The years after World War I heralded a large influx of Polish immigrants fleeing war-torn homelands in search of a better life. Drawn by the opportunity to work in the textile and manufacturing mills, Polish immigrants moved to Wallington, New Jersey, a newly incorporated borough in Bergen County. The Polish community of Wallington established themselves as local store owners and businessmen. They constructed churches and social club buildings; established restaurants, pubs, and grocery stores; and participated in the social life of their community. By the 1920s, Polish Americans began to dominate local politics; in 1929, the first Polish American mayor, Leo Strzelecki, was elected. Polish Americans became the majority in Wallington between 1935 and 1945, representing about 70 percent of the population. In 2012, Polish Americans comprise over 50 percent of Wallington's population. Through vintage photographs that capture the spiritual life of these people and the struggles they overcame, Wallington's Polish Community honors the Polish immigrants of the past while educating new generations.
Author Bio: Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz, a Polish immigrant, is the national director of the Polish American Congress, Northern New Jersey Division. Marta Mestrovic Deyrup, also from Bergen County, is a Slavic librarian at Seton Hall University. Images within the pages of Wallington's Polish Community come from the Roman Catholic Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Polish National Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Hillside Social Athletic Club, St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish School, Cracovia Manor, Wawel Savings Bank, and Kathie Sadowski, owner of P. Bunyan's Steakhouse, among others.
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