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Living in Bucktown, Chicago – One of the City’s Trendiest Neighborhoods

Bucktown Chicago

Bucktown is one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods, located in the Logan Square community, just west of Chicago’s Lincoln Park and to the north of another popular neighborhood – Wicker Park.

Map of Bucktown in Chicago
Map of Bucktown

Because of its proximity to Lincoln Park, one of Chicago’s most attractive and most expensive neighborhoods, the more affordable Bucktown area became a logical alternative for those wishing to be in Lincoln Park, near DePaul University, or simply close to Downtown. This is evidenced in the concentration of Gen-X’ers and Millennials who have gravitated to the area – giving Bucktown a young and hip profile distinctive from its neighbor to the immediate east.

Location

The neighborhood of Bucktown forms the eastern-most boundary of the Logan Square community, and is defined by the North Branch of the Chicago River to its east, Bloomingdale Avenue to the south, Diversey Parkway to its north, and Western Avenue to its west.

In addition, the Kennedy Expressway (I-94) runs right through the middle of the neighborhood, thus giving residents easy access by car to the Chicagoland area and beyond. Though Damen Avenue is considered the main artery in Bucktown, there are a number of popular areas along Diversey Parkway, Fullerton, and Armitage Avenues (east-west) and Elston as well as a slice of Milwaukee Avenues (north-south). This gives the neighborhood numerous pockets for shopping, dining, and entertainment, all walking distance from wherever one resides. Add to this the Bloomington Trail – also popularly known as “The 606” – at the southern boundary, and you’ll find that you’ll never be without something to do, indoors or out.

Park 567 (Milwaukee and Leavitt) is the second of five new ground-level neighborhood parks to open as part of The 606. Image via The 606 Facebook page.
Park 567 (Milwaukee and Leavitt) is the second of five new ground-level neighborhood parks to open as part of The 606. Image via The 606 Facebook page.

History

What an unusual name for a neighborhood – Bucktown. Its origin is actually thought to go back nearly 200 years, even before Chicago was incorporated as a city. The area along the Chicago River to the east and what is now Milwaukee Avenue to the west was home to some of Chicago’s first Polish settlers who raised goats (the male known as a “buck”). In fact due to the heavy influx of Polish immigrants in the early 20th century, Bucktown was known as “Little Poland” and until well into the late 1900s the area was predominantly populated by those of Polish descent. Interestingly, Milwaukee Avenue is still to this day Chicago’s “Polish Corridor”, though more toward the northwest boundaries of the city and nearby suburbs along that street. By the 1970s Bucktown and its sister neighborhood to the south – Wicker Park – became havens for artists and musicians looking for affordable places to rent. Thus was born a real estate boom that has never looked back and has given both communities an eclectic mix of million dollar homes and inexpensive rental units.

Wicker Park Bucktown dividing line
Wicker Park/Bucktown dividing line. Image courtesy of Flickr user Jeffrey Zeldman.

Bucktown is home to approximately 18,000 residents (2010 census). Surprisingly, though it is close to downtown, it is below Chicago’s average community density – no doubt due to the fact that the neighborhood is characterized by many older low-rise buildings and single-family homes. What was once an immigrant community, then a somewhat seedy, Bohemian enclave, is now a much sought-after, upscale Chicago neighborhood.

Transportation

Located only a few miles from downtown, the commute to Chicago’s CBD is quick and with many options. Public transportation is extensive, given the easy access to both a number of bus lines; 76 Diversey, 74 Fullerton, and 73 Armitage are just a few – all of which connect to the CTA Red Line. There’s also the CTA Blue Line stop at Western, which connects you to downtown, the suburbs, and even O’Hare airport. The Kennedy Expressway is at your doorstep if you’re opting for travel by car and of course there are numerous bike lanes along all the major streets if you’re an avid cyclist. Then there’s the Metra stop at Clybourn Avenue that connects to downtown and the northern suburbs. Finally, with numerous DIVVY bike rental stations throughout the neighborhood, Bucktown is truly a neighborhood where a car is unnecessary.

Western Avenue in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood
Western Avenue in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood from the CTA Blue Line. Image courtesy of Flickr user Mareklug

Schools

A healthy mix of public, selective enrollment, and charter schools provides numerous options for families with children. Active participants in the local school councils have been successfully improving public schools, and there are charter schools that provide an alternative to district-run schools. Finally, a handful of private schools in the area give parents yet another possibility. These include six parochial schools, of which the highly noted Josephinum Academy (A Catholic college prep high school), the Pulaski International School of Chicago (an International Baccalaureate school) as well as a number of Montessori schools.

Public Safety

Though affected by crime, as any urban neighborhood will be, it’s the civic engagement of citizens through their CAP’s (Chicago Alternative Policing) beat meetings and numerous block club initiatives that insures that crime, when it occurs, is mitigated quickly. In addition, one major consideration when it comes to public safety in any urban area is the presence of citizens on the streets, which has been shown to reduce crime in some communities. Bucktown certainly has no shortage of that.

Shopping and Dining

If you love food – eating out or in – you’ll have no shortage of places in the area to patronize. If you like a wide selection of beers to go with your burger then Floyd’s is the place to go. Want a great French bistro, but not interested in flying to Paris? Well, Le Bouchon is for you. Something more American? Then try the gastronomic delights at The Bristol. If instead you want to curl up and cook at home, then the finest grocery store in the city is right across the river from Bucktown – Treasure Island Foods, or “TI” as the locals call it. And there’s Olivia’s in the heart of Bucktown – inspired by the specialty food stores and corner groceries of New York City.

Entertainment

Bucktown beckons you to experience urban living at its fullest. Love the Blues? Then Tuesdays at the Gallery Cabaret is where it’s at. Or if you have a more eclectic musical taste then head on over to The Hideout; and on the first Tuesday of every month there you can also flex your political muscles with award winning Chicago journalists Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke.

Live theater your style? Try the Trap Door Theater. Something a little more risqué? Then you can’t miss the Gorilla Tango Theater. And speaking of the arts, there’s the annual Bucktown Arts Fest each year. For over 30 years this neighborhood event has showcased artists who work in oil, watercolor, photography, textile, sculpture, jewelry and so much more for an entire weekend in late August.

Then for outdoors types there’s the newest of Chicago’s parks, called “The 606″, running for nearly 3 miles on an abandoned elevated rail line. It’s now a recreational trail as well as a spectacular green space. It all awaits you in Bucktown – great food, music, the arts, and a refreshing urban park!

Housing Stock

The Chicago Fire of 1871 fueled the steady growth of this immigrant laborer community. Soon after, those left homeless sought other housing in the area, with many Scandinavians and Germans building large mansions of brick and stone so as to avoid such a tragedy occurring again. Since the late 20th century the neighborhood’s architecture has become more eclectic, with converted industrial lofts, modernist mansions, and modest six-flats joining the stately 100-year-old brownstones and graystones.

Townhomes at 1624 North Claremont Avenue
Single-family homes and townhomes on North Claremont Avenue in Bucktown

As Bucktown entered the 21st century most of the new condo developments and townhouses have had a distinctly modern architecture. Although it is still possible to find a home in Bucktown for less than $500,000, more and more million-dollar homes are hitting the market, while average rents in Bucktown today are around $1,700—just slightly above the Chicago average ($1,685).

What You Can Rent in Bucktown

Although it has its fair share of expensive housing, Bucktown also offers a wide variety of reasonably-priced apartments, whether you appreciate vintage architecture or modern design. There’s certainly no shortage of rental homes, so you’ll have no problem finding one that suits your taste and budget.

1914 N. Damen

Located in the heart of Bucktown, along its primary shopping and entertainment corridor, these large units include great closet space, in-unit laundry, private elevator entry, two bathrooms, hardwood floors, private balconies and spacious closets. Also, with parking included in your rent, you can have it either way – drive or hop on the bus right outside your door. And yes, pets are allowed.

Damen Corridor 1914 N. Damen Apartments in Bucktown
Damen Corridor Apartments in Bucktown

1937 W. Armitage Ave

With two full ceramic tile bathrooms, central heating and A/C, and hardwood floors, not to mention a CTA bus stop at your front door, what’s not to like? Apartments in this classic 1912 apartment building include an in-unit washer/dryer and an updated kitchen. Rents at this pet-friendly community start at $1,600. Live here and you’ll be within walking distance of much of what Bucktown has to offer!

1937 W. Armitage Ave Apartments in Bucktown
1937 W. Armitage Ave Apartments

2056 N. Leavitt St.

Smack dab in the heart of Bucktown and only blocks from Holstein Park as well as the Armitage Avenue corridor, this apartment community offers a mix of 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units. The apartment homes feature beautiful hardwood floors and modern kitchens, central heat and A/C along with beautiful exposed brick walls. Bright and airy, this is one of the best locations in Bucktown!

2056 N. Leavitt St.Apartments in Bucktown
2056 N. Leavitt St.Apartments

What You Can Buy in Bucktown

2119 West Armitage Avenue – Condominium ($419,900)

This condo is situated in a beautiful vintage building on the exciting Armitage Avenue corridor where you’ll find shopping, bars, and dining, and where you’ll find the CTA bus right outside your door and the Kennedy Expressway moments away. With over 1,800 square feet of living space you’ll have plenty of light, space, and charm. Entertain at home with your separate formal living and dining rooms with their tall ceilings, original maple floors, large rear deck, and a wood burning fireplace. Your modern kitchen includes stainless appliances; there’s an in-unit laundry room, and a tandem (2 car) parking space is included!

Condo for sale at 2119 West Armitage Avenue in Bucktown Chicago
Condo for sale in Bucktown

2346 West Moffat Street – Single-Family Home ($900,000)

If modern living is more your style, check out this gorgeous, newly built residence at 2346 West Moffat Street, just steps from the 606 trail. This 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom contemporary abode comes with sleek finishes, bright interiors, and plenty of space. Everything you need to really live in style!

Home for sale at 2346 West MOFFAT Street in Bucktown
House for sale in Bucktown

Make Bucktown Your New Home

Great food, music, the arts, and a beautiful urban park await you! Come find your home here using www.rentcafe.com and you too can enjoy all that Bucktown has to offer!

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About the author

Ama Otet

Ama Otet is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves all things real estate and strives to live beautifully, one green step at a time. You can connect with Ama on Twitter or via email.

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