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 living in Lake View Chicago.
Lake View — also spelled Lakeview — is a neighborhood on Chicago’s north side. Its boundaries vary depending on which source you consult. It runs, more or less, from Irving Park Road in the north to Diversey in the south, and the lakeshore on the east to Ravenswood Ave on the west. Some sources include West Lake View — which covers the area from Ashland on the east to the river on the west, north to Belmont and up around the west side of Roscoe Village to Addison — under this umbrella. Others consider Lake View East, from Halsted to the lakeshore, a separate neighborhood. Lake View East includes Boystown, a small but vibrant area that’s home to one of the largest LGBT communities in the Midwest and has hosted Chicago’s annual Pride Parade since 1971. Wrigleyville is often pulled out as a separate neighborhood, but not always.
Regardless of where the lines get drawn, Lake View brings together some of the best that Chicago has to offer: a gorgeous stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, beautiful historic architecture, a laidback and welcoming vibe, myriad options for arts and culture, tons of local restaurants and bars, and some of the city’s best shopping corridors.
At the home level, living in Lake View Chicago means tree-lined blocks, historic architecture, and access to outstanding schools.
The neighborhood’s historic residential districts include Hawthorne Place District, a historic Chicago district with home’s built at the turn of the 20th century; the Alta Vista Terrace, where homes were built in 1904 in a variety of styles to imitate the rowhouses of London; and the Meekerville Historic District, where three properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Chicago.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day to be living in Lake View Chicago.
Entertainment and Eating
Dining options are nearly endless in Lake View. According to the Lakeview Supper Club, there are 300 unique dining experiences in Lakeview East alone. (The produced a 52-page dining guide for 2019, so we can take their word for it.) The neighborhood has everything from fast casual restaurants to fine dining, with tons of cafes and bars sprinkled into the mix.
No guide of Lake View would be complete without mention of the Belmont Theater District, the city’s largest theater district, home to more than 50 theaters within a short walking distance. There’s always a live show to take in. Fans of films will enjoy catching an indie or foreign flick at the beautiful Music Box Theatre, which was built in 1929.
Live music junkies will enjoy all of the neighborhood’s many independent venues. And true music nerds (like me) will be regulars at Chicago Music Exchange, purveyors of vintage guitars and gear as well as new instruments and accessories.
Lake View’s shopping is some of the best the city has to offer. Districts worth checking out include the Southport Corridor, Broadway in East Lakeview, Belmont near Boystown, and Lincoln Avenue between Belmont and Diversey. The Century Shopping Centre was built in 1925 as Diversey Theatre and is now home to a handful of stores as well as a cinema.
The green space along the lakeshore on Lake View’s east side is one of the neighborhood’s treasures. This stretch of Lincoln Park includes Belmont Harbor, the dog-friendly Belmont Harbor Beach, two golf courses, a bird sanctuary, and more.
Finally, I can’t forget about Wrigley Field, built in 1914 and undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to catch a ball game.
A typical commute to the Loop from Lake View using public transportation takes around 25 to 30 minutes, door to door, depending on when you get out the door. To get to O’Hare Airport via public transportation takes 50 minutes to an hour or so. By car, a typical drive to the Loop without traffic takes about 15 to 25 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare is similar, again without traffic.
Walkscore.com considers Lake View a walker’s paradise, meaning daily errands do not require a car. The neighborhood has excellent transit and is considered very bikeable.
According to Zillow, the median home value in Lake View is more affordable than in a number of nearby neighborhoods, including Sheffield Neighbors, West De Paul, Wrightwood Neighbors, North Center, and Wrigleyville. However, depending on where one lives in Lake View, the amenities of one or two of these neighborhoods are likely within easy access of your home.
A Bit of History
Lake View was named after Hotel Lake View, built on the lakeshore in 1853, which took its name from the obvious — what visitors saw as they looked out from the building.
As residents fled downtown Chicago due to the cholera epidemic, many came to Lake View. This led to the building of “Lake View Plank Road” from Fullerton to what it is now Irving Park Road. This old plank road is now Broadway.
Originally a truck farming region well-known for its celery output, industry arrived in the 1880s. The town of Lake View was incorporated into the city in 1887, and many residences that still stand today were constructed during the ensuing real estate boom.
Commercial and recreational facilities — including shopping districts and Wrigley Field — in the early 1900s drew more residents, as well as visitors. In the middle of the century, high-rise apartments and multi-unit low-rises were built to addressing housing shortages. It was around this time that a gay male population began growing in what was called “New Town” in the 1960s and 70s, gaining its current name, Boystown, in the 1980s. The LGBTQ community took literal ownership in this area in the form of commercial and residential property, setting down roots that have dug deeper up to the present day. Boystown was officially recognized as the Chicago’s gay district in 1997, making it the first-ever gay neighborhood that was officially recognized by a large city.
If you’d like to learn more about living in Lake View Chicago, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce
- Lakeview Chamber of Commerce
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago’s Lake View entry
- Southport Corridor’s active news & events Facebook page
- Belmont Theater District
- Northalsted Business Alliance
- The Grid: Exploring Boystown in the Chicago Sun-Times
- “Examining the Past, Present, and Future of Chicago’s First Gay Neighborhood” in The Daily Beast
Interested in living in Lake View Chicago? I don’t have any active listings in the neighborhood at this point, but I have a couple of things in the works… Please feel free to contact me for more information on buying — or selling — a home in Lake View.