The Bridgeport neighborhood is often most known as a predominantly Irish-American neighborhood that was home to the Daleys, our former father and son mayors. It also has some cool spots for architecture, too, and has historically been home to diverse communities.
Historically the area has been home to a blue collar class living within close proximity to various factories along the canal in the neighborhood, as well as the stockyards not too far away. Chinese were here early on in addition to the Irish, and also Lithuanian and Polish, among others. All these different groups had grand places of worship, some of which you can pop into, and others boarded up indefinitely.
One fine church is managed by the Monastery of the Holy Cross. Benedictine monks, who also operate a fine bed and breakfast, open the church during services. During these times you can experience the Gothic-inspired interior, with its lofty high ceilings and stained glass windows. It was originally built for a community of German-speaking Catholics, further testament to the diversity of the neighborhood over its history.
Now some of those decommissioned factories have been converted into art centers. Both the Bridgeport Art Center and the Zhou B Art Center are behemoth brick buildings filled with artist studios and special events.
A historic architectural business in the neighborhood is Decorators Supply Corporation. It's been around since before the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. They were busy making plaster and composite ornaments for the fair, and that's what they've been doing ever since. Their factory is in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and if you ask nicely they just might let you have a peek inside though generally they do business off their catalog. If you have a historic mansion in Chicago and you have some ornamentation on your mantle, columns in your dining room, or spiral flourishes on the ceiling around your chandelier, it might have been made by Decorators Supply. They keep molds from every job they have ever done.