Images of Chicago’s Arab American Buildings

Images of Chicago’s Arab American Buildings

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Images of Chicago’s Arab American Buildings

A History of Arabs in Chicago

July 1977

By Ray Hanania

In May 1976, I was the publisher and main writer of a small English language newspaper called The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper. The newspaper was the first English language publication to focus on Chicago’s Arab American community and it began publication in 1975 and continued through 1977.

One of the things I tried to do was to document in photographs the many Arab American owned buildings and businesses that existed in Chicago at the time. These photographs were taken in July 1977 as a part of a photo story I was writing for newspaper.

(All photographs copyright (C) 2004-2017 Ray Hanania, all rights reserved. These photographs may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Ray Hanania.)

This is the hall at 5919 S. Kedzie Avenue in Chicago where the Arab American Congress for Palestine and supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization used to hold their meetings. Professor Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, now deceased, would convene the meetings here and introduce speakers who would offer information on the events surrounding the Palestinian struggle for independence.

Next door was a club at 5921 S. Kedzie Ave.

Facing north, Lawn Manor Beth Jacob Synagogue at 6601 S. Kedzie Avenue, and just across the street (to the north) is Bawadi Food Stores, one of many grocery stores owned by Arab American in Chicago and the region.

The Arab Medical Center at 4800 S. Ashland Ave.

Hasan Export-Import Gift Shop and al-Salam Mosque (2nd Floor) at 48th and Ashland Avenue. This building is on the East Side of the street.

The Syrian Bakery and Grocery store at51st and Ashland Ave.

This is the old Middle East Restaurant and Club at 5444 S. Damen Ave in Chicago. You could come here and enjoy a great Arabian meal, or sip coffee, a favorite past time of clientele and even in the evening, you could play Shash-Bash (backgammon) or cards.

The Mediterranean Bakery at 3109 W. 59th Street in Chicago. I remember meeting the owners, a young newly married couple who worked everyday from 7 in the morning until 9 at night baking many Arabian foods like Arabian Bread and other pasteries.

The Port Said Restaurant, 6245 S. Cicero Avenue, Chicago. This restaurant offered a menu of the most popular Arabian foods and also the best belly dancing in the Chicagoland area every weekend night. You could come here and drink alcohol (the Arab community in the 1970s was not as strict or conservative as many are today) and you could also enjoy a Sheesha Pipe. The owner was a member of the Haleem family whose father, Hasan Haleem was one of the first to settle in Chicago.

Steve Adawi was one of the master chefs in Chicago and continues to operate restaurants along 63rd Street. This was one of his original restaurants at 2518 W. 63rd Street. His brother Jamil also owned and operated a restaurant. The Adawis were among the best Palestinian chefs in the Chicago area and remain so until today. His newest restaurant is located further west on 63rd Street but not far from the original heart of the Arab community.

The Jerusalem Grocery and Bakery at 2543 W. 63rd Street.

Original blueprints for the Bridgeview Mosque held by Sheik Zayed, the mosques first Imam. The mosque is located at 92nd Street just west of Harlem Avenue. These diagrams called for a more expansive mosque than the one that was later built.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania