A group of workers hanging around outside of the Cyran & Gierlasinski Cafe on Grove Street in Chicopee, on June 29, 1916. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
The scene in 2014:
Social reformer and photographer Lewis Wickes Hine visited Chicopee several times in the 1910s, documenting child labor conditions in some of the city’s factories. The first photo here shows a group of workers hanging around a saloon at the end of the workday. It’s probably safe to assume that the cafe was Polish; the names of Cyran & Gierlasinski leave little room for doubt. By the late 1800s, Chicopee had become an industrial center, and many of the workers were immigrants, either French-Canadian or Polish. To this day, many Chicopee residents are of French-Canadian and Polish ancestry, some of whom are probably the descendants of the men in the 1916 photo. Today, the Cyran & Gierlasinski Cafe might be gone, but the Polish influence is still present; the site is now the parking lot for the main offices of the Polish National Credit Union.