Community

Bucktown/Wicker Park Neighborhoods Area Guide

Bucktown

Home to numerous trendy restaurants and independent shops that mingle with classic neighborhood spots and unique artists’ galleries, Bucktown is one of Chicago’s most established and eclectic west side neighborhoods. The neighborhood offers a variety of popular dining establishments that attract people from all over the city to enjoy a nice dinner out or just grab a bite to eat. With endless menu choices and block after block of hip lounges, packed pubs and casual bars that host live bands and DJs to keep the parties going, Bucktown is one of Chicago’s most sought-after weekend hangouts. Poetry readings and one-man comedy acts share the stage with traveling musicians and local painters, as Bucktown is home to a thriving art and theater scene.

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Then and Now
In the early 1800s, Bucktown was established by Polish immigrants seeking refuge from their war-ravaged country. The town’s name is believed to have come from the large number of goats the early Polish settlers raised, as a buck is a male goat. Along with the Polish were settlers from Germany, Mexico, and Puerto Rico who, by 1840, had turned Bucktown into a large enough place to have its own post office and hotel. By 1910 Bucktown was referred to as Little Poland or Polish Downtown because of the dominating population of Polish-speaking immigrants. Less than half a century later the Polish community was outnumbered by a large Latino population. In the early 1990s a group of artists emerged from Bucktown that changed the community’s identity. With the renovation of older building into loft spaces, the construction of new low-rise condominiums, and an increasing population of young working singles, Bucktown soon became a hip place to be. Soon stylish stores, restaurants and bars all popped up, turning Bucktown into what is considered today to be one of Chicago’s most fashionable places to live.

Real Estate
Bucktown is a unique blend of historic architecture, with cobblestone paths and spectacular churches, and future architecture with refurbished condominiums, modern interiors, and innovative floor plans. Bucktown is primarily a residential neighborhood, with a mix of single-family homes and converted loft spaces, making it ideal for the young adults who flock to this hotspot. Most properties offer recently updated features like granite kitchen countertops, brand new stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring and remodeled bathrooms; not to mention private balconies and rooftop patios.

The average sales price for a one-bedroom in a multi-unit building is around $272,000 and $374,000 for a two-bedroom. Bigger places that have been completely rehabbed and decked out with upgraded amenities can be listed for as much as $800,000 or $900,000. A three-bedroom single-family detached home runs about $654,000 while private residences with more than three bedrooms in Bucktown push upwards of a million dollars.

Night on the Town 
Bucktown is packed with trendy hotspots, neighborhood bars, entertainment venues, and a great deal more nighttime activities. One popular bar is The Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne Ave, 773-252-7636), which is decorated with countless maps and tourist guides on the walls. This unique venue and serves more than 25 beers on tap, including Stiegl, Beamish and Delerium. Another popular place for locals to congregate is the bars and taverns that line Damen Avenue. Lemmings (1850 N. Damen Ave, 773-862-1688) displays the works of local artists and serves reasonably priced brew, all in a fun atmosphere only accented by a pool table, pinball and arcade games. The Quencher’s Saloon (2401 N Western Ave, 773-276-9730), carries an enormous variety of beers from around the globe including Leffe Blonde (Belgium), Hobgoblin (England) and La Fin du Monde (Canada), as well as numerous others. Another desirable location is The Meritage Cafe & Wine Bar (2118 N. Damen Ave, 773-235-6434) which offers a wine list that includes more than 30 selections, a contemporary American cuisine, and covered outdoor seating open year-round and additional tables in an open-air garden.

At Xcape (2346 W. Fullerton Ave, 773-315-1201) varying DJs spin Hip-Hop, Latin techno and house music. For those who love to dance, Ohm Nightclub (1958 W. North Ave, 773-278-4646) features a 6,000 square foot dance floor, five bars, loft ceilings, stained glass windows and exposed brick walls for a mellow kind of feeling. The club also offers a private room, named The Bridge, which features an exclusive drink and champagne menu and its own DJ. Finally there is the Caramel Ultra Sports Lounge (1540 W. North Ave, 773-292-1094), which is best known for mixed drinks and cocktails. With four flat-screen TVs broadcasting games, DJs who mix it up Thursday thru Sunday, and swanky touches like luxurious couches and creamy caramel-color lounge décor, the Caramel Ultra Sports Lounge has something for every hipster.

Wicker Park

Wicker Park is well known for its many art galleries, upscale boutiques and resale shops, chain restaurants, dive bars and lounges, and mom-and-pop joints. It is a Westside Chicago neighborhood that has long been a popular community for the young, families, and even some of the older generations. Wicker Park nightlife is a hotbed of venues for local bands, national artists and record-spinning DJs to rock and roll.

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Then and Now
Wicker Park was named for Joel and Charles Wicker who, in 1870, purchased 80 acres and built a small handful of houses surrounding a park. With the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Wicker brothers’ neighborhood experienced a wave of development when thousands of displaced Chicagoans were looking for new homes. Many wealthy Germans and Scandinavians chose to rebuild in this west side neighborhood, filling the streets with large, gothic brick mansions and stone manors.

In the early 1900s, the completion of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Line brought more development and businesses, specifically bakeries, blacksmiths, tailor shops, sausage makers and department stores. Wicker Park was booming, due to its close proximity to downtown, a centrally located park and beautiful architecture. Wicker Park neighborhood was an appealing home for some of Chicago’s most notable residents, including the Pritzkers (Hyatt Hotel founders), the Crowns (General Dynamics Corporations founders), film producer Michael Todd, and authors Saul Bellow and Nelson Algren.

However, around the time of the First World War, the face of the neighborhood began to change. The Germans and Scandinavians moved on and Polish immigrants took their places, transforming Wicker Park into a working-class neighborhood, despite the presence of the ornate mansions. A few decades later, the neighborhood grew more diverse with an increasing group of Puerto Rican and Mexican immigrants. Wicker Park was bursting at the seams, and to combat a shortage of housing the mansions were split into multi-family apartments. By the 1970s, much of the Polish population had moved north, and the neighborhood had gone from working-class to poor.

In the mid-eighties the art community recognized Wicker Park as artist’s ideal area. Wicker Park became a place close to the Loop with plenty of cheap studio space. Their arrival coincided with a community effort to revitalize the area, and gradually Wicker Park became distinctly bohemian, its small independent businesses and large number of galleries making it a completely unique Chicago neighborhood.

Today Wicker Park has become a blend of blue collar and white collar, artists and accountants, students and families, old mansions and new condos. Independently owned shops steadfastly maintain their territory as big flashy stores are welcomed into the neighborhood. Now recognized as a “hip” place to be, Wicker Park attracts many folks to its stylish and exciting locale where property values continue to rise and first-time homeowners oftentimes find their dream home.

Real Estate
When the Germans and Scandinavians fled to Wicker Park in the aftermath of the Chicago Fire, they built large, immaculate homes made of brick and stone. Pierce and Hoyne streets are known for these old homesteads, though by now many of them have been divided into two- or three-flats. In fact, Hoyne used to be known as “Beer Baron Row” because of the large number of wealthy brewery owners who built their houses there.

Many of Wicker Parks’ vintage houses remain along side plenty of new condos. Though not all residents agree with the new buildings, they provide affordable real estate to working singles, newlyweds and young families. This, combined with the vast amount of rental properties, makes Wicker Park a decidedly young neighborhood, with a smattering of west side veterans mixed in.

In general, the average sale price for a one-bedroom Wicker Park condo runs in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. A two-bedroom place can easily get into the $400,000s, and a three-bedroom unit pushes $700,000. For a detached single-family home however, you’re likely to hit the million-dollar mark.

Night on the Town
Wicker Parker residents love to go out to the numerous bars in the neighborhood. This ensures that no spot is ever too crowded and gives residents and visitors a variety to choose from. For music lovers, Wicker Park has an excellent selection of places to visit for live and recorded music. The historic Double Door (1572 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-489-3160) has hosted many a bands in its thirteen-year history including world-famous rockers Rolling Stones, Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair. The venue continues to showcase bands that are just on the verge of blowing up. The Note (1565 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-489-0011) does jazz, reggae, Brazilian and other world music until 4am, 5 on Saturdays. Nick’s Beergarden (1516 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-252-1155) never charges a cover charge and is always the place to go for loud music and a great beer selection. Wicker Park Tavern (1958 W North Ave, 773-278-5138) provides a redwood bar, amber lighting, modern jukebox and seven plasma TVs for your convenience. Estelle’s (2013 W North Ave, 773-782-0450) is a place to get booze and listen to the jukebox.

Beachwood Inn (1415 N Wood St, 773-486-9806) is a dive bar complete with cheap drinks, board games, pool, and one of the most eclectic jukeboxes in the neighborhood. Rodan (1530 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-276-7036) is technically a restaurant (with a focus on South American and Southeast Asian cuisine) that, after 9pm, becomes one of the hippest bars around. Debonair Social Club (1575 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-227-7990) emphasizes arts and culture, and while serving up drinks they show art videos and display projects, all chosen by their resident artistic curator. Debonair brings in nationally-known DJs like Steve Aoki, and has become a popular spot for lovers of house music. Empire Liquors (1566 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-278-1600) is sleek, with black covered windows, a concrete bar top, and the walls are metallic. For an easy, breezy place to just grab a simple beer, head down to Easy Bar (1944 W Division St, 773-227-4644).

For more information on Bucktown and Wicker Park visit the Chamber of Commerce website by clicking here