Family-centered, diverse, professional, hip, quaint, and fun: all describe Chicago's well-loved neighborhood on the north side, Old Town. Step through Old Town's scrolling entryway signs and you're in for a walk amongst Chicago's largest concentration of Victorian-era buildings. Visitors may also enjoy hitting up Wells Street for some shopping, picking up treats like homemade fudge, specialty olive oils, and even top-of-the-line cigars all in one outing. It's never a bad idea to save one's appetite for some after-dinner comedy, though, considering that Chicago's famed Second City calls Old Town home. Historic Bavarian churches, a gastropub with over 90 brews on tap, bustling restaurants, theatres, pubs, and other cultural delights complete Old Town's blend of tradition and modern-day style.
Old Town's early German immigrants developed the area's originally swampy farmland throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, Old Town is one of the few Chicago neighborhoods to survive the Great Fire somewhat intact, and so the contributions of early settlers can still be felt in the district's many Victorian-era buildings, including the Bavarian St. Michael's Church. Likewise, Old Town's pedestrian-friendly streets are in large part still laid out just as they were before the fire, as is the area's Old Town Triangle District. Fast forward a few years, however, and Old Town had certainly caught up with modernity, becoming a home to LGBT rights, folk music, and hippie culture by the 1960s.
Families, professionals, hippies, artistic, and affluent individuals all call Old Town home. Its blend of tradition and modernity mean that there's something in this neighborhood for everyone. It's not uncommon to come across a group of college students huddled in a neighborhood cafe or on their way to audition at one of Old Town's venerable theatres, nor is it an unexpected sight to come across families picnicking in the park or businesspeople heading towards the nearby Loop.
Old Town's landmarks read like a Chicago culture-map, from the area's theatres — think Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre — to museums like the Chicago History Museum. Residents and visitors enjoy soaking in the architecture of the Saint Michael Roman Catholic Church or participating in the Old Town Arts Fair in the summer — an outdoor festival featuring over 250 artists. Chicago's Old Town School of Music also got its start in the neighborhood, although it has since moved.
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