The West Town Chicago neighborhood is a large community area that includes a handful of distinct neighborhoods: East Village, Noble Square, Polish Downtown, Pulaski Park, Smith Park, Ukrainian Village, and Wicker Park. It also includes River West and East Humboldt Park (though some sources don’t consider the latter a separate neighborhood).
The boundaries of West Town are the former railroad tracks on Bloomingdale Avenue on the north, the Chicago River on the east, the Union Pacific railroad tracks on the south, and a jagged western border that includes Humboldt Park proper.
Importantly, the area that falls under the umbrella of “West Town” varies depending on the source, but what I’ve listed above is the definition of the West Town community area according to the city of Chicago. Some resources consider Chicago Avenue as West Town’s northern border, and the expressway as its eastern border, greatly reducing the size of West Town. When “West Town” is referenced, it’s most often used to refer to the areas of East Village and Noble Square, which will be the primary focus of this neighborhood guide.
Read on for a deeper dive into what it’s like to live in West Town Chicago.
West Town is also known for its plentiful boutiques along Chicago, Ashland, Grand, and Damen. This area includes gems such as quirky gift shop RR#1, vintage and handmade boutique Dovetail, and 1930s to 1980s decor and clothing purveyor Seek Vintage.
West Town has its fair share of green spaces. In the East Village and Noble Square areas, Eckhart Park is the largest at just over 8 acres. There’s a fieldhouse and indoor swimming pool, baseball diamonds, athletic fields, a playground, and a community garden. Movies in the Park, plays, concerts, and other Nights Out in the Park events are held at Eckhart Park throughout the year.
Pulaski Park is smaller, tucked into a densely populated neighborhood at the neighborhood’s eastern edge, near the Kennedy Expressway. It was built in 1912 in the middle of a predominantly blue collar Polish neighborhood and is named for Polish war hero Casimir Pulaski. Its three-story brick fieldhouse is iconic. According to the Chicago Parks District, “architect William Carbys Zimmerman designed the three-story brick field house to emulate Eastern European architecture familiar to the immigrant community.”
Many different immigrant communities originally settled in what is now West Town. The portion of the neighborhood east of Wood Street was mostly within the original city limits of 1837. Settlers were attracted to the area in the 1840s for railroad and factory jobs.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the population included Germans and Scandinavians in the north and northwest, Polish around Division and Ashland Streets, Russian Jews near Humboldt Park [LINK], Italians in the southeast, and Ukrainians in what is now Ukrainian Village. Latino populations moved into the area in the second half of the century. African Americans had lived in the neighborhood since the 1930s but more moved to the area, specifically Noble Square, in the 1970s.
Some parts of West Town have experienced gentrification, but it remains a diverse neighborhood with plenty of great pockets to live, work, and play.
If you’d like to learn more about West Town, I recommend exploring the following resources:
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