Despite the neighborhood’s name, Chicago’s Old Town has been receiving more attention than ever, and in recent years, and continues to see renewed vibrance year after year. While it first became a popular neighborhood in the 1960s and 70s when northern Chicago began its ongoing revitalization, the momentum and vast appeal to this charming neighborhood have only increased over the years.
For Chicagoans who desired a lively, walkable but low-density neighborhood, with
the right blend of charm and liveliness, Old Town was the natural fit. Its accessibility to public transportation, close proximity to Lake Michigan, shops, and the neighborhood’s exciting architecture gives it tremendous curb appeal.
Wells Street, in particular, serves as a large draw both to natives and newcomers alike, with lots of popular restaurants and bars, and community events, like its annual Street Art Festival, a nod to the post-World War II art shows that gave Old Town its name.
For the history buff, Old Town is special because it hosts one of the seven sole surviving buildings of the Great Chicago Fire, St. Michael’s Church. It serves as an active parish, but also allows visitors to come tour the sanctuary, as well. Yondorf Block and Hall, built in 1887, is almost twenty years younger than St. Michael’s, but still captures a period of time that now belongs solely in the past. Built in the Victorian-Gothic style, this building was originally a grocery store, but that changed after the Depression, switching back and forth between a wine store cellar and liquor shop to make ends meet. Today, the Yondorf Block and Hall serves as a rehearsal space for the Steppenwolf Theatre.
The Schmidt Mitzgerei building is also worth the look, as it gives the most accurate picture of what Old Town looked like when the neighborhood was primarily occupied by German immigrants. Back then, in the 1850s, Old Town was often called “The Cabbage Patch” because of all of the farmland surrounding the area – and, yes, there was plenty of cabbage.
For the art lover, there are the former artists’ colonies from the 1920s at Carl Street Studios, with each building and even some individual bricks displaying a unique design. And of course,
there’s the famed comedy club Second City, too, for any comedy fans. This comedy club has harvested some of the industry’s greatest talents like John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Chris Farley, to name a few of the greats.
With the resurgence, constant appeal of Old Town, luxury residences (like those offered by Urbane Home), premier shopping, new restaurants and bars continue to move
into the thriving neighborhood every year. The introduction of these more modern high-rise complexes is attracting a younger resident who may have opted for a different location in the past. Old Town offers a world of options for the most discerning Chicagoan, and residents and visitors alike are responding with extreme enthusiasm, to see its continued expansion.