Copernicus Foundation (Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center)

Street Address: 
5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL

The Copernicus Foundation is housed in the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center in Jefferson Park. The Foundation was chartered in July 1971 as a not-for-profit organization to serve Chicago's Polish American community, ("Polonia"), as a "major civic, cultural, educational, recreational and entertainment resource." The Foundation's first, primary task, was to raise the funds for a monument of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus to be built in front of Adler Planetarium to commemorate his 500th birthday anniversary. The Foundation raised over $300,000 for the project and the monument was completed in 1973.

In 1977 the Foundation began to search for a site to build a Polish Cultural Center in Chicago and chose the current location, which was the site of the Gateway Theater, the first movie theater in Chicago built exclusively for "talkies." Because of its history, the Foundation decided to preserve the Gateway Theater and remodel around it. In 1985, the "Solidarity Tower" was built atop the building. The tower is a scale replica of the clock tower on top of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland and the entire exterior of the building is meant to resemble the castle.

The Copernicus Foundation hosts a number of various programs and events at the Cultural and Civic Center. The most prominent are the annual Polish Film Festival of America and the Taste of Polonia, which draws crowds of over 30,000 over the course of four days.




1971 - 9999

Structure Type



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