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Your Chicago: Andersonville, A Swedish Holdover

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A Swedish flag flies proudly in Andersonville in Chicago. (CBS)

A Swedish flag flies proudly in Andersonville in Chicago. (CBS)

Kate Sullivan Kate Sullivan
Kate Sullivan is co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago News at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m....
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Andersonville on Chicago’s North Side has been growing and distinguishing itself for decades – not only for its family-like feel, but also for some of the best spots to indulge in Swedish dishes.

If you’ve ever craved a Swedish pancake or an authentic Swedish meatball, you may already know the Andersonville staple of Svea Restaurant.

If you can grab one of the 34 seats available, Swedish food is served with some Chicago history.

“Back when my wife’s grandfather was a conductor on a Clark Street streetcar line, it was totally Swedish, everything was Swedish,” owner Tom Martin says.

Decades later, some things on Clark Street haven’t changed, from the sweet breads and cakes at the Swedish Bakery to the Swedish museum and Swedish flags proudly flying.

And yet things have changed dramatically, too, over the years.

Business owner Alma Gutierrez, originally from Honduras, owns a furniture shop in Andersonville and moved her business there on purpose.

“Now you have a melting pot from people from all over, and it keeps getting better and better,” she says.

Svea, which is just the beginning of Andersonville, started in the 1930s. But the neighborhood dates back well to the previous century.

Post-fire building codes forced those who built log or wooden homes to move out of the city limits, so the Swedes moved north on Clark and created the mile stretch of Andersonville.

“It has this incredible feel of other neighborhoods and even though it’s no longer Swedish, it kind of feels like European,” Gutierrez says.

Regulars like John Bareither appreciate the eclectic and unique shopping and dining experiences.

“Everybody knows everybody … just like living in a small town or a small village,” Martin says.

Andersonville has also been leading the way in environmentally conscious living and recycling. It is home to a weekly farmer’s market and Midsommarfest, an annual street festival.

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