Lorain’s International Legacy
During the immigration wave of 1880-1914, most Ukrainian immigrants came to the U.S. from far-western sections of Ukraine, only identifying as Ukrainian by formality. 85%-95% of early immigrants that spoke Ukrainian were essentially Rusyn or Ruthenian, coming from what was formerly part of Austria-Hungary. Many of these immigrants identified themselves as Austrian or, in Greater Cleveland, as Hungarian. Since World War I, Rusyns and Ruthenians that previously identified as coming from the Austro-Hungarian empire saw their identity evolve into Ukrainian, particularly amongst people from Galicia, north of the Carpathian Mountains. Rusyns are now included as Ukrainians when identifying on the U.S. census.
The steel industry of Greater Cleveland helped make Cleveland a center of Ukrainian immigration. Ukrainians established St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Lorain. More Ukrainian immigrants emigrated following the failure of Ukraine’s independence from the USSR. By 1947, St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church was established.
The first queen of the Lorain International Festival princess pageant was Irene Kychun, representing Ukrainian heritage.