twice that many languages spoken in the community. There's a lot going on in a relatively small area and sometimes hostilities from back home surface in little India, some of those historic tensions, especially among indians and pakistanis are out on display here chirac

Speaker 4: again in the past, we would definitely have tensions between the Pakistani and the indian seniors like we would try to celebrate like indian Independence Day and then the Pakistani like, hey, why did you celebrate the Pakistani Independence Day? Okay, fine, we can celebrate that too.

Speaker 1: And here's he's from Pakistan, you know, there'd be these moments right during the Pakistan and India parade where you know, young teenage boys having their, you know, just having their nationalism moments like we used to have some fistfights would break out. Family moved to the neighborhood in 1990 when he was three years old, he's now an English teacher. I think my dad felt tense once when the two countries were kind of on the brink of potential work. You know, he would, he would often joke and he still does that. The only time his indian friends would be upset or vice versa, he'd be upset at them is when one of the teams lost in cricket. But other than disagreements over cricket matches, Iraq say tensions never lasted long. They mostly remember people just getting along. I never felt attention kid. I think like if anybody understood these things that many of the americans didn't understand like me being like, oh, I gotta go home and pray. It is my, my friends were indoor seek who is muslim says he grew up with friends who were Orthodox jews kids from India who were either hindu sick or jane. He had friends from Kosovo, Somalia Syria. They understand like, you know, they would often be like movies like you gotta go pray right? Like we're playing basketball to be like, can you pick somebody else to jump in while you go pray. Like they used to accommodate By the early 2000s. Like you often see with immigrant communities, a lot of South Asians were starting to move to the suburbs. Some residents couldn't afford to buy a home in the area. Other families had a choice for them. It was a sign of prosperity to move to the suburbs. So it has become more of a place where people come to shop and eat and then go back home. We don't have a collective home anymore, which I always think about because home is such a for immigrants, any of us have left our home for whatever reason, It's such an interesting concept, right? And so what does the next wave of immigration in little India look like anecdotally chirac and other people working in the neighborhood say West Ridge is one of the last remaining points of entry on the north side. They say the newest immigrants, including south asians are coming without resources and many are undocumented. Some are fleeing conflict, genocide and poverty. Like the Rohingyas who opened up a community center on the one avenue in 2016. You know, you could be your culture, you can wear a sari, you can wear a headscarf. You can be as close as you could be. The harm here. When I asked chirac about little India today, he says it's become really hard to label. For example, recently there was a large group of asylum seekers from Venezuela bussed here from texas hanging out on the von near this one christian church. The church was giving away clothes to the migrants. It was a pleasant night. The pastor at some point started playing latin music and then he started singing along with it and at the very same time right across the street. This other music was playing too. It was coming from a hindu temple, a spiritual song that's the type of diversity you get to see and hear on the one avenue today, still known as little India at least for now, still attracting new waves of immigrants to live and still bringing in visitors from the suburbs and beyond to sample some of the best south asian food. Check out our digital story to see images that reflect how the neighborhood has changed over the decades, including the many storefront restaurants and street scenes that have come and gone head to WBC dot org slash curious city. Curious city is supported by the current Family Foundation. It's produced by joe and Jason. Mark is the digital and engagement producer and jp Swanson is our luminary fellow, Johanna Zorn edits the show. I'm Adriana Cardona, thanks for listening

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