In this series of blog posts, we provide a summary of the neighborhoods where we’re currently listing and developing homes. In this post, I’ll be focusing on Lincoln Square Chicago.
Lincoln Square is the name of both a community area and a neighborhood. The former encompasses the latter, as well as Ravenswood Gardens, Bowmanville, and Budlong Woods.
The neighborhood of Lincoln Square centers around Lincoln Square proper, a one-way stretch of Lincoln Avenue that is pedestrian- and family-friendly. This area is full of locally owned, globally inspired shops and restaurants. Abraham Lincoln oversees his namesake street in statue form, stovepipe hat in hand.
The Lincoln Square sign, marking the entry to the district where Lincoln Avenue runs into the intersection of Lawrence and Western. Photo cropped from the original by Andrew Seaman via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.
The neighborhood’s German heritage is apparent in annual parades and festivals, brick-and-mortar eateries and shops, and more formally with the DANK Haus German American cultural center. The DANK Haus is home to a single-gallery museum and is frequently used for event rentals.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Lincoln Square.
Entertainment and Eating
Lincoln Square is truly a taste of the world. Within the neighborhood, you’ll find flavors inspired by Argentina, France, Greece, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Thailand. Café Selmarie has anchored Giddings plaza with a European flair since 1983. Head just blocks off of the main drag on Lincoln to find restaurants dishing up Japanese, Filipino, and new American food. Independent grocers, delis, bakeries, and specialty shops abound. Local landmark, Merz Apothecary, has been in the business of unique, natural health products since 1875.
Merz Apothecary is a Lincoln Square landmark. Established in 1875 by Swiss immigrant Peter Merz, it was built in the European tradition to serve fellow European immigrants in the neighborhood. It was owned by several generations of the Merz family until 1972, when Ralph Merz was ready to retire without a successor and it was purchased by the current owner, Abdul Qaiyum. Merz moved to its current location in 1982. Photo by Joel Mann via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
No guide of this neighborhood would be complete without mention of the Old Town School of Folk Music. This gem of Chicago music offers classes for musicians of all ages and skillsets, across an impressive variety of instruments, as well as instrument repair. Of course there’s a music store on site. Plus, the Old Town School hosts frequent live music by an eclectic variety of artists.
The Davis Theater in Lincoln Square. Originally known as Pershing Theater and built in 1918, the Davis Theater now shows current films in a recently renovated space. It’s the longest continually operating theater in Chicago. Photo derived from the original by Alexander Rabb via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. (This photo is from 2010, prior to the 2016 renovation.)
The neighborhood’s three big parks are Welles, Winnemac, and River Parks. Welles Park is in the heart of Lincoln Park, with a beautiful gazebo that serves as a gathering and performance space for artists. It has a great indoor pool, horseshoe pits perfect for a leisurely game, and is conveniently located right across the street from a local branch of the library.
Winnemac Park is part of the Chicago Parks system but is also a school park, meaning it includes land owned by both the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District. Its nearly 40 acres adjoins Eliza Chappell Elementary School on the northwest and Amundsen High School on the northeast. The park is known for its prairie garden, playground, trails, softball fields, soccer field, track, and gym.
River Park lies on the neighborhood’s western border, at the convergence of the Chicago River and canal. Visitors enjoy its fishing, canoe launch, swimming pool, and interactive water playground in the summer months and its artificial turf soccer field running track, and soft-surface playground year-round.
A train crossing in Lincoln Square. Photo cropped from the original by rebecca anne via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
A typical commute to the Loop from Lincoln Square using public transportation is around 40 to 45 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s just under an hour. By car, a typical drive to the Loop without traffic would take about 20 to 25 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be 20 to 25 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com considers Lincoln Square very walkable. Note that they define the neighborhood’s boundaries a bit differently and that central Lincoln Square is a walker’s paradise, meaning daily errands don’t require the use of a car. The neighborhood has good transit and is very bikeable.
According to Zillow, home values in Lincoln Square rose 4.1% in the past year and are projected to increase 7% in the next year — making this a good time to buy. The median home value in Lincoln Square is more affordable than nearby areas, including Ravenswood Manor (by 70%), North Center (by 53%), and Bowmanville (by 47%). The neighborhood amenities of Bowmanville in particular are close enough for most everyone living in Lincoln Square to enjoy, especially those on the neighborhood’s south side.
A Bit of History
Krause Music Store at 4611 N. Lincoln Avenue. The ornamental façade was designed by Louis Sullivan in 1922. This National Historic landmark building is now used as offices for a design firm. Photo adapted from the original by Eric Allix Rogers via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Lincoln Square was originally founded by mostly Swiss, German, and English truck farmers in the 1830s and 40s. Flowers, celery, and pickles were mass-produced and Polish workers from Chicago were frequently employed for this seasonal work.
Bowmanville was developed for residential use in 1850 “by a local hotel keeper who disappeared before his customers discovered that he did not own the land he had sold,” according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. The huge Rosehill Cemetery, on Lincoln Square’s northeast side, opened in 1859, and Ravenswood was developed as an exclusive subdivision for commuters in 1868.
The area’s farmland transitioned to residential property not long after the electric street railways made it to Lincoln Square in the 1890s. Greeks flocked to the area in this time, notably through the 1920s.
To address concerns about the lagging popularity of the Lincoln Square shopping area, in 1956 merchants erected the Abraham Lincoln statue that still stands. In 1978, they rerouted traffic to create today’s pedestrian plaza surrounded by European-style shops — and proprietors began to move in.
If you’d like to learn more about Lincoln Square, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Heart of Lincoln Square Neighbors Association
- Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago Lincoln Square entry
- “Have global tastes but want a hometown feel? Consider Lincoln Square living” from the Chicago Tribune (August 2017)
Interested in living in Lincoln Square? I’m working on a few upcoming listings in the area, so check back to my Listings page. And feel free to contact me for more information on buying a home in Lincoln Square.