West Town Description
On Chicago's Northwest side and bounded by Bloomingdale Avenue on the north, Kinzie Street on the south, the Chicago River to the east, and Kedzie Street to the west, West Town offers a blend of youthful, creative energy. Its high concentration of distinctive galleries, independent theater companies, quirky local boutiques, music venues, intimate coffee shops, bars, and Michelin Guide-recommended restaurants make for one of Chicago's hippest districts. West Town certainly has a leg up in that category, considering it's actually comprised of a number of smaller, equally vibrant and distinct neighborhoods: Wicker Park, East Village, Ukrainian Village, Eckhart Park, Humboldt Park, Noble Square, Smith Park, and Division Street. The history of each area blends with the overarching youthful and artistic scene to make this community sing.
West Town's history is the story of settlers who were drawn to the area in the 1840s to work on laying new railway tracks or to begin positions in factories near the Chicago River. Since then, the area's different neighborhoods have attracted German, Scandinavian, Polish, Jewish, Italian, and Ukrainian communities; in fact, the last on that list has seen its heritage widely preserved in West Town through numerous churches, museums, and the Ukrainian Village.
While the mid-to-late 1900s saw a number of Latino and Puerto Rican families move into the neighborhood, their numbers have gone down somewhat as younger artistic communities and students have taken up residence in West Town. Property values for the neighborhood are on the rise, and it's no wonder considering the recent influx of shops, restaurants, and theaters, along with the diminution of the gang-related issues that troubled the area in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, Forbes named West Town's Wicker Park the fourth “hippest hipster neighborhood” in the U.S. in 2012. The rise of construction on new condos and single-family homes signals a widespread recognition in Chicago of that sought-after reputation.
West Town is brimming with landmarks, including many Ukrainian-themed museums and churches. Celebrating its Eastern European roots, West Town features the Ukrainian National Museum, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Saint Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, Saint George Cathedral, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, and the Polish Museum of America. If that's not a long-enough list, the neighborhood's summer festivals might just offer a rival one. The community overflows with festivals in the warmer months like Do Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale, which features local retailers and artisans, as well as the Renegade Craft Fair and West Fest Chicago. The Division Street Russian and Turkish Baths also serve as a relaxing West Town landmark.
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