Chicago, in the state of Illinois, is home to a large, old Croatian community, whose societies and parishes have existed for an entire century. The Church represents the highest authority for the Croatians in this metropolis, and is the keeper of heritage and tradition, thanks in particular to the Croatian Institute, led by Franciscans. The Croatian church and community received great recognition from the city of Chicago when mayor Richard M. Daley declared the 3rd of October Cardinal Stepinac Day, and renamed a section of Princeton Avenue, from 26th to 33rd street, Cardinal Stepinac Way. The street was officially renamed on the 18th of April, 1999. The Parish of St. Jerome, which organizes a procession to mark the Assumption of Mary every year, is located in Princeton. For the parishioners, as well as other believers from the Croatian community in Chicago, following the procession through a street named in honor of Cardinal Stepinac holds special significance.



The proclamation signed by Richard Daley, the mayor of Chicago, naming Cardinal Stepinac Way (courtesy of St. Jerome’s Church)

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Cardinal Stepinac Way and St. Jerome’s Church in Chicago.


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(photo courtesy of Fra Jozo Grbeš)


John Jay Rogosich was a prominent public servant, so a street in Evanston, one of Chicago’s southern suburbs, was named after him.

In the very heart of Chicago, in 160 North LaSalle street, is a twenty one story building, built in 1920. It is the State Court building of Illinois, which was renamed in 2003 to the Michael A. Bilandic Building.

Michael Anthony Bilandic (Chicago, 1923 – Chicago, 2002) was an American politician of Croatian descent, and the 49th mayor of Chicago. In his youth he was a first lieutenant in the US Marines, and then president of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Michael Bilandic’s parents were Minnie, born Lebedina, from Bobvišće on Brać, and Mate Bilanđić, from Dicmo.

During the renaming ceremony for the building, everyone speaking pointed out Bilandic’s brilliant career, integrity, and reputation, as well as his pride in his Croatian origins.


zgrada 2          ploča na zgradi


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Biladzic s damama

Bilandic posing with a group of Croatian women from his parish. From left to right, they are: Mary Velcich Miller, Eleanor Harzich Pavela, Joanne Harzich Pavela, Josephine Botica Hanson, Michael Bilandic, and Marie Valenti (photo courtesy of St. Jerome’s Church).[1]



Bilandzic i janjac

Following the procession marking the Assumption, Bilandic (first from the left) showing mayor Richard Daley (second from the left) the traditional Croatian way of preparing lamb (photo courtesy of St. Jerome’s Church).[2]


Michigan Avenue is the main street linking the north and south sides of Chicago. It is impossible to pass through the intersection of this avenue and Congress Drive without noticing the sculpture of two native men. They are known as The Bowman and The Spearman, despite the fact that neither one is shown holding a weapon. The sculpture was made by Ivan Meštrović, and was placed here in 1928, sponsored by the Benjamin Ferguson Foundation.


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Plate below the monument. I have to express my disappointment that such a piece has so little information about its author, not even when he lived or where he was from.



Chicago is a city of sports. This is where the New York Giants’ player David Diehl, Bekavac on his mother’s side, was born. Chicago is also home to the famous Chicago Bulls basketball team, where Toni Kukoč and Dalibor Bagarić played, and where Ivica Dukan, known as Duke or Duksi, works as a scout. Dukan was born in Split on the 27th of September, 1956, and played for the Solin basketball team. His coach, Hrvoje Čulić, clearly wasn’t wrong when he said ‘This kid’s gonna make it one day’. He quickly drew the attention of professionals with his play, and was invited to Split’s Jugoplastika team, and played for the national Yugoslavian team. He scored his first three-pointer as soon as it was introduced into the rules used in Yugoslavia. He played in the late seventies, and early eighties of the 20th century. He continued his career in Switzerland and England, only to settle in Chicago in 1991, where he was hired as a scout for the Chicago Bulls. He holds four NBA championship rings, and was the first Croatian to be received by President Barack Obama.


Dukan i Obama

The bulls in the White House, visiting US President Barack Obama, next to whom is Ivica Dukan.

Dukan i Pippen             ivica dukan

Next to Ivica Dukan is Scottie Pippen, a Bulls and NBA legend and holder of retired jersey number. Croatians with retires jersey numbers are John Havlicek, Dražen Petrović, Rudy Tomljanovich, Vlade Divac and George Mikan.The picture on the right is of Dukan from his basketball days.


[1] Dugandžić-Pašić, Maria. 2010. Croatians of Chicagoland. Arcadia Publishing. Charleston, SC. Pg. 94. Photo from the archives of St. Jerome's Church.

[2] See 43, pg. 96. Photo from the archives of St. Jerome's Church.