Photo by Theo Tate
The entrance of the Lincoln Place neighborhood at the corner of Illinois 3 and Niedringhaus Avenue.
GRANITE CITY — In early 1916, Hungary Hollow had a new name.
The neighborhood west of downtown Granite City was now called Lincoln Place, in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, after the Granite City Commercial Club, an organization of local professionals, union leaders and businessmen, decided to change the neighborhood’s name.
This year’s Lincoln Place Heritage Festival will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the naming of Lincoln Place. The festival will take place from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Lincoln Place Community Center.
A commemoration of the name change to Lincoln Place is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.
“This is a special year of celebration for the Lincoln Place Heritage Association,” association President Norma Asadorian said.
The festival will begin with the presentation of colors by the Granite City Police Department. During the day, there will be Russian, Bulgarian, Armenian, Scottish and Mexican folk dances, a magic show and an apple pie contest, with the winner awarded a cash prize of $500.
Inside the Lincoln Place Community Center, Lincoln Place oral history interviews will be on display, along with historical artifacts, a quilt display and ribbon quilting demo and performances featuring the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer and Celtic Harp.
Dan Manoyan also will make an appearance, signing copies of his book, “Men of Granite.” The book, published in 2007, is about the 1940 Granite City High School boys’ basketball team’s state title win. The student-athletes were from Armenian and Hungarian backgrounds. A motion picture based on the book is in the works.
“I heard about it for years and I was never able to get down there for it,” Manoyan said. “But they asked me again this year if I could come down. It just so happens that I had the time available.”
Manoyan said Asadorian was the one who invited him to the festival in August.
“She’s a real go-getter,” the author said. “She does a really good job of promoting Granite City and the festival.”
Granite City was founded in 1896. Ten years later, thousands of immigrants from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe moved to Granite City. The majority of those immigrants lived in a neighborhood that was then called Hungary Hollow.
During the 1907 Depression, the name of Hungary Hollow was nicknamed “Hungry Hollow” because many immigrants were starving during that period.
In 1916, the Granite City Commercial Club met with the residents of Hungary Hollow to formally request the name change to Lincoln Place, more accurately representing the American aspirations of the immigrants. During that time, Lincoln Place had the largest population of Bulgarian and Macedonian immigrants in the United States.
After the name change, the Lincoln Place neighborhood continued to grow. Families from many ethnic backgrounds moved there in search for a better life.
Admission to the festival is free and open to the public. For more information, call (618) 451-2611.