City Stories

Chicago List: Neighborhoods

One of the biggest things about Chicago I’ve had to get used to is how spread out everything is. Manhattan is jam-packed; not an inch of that island goes unused, and there’s a train to get you to every corner of it.

While I lament the distance between my fantastic apartment and my even more amazing office, I’ve overlooked the myriad of neighborhoods between the two – and the more beyond that.

Technically, every one of the other lists I create will fall somewhere into the neighborhoods below. Starting from a macro level allows me to take it all in. A weekend spent in each and I imagine I’ll only have scratched the surface of what each has to offer.

Along the Brown Line – Every day, I ride the train roughly six miles into the heart of the city. In between, I watch roofs and tree tops zip by without a real idea of what’s going on below. I’ve ridden a Divvy home from work a couple times; each time I take a slightly different route, and each time I come across some charming corner or hidden neighborhood and think, “I need to get back here.” So now I think I will.

Wicker Park / Bucktown – I started looking for apartments in this neighborhood because everyone I spoke to said it’s “the Williamsburg of Chicago.” I’m pretty sure none of those people have ever been to Williamsburg. Nevertheless, this neighborhood has it going on, far as I can tell, and I could see losing a Saturday afternoon among the shops and restaurants and cafes.

Little Italy / Chinatown – Like their NYC other (better?) halves, I doubt either of these neighborhoods will be regular hangouts for me, but I’d be game to find a favorite dinner spot in each. Throw in some stellar people-watching, and these cultural centers are worth a visit.

Hyde Park – I’m still learning about this southside neighborhood (I really only know it for the Museum of Science and Industry) but it sounds like a haven of parks, mansions and Chicago history. Between Robie House (expect more than a little FLW on these lists), Promontory Point, and University of Chicago’s campus, I see many future Instagrams in this neighborhood.

Lincoln Park – Is there a neighborhood that’s more quintessentially Chicago? The tree-lined streets, the brick facades, the boutiques and cafes – it’s got it all. I may not be able to afford to live there, but I sure can visit and dream of the brownstone I’d like to make my own one day.

Pullman Historic District – There was a day Chicago was known as much for the train cars that originated here as its sports teams and corrupt politicians. Now, the Pullman district is a destination for days gone by; historic buildings, public art, classic Chicago stories  – it’s like something out of an Erik Larsen novel.

Chicagoans, what neighborhoods would you add to this list?

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