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 wanting to live near Lincoln Park, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 satisfy your needs. 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. Looking for something New American? Then head to The Bristol — they offer a delightful hybrid of classic and contemporary delights which are inspired by the Chicago area, but based on the timeless techniques of French cuisine.
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This wouldn’t be a Chicago neighborhood guide if we didn’t include a fantastic deep-dish pizza place. My Pi Pizza is a family-owned restaurant that will make you feel right at home. The recipe for this local gem’s delicious pizza has been perfected since the 1950s and is made with a special (and secret) San Marzano tomato sauce, rich, locally-produced cheeses and, most importantly, a genuine passion for cooking.
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For the perfect meal out with your family, head over to The Royal Grocer & Co. This local gem provides the perfect ambiance and selection of dishes for a lovely brunch or a relaxed dinner. Their creative, yet friendly menu will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, while the top-quality ingredients are sourced through partnerships with local farms and artizans.
If you’re in the mood to get cooking at home instead, Olivia’s is a fantastic shop in the heart of Bucktown which takes its inspiration from the specialty food stores and corner groceries of New York City.
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!
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.
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 $1,988—just slightly above the Chicago average ($1,943).
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.
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. Live here and you’ll be within walking distance of much of what Bucktown has to offer!
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!
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!