Chicago Bucktown/Wicker ParkWicker Park/Bucktown:
’s Crossroads of Cool ChicagoWicker Park/Bucktown Restaurants with Private Dining:
The emergence of the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhoods over the past decade-plus as perhaps the hippest section of
happened for a variety of reasons. But now that the charge toward gentrification has taken firm hold in these side-by-side communities, the area hasn’t looked back. Chicago
Here are some thoughts as to how this historic northwest side neighborhood – once downtrodden, deserted and downright dangerous -- is now at the crossroads of what’s truly cool in
First, there’s its location. The neighborhood is between two and three miles straight northwest of downtown, accessible by the Damen Avenue Blue Line stop, several bus lines and the Kennedy Expressway, which forms its eastern border. That makes getting to Wicker Park/Bucktown and its bohemian-chic shops, night spots and restaurants is a breeze from most parts of the city and beyond. One caveat: Parking will be a challenge, especially most evenings and on weekends.
Second, the neighborhood contains some of the oldest business and housing stock in
because, for a time, it formed the northwest boundary of the city. In the years before and certainly after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the blocks throughout the neighborhood saw development of businesses that produced clothing, furniture, musical instruments, cigars and beer, to name a few. (A bit of trivia: The drums Ringo Starr played during the Beatles’ heyday of the mid 1960s were made at the Ludwig Drum Company on Damen Avenue. The former drum factory now houses condos. Chicago
And, housing, lots of housing, filled in the remaining lots. Many of the city’s elite families built impressive stone mansions on side streets west of Damen. Workers cottages and multi-unit housing were built, too. This concentration of vintage housing and commercial structures provides urban character not found in any other part of the city, perhaps outside of
. Lincoln Park
And, third, there is an actual park there. Granted, the four-acre namesake park is not big by some standards, but it does offer something for everyone, from softball fields and a basketball court to a spray fountain, park house and gardens. Named after businessmen Charles and Joel Wicker, the park is always alive with people and activity, especially in the summer months.
A visit to the neighborhood should start at the six-corner intersection of
, North and Damen Avenues. It’s here you’ll find the famous Flat Iron building, home to artists galleries and out-of-the-ordinary shops, and a slender Art Deco office tower that clearly is the most prominent structure for miles around. From this in-city town center, a visitor can stroll in any direction and find something of interest. Milwaukee
Head south on Damen, and you’ll reach
, which also boasts some impressive pre-turn-of-the-century homes along its borders, many meticulously restored. The area’s most famous resident – legendary Wicker Park writer Nelson Algren – lived for a while on Evergreen Street, a block south of the park. Venture north on Damen for a block, and you’ll pass the always busy Northside Bar and Grill, with its light-filled three-season dining patio, and the Goddess and the Grocer, a gourmet food carryout store. Further north, the thoroughfare is home to some of Chicago ’s hippest independent boutiques, as well as the newest store from fashion icon Marc Jacobs. The east-west running North Avenue is the unofficial dividing line between Chicago (to the south) and Bucktown (to the north). Here you’ll find restaurants ranging from a pizza/brew pub called Piece at 1923 W. North Avenue to the upscale Spring, a seafood-oriented restaurant housed in a former Turkish bath house at 2039 W. North Avenue . A few franchise retailers have set up shop along North Avenue , but most the thoroughfare reflects the eclectic character of Wicker Park/Bucktown. Wicker Park
The diagonal-running Milwaukee Avenue is perhaps the most fascinating of the area’s major streets. From Division Street on the south to well north of North Avenue ,
Milwaukee still reflects the neighborhood’s rough-and-tumble past. Stores selling cheap furniture and religious goods share a block with art galleries, clothing and jewelry boutiques and restaurants that offer the latest from the culinary world. Near the six-corner apex is the famous Double Door, a music venue with entrances on both and Damen. On-the-edge rock acts usually are on the bill most nights, but the room gained international attention when the Rolling Stones performed there in 1997. Those fortunate enough to gain entry paid $7. Milwaukee
Bucktown/Wicker Park Chicago trendsetters have made the Bucktown/Wicker Park area a shopping haven. To say this place is hip, hot and happening is an understatement.
This fast-evolving neighborhood of single-story store fronts offers merchandise responsive to the needs, the tastes, and the buying power of this diverse and increasingly affluent area. New store openings are frequent occurances and contribute to the buzz of the area.
Within a two-mile radius of the area's Six Corners, the intersection of North, Damen and Milwaukee Avenues just northwest of downtown Chicago, shoppers can find an overwhelming selection of locally-owned stores for every taste and style.
The area's shopping is concentrated along four main streets: Division St., Damen Ave., Milwaukee Ave. and North Ave.
Bring your walking shoes, as this area is packed with local gems for everything from designer clothing for men and women, accessories, home furnishings, children's stores, specialty and thrift stores. It is not unusual to see many local businesses mentioned in well-known local and national publications.
Looking for Chicago designers?
Chicago boutiques, including Habit and p. 45, are big supporters of local designers as evidenced by the availability of merchandise. Michelle Tan recently opened a boutique carrying her clothing line in addition to a small selection from other local talent.
Although some big names are here, including American Apparel, Crossroads Trading, and Urban Outfitters, the unique-to-Chicago boutiques are what attract the fashion-savvy who demand style that is affordably different. The real fashion finds are the select pieces from new designers and brands on the brink of discovery. Local store owners scour the world for these treasures, bringing them back to style-hungry Chicagoans. And their choices do not disappoint! Bucktown/Wicker Park residents are not afraid to venture off the beaten path, and the stores they shop in reflect their celebration of the unconventional. As you can see, the shopping is as diverse as the neighborhood.
Divison St. In the growing Wicker Park neighborhood, a walk down Division St. yields a treasure of locally-owned clothing boutiques, home furnishings and specialty stores, mostly upscale, and a peek at the must-haves of the season. As this area evolves, with new stores opening in previously empty storefronts, it's not hard to see why Division St. garners the attention of shoppers.
For a look at the latest trends in clothing, Plein Aire and Public I carry premium brands with a classic yet stylish approach. Penelope's offers vintage-inspired finds for men/women, and Habit, a local favorite, showcases clothing and accessories from local designers. Newly opened Grow carries everything you need for baby from a large selection of organic clothing to accessories and furnishings.
For home furnishings, Porte Rouge carries tableware from France and Italy and a selection of kitchen products and Symmetry has area rugs from Nepal and accessories with an Asian flair.
For gift items, Elevenzees is centered around health that the whole family will enjoy. Products include gourmet foods, tableware, home accessories, bath products, baby gifts, candles, and exercise gear. An·jé·nu, a fine paper boutique, carries greeting cards, invitations and other gift items, including notecards from philoSophie's and local designers.And bring your pampered pooch to Doggy Style, a boutique with the latest in beds, treats, toys and clothing. Check out their raw food selections, organic toys and beds, and adorable clothing that will match your Kate Spade shoes. A doggy wash area is perfect for bath day.
Damen Ave. The stretch of Damen Ave. from the intersection of North/Milwaukee to Webster Ave. extends about a mile, and is packed with locally-owned upscale stores selling everything for the entire family - clothing, accessories, home furnishings and specialty stores. This popular stretch in Bucktown continues to grow as evidenced by retail neighbors new to the block over the past year.
Upscale designer clothing and accessory boutiques for men and women line the street and include Apartment No. 9 (men), Belly Dance Maternity, City Soles/Niche (shoes), Helen Yi, Malabar (M/W), Michelle Tan, p.45, Raizy and Roslyn. Psycho Baby, Red Balloon and Rue 21 for the kids round out choices for the entire family.Home furnishings selections span the world. Browse the upscale selections at Stitch for contemporary furniture, accessories and gifts, Wow & Zen for Asian antiques with a country feel, The Painted Lady for hand-painted, one-of-a-kind antique furniture, and Embelezar for exotic furnishings. C’est Moi carries home accessories with a feminine touch.Specialty stores abound and include Goddess & Grocer for gourmet packaged and freshly prepared foods, Soutache for ribbons and embellishments to create your own designs, and The Red Dog House for pampering your pup.Visit Hereschicago.com for your next party in Wicker Park/Bucktown for your corporate event, bachelor/bachelorette party, private party, wedding, social event, fundraiser, graduation party, company party, holiday party, opening night convention event and more.