10 Great Neighborhoods in Chicago

From River North to the Gold Coast, to Wicker Park and the South Loop, discover some of Chicago's best neighborhoods and find out which one is right for you.

Photo via Wikipedia The 88,000-square-foot Flat Iron Arts building in Wicker Park intersects three points: Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues, in the heart of one of the artsiest Chicago neighborhoods. Artists, musicians, actors and other theatrical types began leasing up the cheap rentals in the area in the '90s. But the neighborhood has moved through expected gentrification as the hip factor spread and more Chicagoans re-discovered the area.

Bucktown/Wicker Park

Boundaries: Bucktown: Between Fullerton Avenue south to North Avenue, from Western Avenue east to Kennedy Expressway/Ashland Avenue; Wicker Park: Between North Avenue south to Division Street, from Western Avenue east to Ashland Avenue

Goats used to graze in what is now considered one of the hippest and trendiest neighborhoods in Chicago -- if not the country. The popular theory is that Bucktown got its name from the male goats, or bucks, that were raised by the Polish immigrants who fled their war torn country in the 1800s. Throughout the years, Bucktown saw many waves of immigration, primarily Polish until World War I, then Jewish in the early 1900s and Latino around 1960.

It was in the 1980s that Bucktown began to evolve into the artistic community that it is known as today. The lower rents in the undiscovered area and its proximity to downtown made it a natural choice for musicians and artists looking to stretch their bucks a little further. As the area became more popular, rents began to climb, pushing people south to Wicker Park. The dividing line between the two is North Avenue, with Bucktown to the north and Wicker Park to the south.

“Because of its infrastructure, [Bucktown’s] one of the easiest neighborhoods to get in and out of,” says Thaddeus Wong, co-founder of @properties, a Chicago real estate brokerage firm. “It’s a very diverse economic neighborhood. You’ve got $2 million homes scattered throughout the neighborhood with condos, lofts and townhomes.”

Serious rehabbers seek out Wicker Park for the unusual, for instance, this converted firehouse and a "pod" house located here was the grand prize architectural winner for a " small spaces" exhibit. And you can trade up your old threads for cash at the Crossroads Trading Company. 

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