West Town - Uber cool
Chicago's West Town neighborhoods include Wicker Park, River West, Ukranian Village and East Village. While each of these neighborhoods is filled with impressive architectural feats from yesteryear, they are also brimming with trendy bars, restaurants and shops that teem with activity. In fact, taken as a whole, West Town is undeniably the trendiest area in all of Chicago. While always glamorous, West Town has not always been so urban-chic.
Wicker Park saw its first wave of development in 1871 when the Great Chicago Fire sent the newly homeless population of Chicago westward in search of usable land to rebuild their homes and lives. German and Swedish merchants were the two most predominant groups of people to move into Wicker Park, and remnants of their initial entry into the neighborhood can be seen today in the form of stunning mansions, particularly on Hoyne and Pierce. Wealthy beer brewers also built exquisite estates in Wicker Park. A flux of Polish immigrants toward the end of the 19th century helped diversify the area further and so, too, did the more recent introduction of Puerto Rican immigrants into the neighborhood.
In all, Wicker Park is a cosmopolitan neighborhood filled with an eclectic mix of residents and architecture. Today, trendy hipsters also make up a good deal of Wicker Park’s denizens. Artists, musicians and a variety of creative personalities have brought to Wicker Park a more recent reputation of being rather bohemian in nature. As diverse as its residents, so are Wicker Park’s shops and restaurants. Unique boutiques line Wicker Park’s streets. The abundance of one-off restaurants, bars and lounges draw people to the neighborhood from all over the city. Exploding with life, Wicker Park can truly be called a city (within the city) that never sleeps.
The Ukranian Village is similar to Wicker Park in a number of ways. The Ukranian Village neighborhood in West Town also boasts a healthy collection of stunning mansions and architectural treasures like old churches that are more than a century old. In its origins, Ukranian Village was home mostly to Eastern European immigrants and their offspring. Today, however, this neighborhood is as diverse as its northern neighbor, Wicker Park. Indeed, the gentrification of West Town as a whole has meant that the bulk of the neighborhoods that make up West Town have experienced quite a facelift. This fact contributes to the unique blend of old and new, of classic architecture set next to hipster hangouts and of gorgeous mansions sharing the streets with the homes of twenty-something artists and musicians.
River West is another neighborhood contained within West Town. River West is west of River North and is similar to its neighbor in that it is full of state-of-the-art condominium developments as well as plenty of interesting artists’ galleries. River West distinguishes itself from some of the other neighborhoods that comprise West Town in that is has a number of residential lofts that were converted in the 1980s for hip and urban living spaces. It is also slightly less energized than Wicker Park and Ukranian Village, which is a nice complement to the non-stop activity that infuses its counterparts. Additionally, River West is also slightly closer to the Loop, making a work-commute hassle-free.
On the whole, West Town encompasses some of the funkiest, most popular neighborhoods in all of Chicago. Gorgeous turn-of-the-century architecture reminds present-day residents of the area’s rich past. Endless lounges, restaurants, bars, clubs, boutiques and cafes draw people to the area from the furthest reaches of Chicago’s bounds. Artists and musicians fuse the neighborhoods and bring to them a creative flare and distinct aura. Hip and urban, these eclectic neighborhoods are nonetheless only minutes from the Loop via the Blue Line and a number of CTA Bus lines.