The history of the "Bird's Nest," or Birdtown as it is now known, is as unique and colorful as its distinctive name. The area was christened Birdtown because the streets were given the names of birds, such as Plover, Lark, Thrush, Robin, and Quail. The community has been in existence since Union Carbide founded the area around 1892; it began as a company community, as the area was designed and laid out by the corporation, and most of the residents were employed to work for the company. The neighborhood was primarily settled by people of Eastern European descent who needed to live very close to the factory so that they could walk to work. Employees who rose to positions of authority in management tended to hire new employees of similar ethnicities, and the population coalesced into a high concentration of Eastern European families in a relatively small area of eight streets. Slovak was commonly heard throughout the neighborhood.
Birdtown was (and still is) bordered by Madison to the north, West 117th to the east, the rapid-transit tracks to the south, and Madison Park and the Templar Car Factory to the west. Because the population was so dense in comparison to the size of the area, the housing consisted mainly of three story houses accommodating multiple families in cold water flats, or two single family homes located on the same lot. In the latter case, the owner would rent the second house out for extra income. This example is indicative of the architecture of the neighborhood; the homes and commercial properties built by residents and their friends reflect a closeness of community and style that is unique to Lakewood and surrounding areas.
Since Birdtown was relatively homogenous, a strong sense of cultural identity developed. The neighborhood supported shops and churches, which were operated by and catered to the ethnic community. It became a close knit community with shared customs and traditions. As a large number of its current residents are descendants of the original settlers, Birdtown still has the strong sense of community it did then.
Athens Avenue • Bramley Avenue • Clarence Avenue • Dowd Avenue • Halstead Avenue • Lark Street • Madison Avenue • Magee Avenue • Plover Street • Quail Street • Robin Street • Thrush Street • Waterbury Road