As a creative epicenter, foodie hub, and one of the city’s great nightlife destinations, Wicker Park has only gotten hipper in recent years.
The area is renowned for its architecture with buildings ranging from Art Deco landmarks on bustling Milwaukee Ave to historic mansions and modern condominiums on quiet side streets. Residents love the artsy laid-back vibe, great shopping, and location near the Loop on the CTA Blue Line and the Kennedy Expressway.
Wicker Park Neighborhood Guide
Wicker Park is a destination across Chicago for its music, nightlife, shopping, and dining scenes.
Wicker Park Shopping
Shops are primarily located on main corridors Damen, Milwaukee, and North Avenue (which meet at a dramatic intersection). These stretches have been called the “indie Magnificent Mile” due to the amount of stylish local boutiques, record shops, and bookstores they contain.
Wicker Park host a range of great restaurants from award-winning fine dining establishments to great mid-range options and classic Chicago joints. Local favorites include Big Star, a hip spot known for killer tacos and an extensive whiskey list, The Bongo Room, offering tasty brunch, and Sultan’s Market, serving traditional Middle Eastern food. In the mornings, residents enjoy cozy coffee shops including Inteligencia Coffee, a nationally famous roaster.
Culture and Entertainment
With great music venues, clubs, and art galleries, Wicker Park’s culture matches its commerce. One of the city’s great art destinations, art lovers will find several top galleries including Roots and Culture, Dreambox, and ARC Gallery. With local music venues such as The Empty Bottle, Subterranean, and The Hideout, top local bands and nationally touring acts come to you. A top nightlife destination, the area’s bars range from charming dives and local breweries to trendy cocktail joints like The Violet Hour.
In the summer, the Wicker Park Fest is recognized by the Chicago Tribune as the premiere summer street fest in the Chicago area as nationally renowned bands play alongside great food and drink and a creative art scene.
Local recreation options keep the area active. Chicago’s answer to New York’s High Line, The Bloomingdale Line (known locally as The 606) is a railway track converted to a public green space. Running east-west from Logan Square across the northern border of Wicker Park, the park is used by pedestrians, joggers, and bikers alike.
Another local favorite is Wicker Park. The park is only four-acres, but with a basketball court, playground, and a fieldhouse with a gymnasium and meeting rooms the park has much to offer. It even manages to fit in a lush community garden and an ice rink in the winter. A walkable, family-friendly area, the neighborhood also has several playgrounds and dog parks.
Wicker Park History
Settlement and Early History (1837-1900)
Part of Chicago since 1837, Wicker Park was originally a farming community. Many moved to the area after the Great Fire of 1871, and their brick and stone houses have long been a point of neighborhood pride. If one was to walk through the neighborhood in these early years, one would find a diverse community dotted with clothing, furniture, and musical instrument manufacturers along with breweries and steel mills.
Growth and Decline (1900-1980)
The neighborhood, like all of West Town, became home to many Polish immigrants through the first decades of the nineteenth century. At one point, the neighborhood was known as the center of Polish life in all of North America. After World War II, the construction of the Kennedy Expressway displaced much of the Polish community and many residents left for the suburbs. By the 1970s, the area had become predominately poor and working-class, with many historic mansions divided into multi-unit buildings.
Wicker Park Today (1980-Present)
Beginning in the early 1980s, the neighborhood began to experience a revival as many artists were drawn to the area by easy access to the Loop, cheap loft space, and the area’s lovely architecture. Following the artists’ lead, many students, professionals, families, and businesses were drawn to the area. Today, Wicker Park is consistently rated as one of Chicago’s best residential areas to rent or buy.
Wicker Park Homes
Wicker Park is unique, featuring the perks of the big city on bustling commercial corridors, while on side streets lie quiet tree-lined blocks. Housing options in the neighborhood include brick mansions, restored single-family homes new construction townhomes, and trendy lofts and condominiums. With beautiful homes, creative culture, and easy access to the Loop, it’s no surprise that this laid-back neighborhood has taken off in a big way. Come and join the party!