Wicker Park Bucktown
Over the last ten years, the enclave of Wicker Park and Bucktown, centered around the six corners of Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues. Gentrification has transformed Wicker Park. It was previously known as the “Brooklyn” of Chicago.
Wicker Park and Bucktown remain a vibrant hub of culture and commerce in Chicago, riddled with boutiques, restaurants, cocktail bars, concerts venues and condos. Here’s the best of the neighborhood.
The Wicker Park District has been part of Chicago since its incorporation as a city in 1837. The furthest northwest point of the city was North Avenue and Wood Street. In 1847 the city’s western boundary moved to Western Avenue. By 1853, the heart of what would become the Wicker Park District: North, Milwaukee, and Damen, was occupied by homes on the corners of North and Milwaukee and by a public well on the northwest corner of North and Damen.
Industry first came to the area in 1857 when the Rolling Mill Steel Works opened along the river near Ashland and Armitage. An Irish community settled in that area providing the major source of labor for the mill. Establishing homes and businesses along major avenues, including Ashland and Milwaukee, people pushed further out of the city. Clothing, furniture, musical instrument, cigar manufacturers and breweries, to name a few, would eventually add to the industrial scene of the District.
Germans and Norwegians were the first ethnic groups pushing out of the city along the immigrants’ path to prosperity, Milwaukee Avenue. They were followed by the Jews and then the Poles. Grocery store offerings included “flour, feed, and pressed hay,” while a corset shop guaranteed a perfect fit and repairs free of charge for one year.
In 1900 The Wicker Park Eagle newspaper began publishing “in the interest of Wicker Park and the North-West Side.” Its masthead assured readers that it was “The North-West Sides Most Exquisite Newspaper. Spicy and Clean.” Other businesses included stables (some of which also rented carriages and hearses), blacksmiths, tailor shops, sausage-makers, coal, wood, stone and lumber yards, laundries, greenhouses, milk depots, bakeries, drug stores, dye works, and eventually large department stores.
Wicker Park Advisory Council offers free yoga classes hosted at the park each week rain or shine.