Chicago Relocation

Wicker Park – A Grown-Up Hipster

March 10, 2014

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

As mentioned earlier, it’s really hard to separate Wicker Park from Bucktown. It’s not as easy as “north or south of North Ave.” But I’m giving it a go…..

Originally Wicker Park was a northern European enclave – Germans, Scandinavians and later Poles (hence the remaining Zimne Piwo signs under that Old Style beer light on so many neighborhood joints). Believe it or not, the provisional Polish government had their meetings in WP during the Great War.

People lament that Wicker Park has changed.  That it’s not as cool and hip as it was “back in the day.” I’ll admit, as a relocation counselor 20 years ago I did describe it as a cool, hip, up and coming, “gentrifying” artist community. It still is – it’s just way more gentrified!  Neighborhoods change and evolve and get reborn like a Phoenix all the time. Wicker Park (and Bucktown) are now “mature” neighborhoods and great places to live.

Being closer to the Loop,Wicker Park’s commute is a little easier than Bucktown. Really, Wicker Park’s an easy place to live without a car.  Housing wise, there’s better values than their eastern neighbor (Lincoln Park, Near North) primarily based on the proximity to the lake. Lots of lofts in this community, both classic (reclaimed from the manufacturing world) and those created specifically for residential use. Search some here.

What should you check out? Don’t miss the world famous Double Door, where the Stones played their “secret” concert back in ‘97 (Mick wasn’t even 60 yet!). It’s located at the famous six corners of North/Milwaukee/Damen (where WP and BT meet). Hear rock, punk, funk, you name it! For something different, but still a very cool experience, walk around the corner to Subterranean. If you want a true Indie Chicago music experience, go a little south to Empty Bottle. I know, I know that’s not officially Wicker Park.  Please forgive me Ukrainian Hipsters.

Each summer the Wicker Park Fest (usually in July) is an explosion of music, food, beer and crafts. The Trib named it best fest last year. Like most neighborhood fests these days, they’re “free” with “a $5 donation.” Which I think is really funny.

For an on-film glimpse at Wicker Park, watch High Fidelity” with our own John Cusak.

For some food, check out the incredibly hip Bongo Room with a great brunch and fantastic joe. There’s a bit of a dual for favorite pizza joint in Wicker Park (don’t forget, I’m an Aurleio’s guy so I’m not voting). If you like New Haven style pizza with some great micro brews, check out Piece.

There also Roots.  Their pizza is really good, but their “build your own salad” is KILLER – 50 choices. Go for some goat cheese with pistachios, and avocado cream…