Chicago, IL Neighborhood guides

Wicker Park: Chicago’s Hipster Paradise

Located a short drive northwest from Chicago’s downtown Loop, Wicker Park has become the city’s hipster paradise. While the area is mainly residential, it’s become known for its restaurants, nightlife and shopping, which attract trendy twenty- and thirty-somethings from around the city. This neighborhood is the perfect choice if you want to be on the pulse of everything trendy in Chicago.

Where is Wicker Park?

The official boundaries of Wicker Park are Division Street to the south, Ashland Avenue to the east, Western Avenue to the west and the 606 bike trail to the north. Some areas to the south and west of these official boundaries are sometimes considered to be part of Wicker Park. The neighborhood is centered around its namesake park, and Milwaukee Avenue serves as the area’s central thoroughfare. Wicker Park is south of the Bucktown neighborhood, east of Humbolt Park and north of West Town.

History

In the mid-19th century, the city of Chicago decided to build a park near Milwaukee Avenue, which remains today as Wicker Park. Many people decided to move near the park after the Great Chicago Fire, which had destroyed many neighborhoods closer to downtown. Many wealthy immigrants from Germany and Norway moved to this area and decided to build mansions around the park. Polish immigrants moved to the area in the early 20th century, and many aspects of Polish culture remain today in Wicker Park and nearby West Town.

Many low-income residents started moving to Wicker Park in the 1950s. Highway construction had displaced residents in many other parts of the city, and the dynamic of the neighborhood started to change. By the 1970s, Wicker Park started to struggle with crime and many properties were abandoned. However, developers were quickly able to transform these properties into affordable housing, which was particularly appealing to artists. As artists moved in, the city began to gentrify. Since then, a variety of new homes have been built in Wicker Park, but there are plenty of historic buildings that have been preserved as well.

Lifestyle

Wicker Park is a great place for creatives and young professionals to thrive. It is a lively community with fun events happening year-round. Here you’ll find high-end shopping and restaurants mixed with more affordable local gems.

What To Do

One of the best things to do in Wicker Park is enjoy the local shopping. The stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Damen and Ashland is an ideal place for some retail therapy. Many popular clothing brands like Levi’s, Adidas and Urban Outfitters have outposts in the area, but you’ll also find plenty of local thrift shops.

Moving to Wicker Park

For book lovers, Myopic Books and Volumes Bookcafé both have an excellent selection, while Reckless Records is a great place to satisfy your music needs. Wicker Park has also continued its tradition as a haven for artists, and there are plenty of art galleries that line the streets here.

 

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Additionally, Wicker Park is known for its nightlife. In addition to a wide selection of bars and restaurants, you’ll find plenty of live music venues like Subterranean and the Den Theater. Many smaller local bars also host shows on the weekends.

Finally, Wicker Park has plenty of places where you can spend time outside. The neighborhood’s namesake park has been preserved and hosts sports games and a local farmer’s market on the weekends.

The 606 Trail also serves as the northern border of the neighborhood and is an excellent place to go running or biking. This trail was created from an old railway line and has since become a very popular place to spend time outdoors.

Where To Eat And Drink

There’s no shortage of excellent places to eat and drink in Wicker Park. Restaurants here offer a huge mix of cuisines and price points, so there’s plenty of options for everyone. The neighborhood is home to trendy restaurants like Amaru, Mama Delia, The Delta, Pub Royale and Mott St.

 

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Spots like Parlor Pizza, Big Star, and and Ina Mae’s offer delicious comfort food in a more relaxed atmosphere.

 

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Wicker Park is also an excellent destination for cocktail lovers. Renowned speakeasy The Violet Hour is located here, and the Robey Hotel also serves craft cocktails with a view on their beautiful rooftop bar. Beer lovers will enjoy Nick’s Beer Garden, and those looking for a classic Chicago dive won’t want to miss the Rainbo Club.

 

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Moving To Wicker Park

Real Estate Snapshot

Apartments for rent in Wicker Park are more expensive than those in Chicago. The average rent for an apartment in Wicker Park is $2,261 per month, while the average rent for Chicago as a whole is $1,908 per month. As a result, the cost of living as a whole is slightly higher in Wicker Park as well.

Transportation

One of the reasons why Wicker Park is such an appealing neighborhood for young professionals is that it is very easy to get around. For those who have a car, I-90 is very accessible, providing a quick 20 minute trip to downtown. However, you don’t need a car to get around in Wicker Park, as the Blue line L train has two stops in the neighborhood. From the Damen stop, this train makes a quick 20 minute trip into the Loop, where you can connect with other trains in the system. The Blue line also provides connections to other neighborhoods like Logan Square and Avondale, as well as to O’Hare International Airport.

Schools & Employment

There are four schools within Wicker Park’s boundaries for elementary and middle school children. These include a performing arts magnet school and a dual language magnet school. While there aren’t any large corporations headquartered here, a thriving retail and restaurant industry provides plenty of job opportunities.

Looking to move to Wicker Park? Be sure to check out RENTCafé for all of the latest apartment listings in the area.

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About the author

Florentina Sarac

Florentina Sarac is a creative writer, editor, and researcher for RENTCafé. She covers a variety of topics, from real estate trends, demographic shifts, housing industry news and multifamily construction to homeownership, smart-home technology, personal finance and business. With a 9-year background in the real estate industry, Florentina has also penned articles for publications such as Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and the National Apartment Association Magazine. You can connect with Florentina via email.

Florentina’s work and expertise have been featured in several major U.S. and international publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bisnow, The Mercury News, Curbed, The NY Post, CBS News, Business Insider and Realtor.com. She holds a B.A. in English and Spanish, as well as an M.A. in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication, which serve as a testament to her love of literature and language.

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