North Center/Lincoln Square/Roscoe Village Neighborhoods Area Guide

North Center

North Center is our home base.  It is located exactly in the center of the Northside of Chicago.  Its 15 minutes to downtown on the brown line el, 15 minutes to the Lake, 15 minutes to O’Hare and 15 mins to Evanston.  It is a solid and vibriant neighborhood, with great nightlife and an cool storefront shopping. This Chicago neighborhood provides homebuyers with a place to call home through a variety of desirable real estate options, ranging from riverfront property on the west end to grand Victorian houses with wrap-around porches in the east. North Center is a nice balance of residential blocks and business sections, with one-of-a-kind restaurants, a variety of art and antique dealers, a local theater venue and a slew of cozy bars.

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Then and Now
During the 1870s, the North Center neighborhood was only accessible by the Chicago River and by land that was known at the time as Little Fork Road, which is now known as Lincoln Avenue. In the late 1800s on through the early 1900s, roads were improved and the elevated train was extended making North Center easier to get to and more attractive to early settlers. Many European immigrants were drawn to the area and filled in the North Center neighborhood between two industrial districts, where most of the new residents worked.

Industry along the river played an important in the growth of Chicago. Clay was farmed from the banks in order to fulfill the high demand for brick buildings in the city after the Great Fire of 1871 inspired regulations against further wood frame construction. This boom in residential construction throughout Chicago carried over into North Center, resulting in a steady rise in population in the area. However, new residents began to protest the existence of the noisy and unattractive clay pits, which were eventually shut down and replaced with landfills. Over time these landfills have all been replaced with thriving riverside businesses, housing, and the neighborhood’s Revere Park.

Between 1940 and 1990 the neighborhood population dropped almost 40 percent, but the numbers are returning as area properties and businesses are restored and reestablished. Today, North Center is a vibrant family-based community where many generations have stayed through the years of fluctuation.

Real Estate
North Center offers a diverse mix of real estate with older architecture existing along side newly constructed properties. Aging apartment buildings are being converted into updated condos, as renovations are a constant in North Center. However, residents work hard to keep many of the beautifully crafted homes occupying spacious lots intact. The neighborhood offers a grand, long-established atmosphere of natural beauty and class due to the abundance of trees lining both residential and busy commercial streets.

The cost of houses in North Center are particularly less than in other north side Chicago neighborhoods that are closer to the lake or the Loop, but their values continue to rise. Many North Center homes provide amenities such as single and double car garages, which downtown residences don’t often see. With such a variety of housing options in North Center, the price of properties also ranges quite a bit, providing people from all walks of life with homeownership opportunities. For example, the sales price for a three- or four-bedroom single-family house in North Center ranges from the mid $300,000s to $1.5 million. These places can vary from older two-level homes to rehabbed stone walk-ups to new construction townhouses, many with picket fences and front porches providing that desirable curb appeal. One-bedroom condos start around $190,000 and reach into the mid $200,000s, while two-bedroom units (including both vintage and loft-style spaces) can cost up to $525,000, although the average sales price is around $325,000.

Night on the Town
With quality theater, live music, and cozy bars scattered throughout the neighborhood, North Center residents have their options for fun-filled evenings and weekends.
Theatre buffs can catch a stage performance at the American Theater Company (1909 W. Byron, 773 929 1031), which seats over 150 and focuses on the production of fresh new acts as well as classic plays that relate to American history and culture. Most performances put on by this theater troupe are highly regarded by local critics, creating an exciting hype that draws audiences from the neighborhood and all over the city of Chicago. For live music in North Center, the number one venue is Martyrs’ (3855 N. Lincoln, 773 404 9494) where the acts range feature a bit of everything and tables throughout the room are decorated in honor of late musicians. Martyrs’ serves pizza, sandwiches, hummus, and more to music-loving patrons up until a couple hours before they close.

The Brownstone Tavern & Grill (3937 N. Lincoln, 773 528 3700) is a charming spot with beautiful interior wood accents lit by chandeliers, candles and lamps. With a large beer garden and many classic brews available behind the mahogany bar, including Stella Artois, Harp and Fat Tire, Brownstone Tavern & Grill is a great place for everyone. The tavern features numerous flat screen TVs, along with excellent food. The Globe Pub (1934 W. Irving Park, 773 871 3757) is an oak-trimmed British pub with great atmosphere and noteworthy beer selection. The pub opens early for big games and offers a menu consisting of traditional hearty pub food, such as shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, as well as 20 or so beers on tap range from Boddington’s to Heineken.

For something different, head over to the Waveland Bowl (3700 N. Western, 773 472 5902). This bowling alley stays open 24 hours a day all year round and was founded in 1959, managing to stay modern with electronic scoring and cosmic (glow-in-the-dark) bowling. With 40 lanes, a large arcade room and spot to play pool as well as a lounge to throw back a few drinks between turns, Waveland Bowl also has a deli that serves up hot dogs, egg rolls, gyros and milkshakes. Dance Center Chicago (3868 N. Lincoln, 773 868 5044) is a second-floor dance studio in the heart of North Center. Dance Center instructs singles and couples in the fine arts of ballroom and Latin dance, and all skill levels are welcome. It’s a fabulous place to meet new people or to do something different with that significant other.

For more information on North Center visit the chamber of commerce website by clicking here

Lincoln Square

Lincoln Square is a quaint, four-block by four-block neighborhood is home to a rich culture overloaded with charm, amazing food and a continuing respect for the community’s Old World heritage. This neighborhood is one subsection of Chicago that has a distinctive feel all its own, with German culture revealed in its annual festivals and the hearty foods of mother Deutschland. Encircling the neighborhood’s main business and entertainment district, are rows of three- and four-flat buildings with a few single-family homes tucked in among the multi-unit brick and stone residences. A vintage movie theater and the city’s oldest bowling lanes find their home in Lincoln Square, as does Oktoberfest, where visitors come every year to celebrate their German roots.

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Then and Now
Like many Chicago neighborhoods, Lincoln Square was farmland until it provided a haven for residents who wanted to escape the polluted city center and live away from the hustle and bustle. In 1907, the area began to take shape after tracks for an elevated train reached the area. Near the train, houses sprung up rapidly as people ventured north and discovered ample land to build. Within a short time, German, Greek, and other immigrants began moving in.

By 1923, Lincoln Square neighborhood became an official part of the city of Chicago. This part of town was so successful during its early days that it was one area of the city not affected by the Great Depression, due to a successful business district complete with banks, a hotel, and a wide variety of shops.

In 1956, a statue of Abraham Lincoln was placed at the intersection of Lincoln, Western, and Lawrence avenues. Sculptor Avard Fairbanks designed the statue to resemble Lincoln at the time he visited Chicago during the 1850s.

In 1991, artist Lothar Speer gathered local students to paint a 3,000-square-foot mural on the Northern Home Furnishings building at the corner of Lincoln and Leland avenues. The enormous fresco captures charming German landscapes of the Black Forest and Lake Constanze while a multicultural group of children play together in the foreground — a symbolic homage to the current mix of ethnicities present in Lincoln Square neighborhood today.

Recently, a 30-foot maypole was erected as collaboration of efforts and funds from the Hofbraeu Brewery of Munich, the Glunz Brewery family, the Himmel family and the German Day Association. This pole honors the rich German heritage that helped found the Chicago neighborhood and is used in celebration every year with two huge festivals: Mayfest and the German-American Fest.

Real Estate
Residential homes circle the Lawrence/Lincoln/Western commercial district, with brick and stone, two- and three-flat buildings outnumbering the single-family homes. Some of these homes boast expansive porches and sizeable balconies, above tree lined streets. A few bungalows can be found along these streets, but the majority of residences are two- or three-story structures with multiple units.

Night on the Town
Moviegoers need not travel far since the low-priced Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln, 773 784 0893) is very near. The theater was built after World War I and Lincoln Square residents continue to fight to keep this living piece of history from being turned into condominiums. For another blast from the past, visit Lincoln Square Lanes (4884 N. Lincoln, 773 561 8191), which was opened in 1918 and is a medium-sized bowling alley situated above a hardware store. For more adult entertainment, try one of Lincoln Square’s tasteful bars. The Huettenbar (4721 N. Lincoln, 773 561 2507) offers some of the best German drafts at this fun Eastern European bar. Getting a seat by the Bavarian-style windows in the front of the room is a huge bonus during the summer when they open them up to let in the breeze.

The Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 N. Lincoln, 773 506 7090) fits the bill for those who favor hanging out at an Irish pub, with flat screen TVs and walls decorated with some cool prints of Ireland and panoramas of the northern Atlantic coastline. The kitchen serves up tasty menu options with tastey seafood like calamari, crab cakes and fish; in addition to traditional favorites: burgers and ribs. On the weekends, local musicians take the stage, adding a little live entertainment to the night.


Roscoe Village

Quiet and friendly, Roscoe Village is a north side Chicago neighborhood that is the ideal location for singles, couples and families who prefer a touch of big city living as opposed to a totally suburban lifestyle. The village is home to numerous conventional flats and vintage walkups, making the ideal home for young families who don’t need much space and appreciate the minimal yard work and grounds upkeep. For those who like to garden and stretch the legs a bit more, Roscoe Village also has a large number of private properties with plant-rich lots and traditional houses. With a rise in luxury new construction real estate, and a tradition in fine dining and nightlife, Roscoe Village has a highly metropolitan edge.

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Then and Now
Immigrant German and Swedish workers settled in Roscoe Village in the late 19th century. These immigrants worked primarily in the industrial depots along the Chicago River at the western most point of the village and the plants and factories on the eastern border. The post-war economic boom of the 1920s brought more development to the area, however much of the economy collapsed during the Great Depression and many of the warehouses and factories ceased operation, and their spaces went unoccupied.

After the federal interstate highway initiative in the 1950s made travel between the suburbs and city much easier, many villagers left the struggling community for the inexpensive homes and good schools. By the late 1970s, residential developers started to take notice of the location advantages of Roscoe Village with its proximity to many other up-and-coming neighborhoods, and looked to the old industrial corridors for urban pioneering.

With the housing explosion of the 1980s, much of the industrial space had been converted into loft condominiums, including the Eversharp Pencil Factory at Roscoe and Ravenswood. This particular conversion caught the attention of the entire city, due to its size of nearly a full city block and history. All the new rehabs and additional restoration of walk-ups caused real estate values to shoot up as did property taxes, forcing much of the working class out and bringing a more affluent class in.

Real Estate
Roscoe Village is a family and singles friendly Chicago neighborhood. Single-family homes dominate many of the garden-rich lots, but there are several three-story conventional walkups and duplexes are mixed in, accommodating every lifestyle. The average sales price for a one- or two-bedroom unit is around $336,000. Many of the neighborhood’s loft-style condos (in and about Ravenswood Avenue) have unique layouts that buyers can expect sale prices to range between $265,000 and the mid $300,000s for one-bedrooms, and up to the mid $500,000s for a two-bedroom place. With its near zero crime rate and good schools, Roscoe Village is seeing new lavish single-family homes going up in its residential areas. Many of these newer construction houses run into the two or three million dollar range, whereas the older homes, built in the 1920s on through the 70s, run half a mil and up.

Night on the Town
Roscoe Village keeps nights out more of a laid-back scene geared toward an evening of conversation rather than clubbing or dancing. Four Moon Tavern (1847 W. Roscoe St., 773-929-6666) is a neighborhood bar where the cheap beer specials and “beer of the month” choices seem the clientele’s drink of choice. The tavern is a popular after-show hangout for actors from Chicago’s theater scene, playbills and notices for new city productions scatter the bathroom tackboards. The Hungry Brain (2319 W. Belmont Ave., 773-935-2118) offers inexpensive specials on beer and cocktails, surrounded by pinball machines, ceramic brains on shelves, and oddball lamps that illuminate the crowd. The Village Tap (2055 W. Roscoe St., 773-883-0817) is a popular spot for locals for many years, it has a Cheers-like feel where bartenders know all the regulars’ names. Beer is again the libation of choice, with over 30 rotating draft beers, and great burgers and bar food with reasonable prices.

Waterhouse Tavern & Grill (3407 N. Paulina Ave., 773-871-1200) flies a red Wisconsin Badgers flag above its storefront, just below the “El” tracks and offers an outdoor patio. Waterhouse has daily food and drink specials, including two-dollar burgers on Mondays that are sure to please. Riverview Tavern (1958 W. Roscoe St., 773-248-9523) stays true to its Chicago sport allegiances, and is a popular pre- and post-Wrigley spot for fans. Others come to enjoy the spacious Old World pub feel, and the signature fish and chips, which tops the comfort food menu.

For the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce website click here