In this series of blog posts, we’re providing a summary of the neighborhoods where we’re currently listing and developing homes. This one is on Wicker Park, a hip residential neighborhood with a Josh Hartnett movie named after it. Wicker Park is artsy and hipster and foodie and historic all at once; it’s truly one of the city’s cultural hotspots.
Wicker Park is located immediately west of the Chicago River and I-90/I-94. It’s bound by Bloomingdale on the north, Ashland on the east, Division on the south, and Western on the west. Wicker Park is home to around 9,000 Chicago residents.
The neighborhood’s namesake park is roughly in the center of the area. It’s a 4-acre park with a fieldhouse, a community garden, a historical fountain, sports fields and courts, and a dog-friendly area. The Wicker Park Farmers Market takes place in the park on Sundays from June through October and is one of many events that the park hosts.
Also, the Bucktown-Wicker Park branch of the Chicago Public Library system is conveniently located on North Milwaukee.
The neighborhood is both a National Historic District (as of 1979) and a Chicago Landmark (as of 1991), and much of its beautiful original architecture stands.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Wicker Park.
Entertainment and Eating
North Milwaukee cuts through the neighborhood on a NW to SE diagonal and is an epicenter of Things To Do, from dining to music venues. There are tons of resources out there for where to eat–from the likes of Time Out Chicago (including a separate “cheap eats” article), The Infatuation, more “cheap eats” from Chicago Eater, The Culture Trip, Thrillist, and so many more with 100x my foodie cred. Check a handful of them out and know that, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a Michelin-starred / James-Beard-award-winning meal, Wicker Park has you covered.
North Damen runs through Wicker Park from north to south and is a hotspot for cafes and boutiques–tackling the street by foot is a great way to spend a weekend morning or afternoon (or both).
Community gatherings and events are plentiful in Wicker Park, too. One example (among many): Wicker Park Fest, an annual summer festival, was named “Chicago’s Best Street Festival of the Summer ” by the Chicago Tribune.
There are plenty of art galleries in this neighborhood, too — many of them in the Flat Iron Arts Building, which is pictured below.
A typical commute to The Loop by rail from Wicker Park is about 20 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s about 35 minutes. By car, a typical drive to The Loop without traffic would take about 15 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare is 20 minutes, sans traffic.
The Damen Metra stop on the Blue Line anchors the neighborhood, but there are also plenty of bus routes throughout Wicker Park. The 50 stops at Damen and Wabansia frequently, with a maximum wait time of 17 minutes between stops Monday through Friday [bus schedule PDF]. Photo by Sara D. via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
Walkscore.com gives Wicker Park a walk score of 94, meaning it’s considered a “walker’s paradise.” In fact, the website deems Wicker Park the 5th most walkable neighborhood in Chicago. The neighborhood’s public transportation is rated as excellent, and it’s very bikeable.
According to Zillow, home values in Wicker Park actually declined a bit over the past year, though they are projected to increase by 0.8% in the next year. Due to its popularity, it is one of the pricier neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity.
A Bit of History
This section is mostly distilled from a fantastic longer piece on the Wicker Park Committee’s website:
Brothers Charles G. and Joel H. Wicker, businessmen and developers, began laying out the area as a subdivision in 1870, the same year they donated the triangular Wicker Park proper to the city. They had settled in Chicago in 1839 and had run a wholesale grocery business. The pair hoped Wicker Park would be “a fashionable middle- and upper-class neighborhood.”
As with much of the city, Wicker Park developed in large part after the Great Fire of 1871. Almost half of the historical buildings that still exist in the Milwaukee Avenue District were built between 1877 and 1895. There are many large Victorian-era homes surrounding the park, and Pierce and Hoyne streets specifically offer some of the city’s best examples of this type of architecture. Hoyne was dubbed “Beer Baron’s Row” because of the many brewery owners who built homes on that street. Furthermore, in 1895 the “L” was constructed along Milwaukee, making Wicker Park a true (accessible) destination beyond downtown. The neighborhood boomed and was full of immigrants from the world over through the 1920s, until the Great Depression hit.
After the Depression, low-income housing was common in Wicker Park. The neighborhood fluctuated for decades. Wicker Park’s Latino population grew from 1% to almost 40% between 1960 and 1970, adding a diversity that still shines today. Then, in 1979, Wicker Park was designated a National Historic District, harkening an era of development that has, in some shape or form, stretched through to today.
If you’d like to learn more about Wicker Park, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce
- Wicker Park Committee
- The Infatuation’s “All The Best Things To Do In Wicker Park”
- Time Out Chicago’s Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhood guide
- For those really into the neighborhood’s history: Wicker Park from 1673 Thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide, a 288-page book about Wicker Park’s evolution over time. The walking tour includes over 460 structures!
If you’re interested in living in Wicker Park, check out 1336 N Oakley, a beautifully rehabbed single family home.
Please contact me directly for more information on buying a home and living in Wicker Park.