Lithuanian-American heritage map to double in scope | True Lithuania
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Lithuanian-American heritage map to double in scope

2018 08 23. True Lithuania's interactive map of Lithuanian-American heritage sites will soon also include the entire Midwest, doubling in size.

Launched in 2017, the map now covers ~340 Lithuanian sites in New England and Mid-Atlantic regions (11 states). After the expansion, the map will include some 600-700 Lithuanian sites and cover ~80-90% of the total eligible Lithuanian locations in the USA. The map is interactive and thus offers not just the exact locations but also pictures and detailed information about each site, aimed at tourists and locals alike.

Eligible locations marked in the map include Lithuanian churches, Lithuanian cemeteries, Lithuanian clubhouses and museums, Lithuanian monuments, graves of the famous Lithuanians, locations named in Lithuanian, etc.

States and locations that will be added to the map

The Midwest extension will cover the states of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana.

The map of the 2018 expedition (left)

The map of the 2018 expedition (left)

Some of the famous locations that will be marked and written about include:
*Lithuanian Plaza district of Chicago that once housed some 30 000 Lithuanians thus being the largest Lithuanian district outside Lithuania. It has the largest-outside-Lithuania Lithuanian church, Lithuanian monastery, Darius-Girėnas monument and more.
*"Draugas" publishing house that publishes the oldest Lithuanian-language newspaper in the world (Chicago).
*The house where the longest-serving Lithuanian president Antanas Smetona was killed and his grave (Cleveland).
*An East St. Louis Lithuanian church that is one of the best examples of "Modern Lithuanian" style that Lithuanian-Americans invented - so good it is considered a heritage by the county.
*A Spring Valley Lithuanian cemetery widely claimed to be haunted.
*The largest Lithuanian museums of America and their spectacular art collections (Chicago).
*Lithuanian cultural garden in Cleveland where sculptures for the most famous Lithuanians have been constructed.
*Chicago's St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery that is so great that it has been included in the "199 cemeteries to see before you die" book alongside such cemeteries as Paris's Père Lachaise and the Arlington National Cemetery.
*Holy Cross, The most elaborate Lithuanian church of Chicago that is included in the city's architectural guides.
*The sites related to the "Jungle" novel and the Chicago stockyards where many Lithuanians worked at.
*The graves of many famous Lithuanian artists and novelists who were forced to flee Lithuania due to the Soviet occupation.
And much more.

You may follow the expedition on Facebook "True Lithuania".

Destination Lithuanian America team: Augustinas Žemaitis and Aistė žemaitienė

Destination Lithuanian America volunteer team: Augustinas Žemaitis and Aistė žemaitienė. In the USA, they will be joined by some 200 Lithuanian-American volunteers.

Expedition to be more extensive

The map is being created by Augustinas Žemaitis, the owner of True Lithuania, and supported by the Lithuanian government as a part of Lithuanian centenary celebrations. In order to create the map, Augustinas visits every location, marking its GPS coordinates and taking photos. Local Lithuanians also tell the stories of the Lithuanian heritage sites which are written down and added to the "Global True Lithuania" encyclopedia of Lithuanian-American sites. Last year, the expedition took 16 days and some 200 people helped and this year that number is expected to increase as the expedition will take 25 days.

Last year, the mapping garnered significant attention in Lithuanian, Lithuanian-American, and American press, however, a question often lingered why such areas strong in Lithuanian history as Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit were not included. As Augustinas Žemaitis explained back then, this was due to limited funding but, if the first project would be successful, another expedition would be made to Midwest.

Indeed, not only the original sponsors and volunteers have returned for this year's expedition but the success of the first expedition attracted numerous private sponsors, among them Lithuanian-Americans Donatas Januta, Algirdas Avižienis, Darius Vaškelis. This made it possible to expand the scope of the expedition further by including also some areas of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, skipped by the 2017 expedition. Support from the Lithuanian national TV will make it possible to cover the expedition in a series of videos to be aired.

The expanded map will be published online before December 2018. The Global True Lithuania articles on Lithuanian heritage will also be updated by then.

The results of the previous-year project may be read at the online encyclopedia of Lithuanian-American sites in articles for each location. Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachussetts (Athol/Gardner, Boston, Brockton, Merrimack Valley, Springfield, Worcester), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York (New York City, Upstate New York), Pennsylvania (Coal Region (South), Coal Region (North), Du Bois, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh), Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (DC).

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. Can’t wait till they arrive in my home town if Westville, Illinois I would happily host them fir a night or two

  2. Could you add the Detroit Sculpture Park (called City Sculpture). This is a 17,000 square foot park displaying the works of the famous Detroit / Lithuanian artist, Robert Sestok.

    • Thank you for the information about this interesting site! However, according to our criteria, we only mark the sites that are “visibly Lithuanian”. There does not need to be much of Lithuanian details. Possible examples of what is acceptable: the author’s Lithuanian roots mentioned somewhere on-site (e.g. in a description at the entrance), Lithuanian details incorporated in at least a single sculpture, etc. If there are any such Lithuanian details on-site, please mention them and we would happily add the site. However, we are unable to add every location that was created by an author with Lithuanian roots, as there would be hundreds of thousands such sites in the USA (e.g. homes designed by architects with Lithuanian roots) and, in many cases, we wouldn’t even know if the author has Lithuanian roots as not everyone is public about his/her roots.

      That’s why we seek for sites where the author’s roots are somehow visible for visitors.

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