Uptown Chicago: A Vibrant and Historic Neighborhood
Uptown, one of 77 community areas in Chicago, is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood with a rich history and unique character. This sprawling neighborhood is home to several distinct areas, each with its own charm and appeal. From the bustling streets of Asia on Argyle to the historic mansions of Buena Park, Uptown offers something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the different neighborhoods within Uptown, highlighting their history, landmarks, and attractions.
Asia on Argyle: A Cultural Melting Pot
The blocks around the Argyle “L” station form a distinct district within Uptown known as Asia on Argyle. This area has a fascinating history, once being a Jewish community and later transformed by Chinese entrepreneurs and refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia. Today, Asian-American entrepreneurs continue to be drawn to this neighborhood, opening restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, and social service agencies.
One of the highlights of Asia on Argyle is the Argyle Night Market, a street festival that takes place every Thursday evening in July and August. This vibrant event attracts more than 40,000 attendees annually and showcases the diverse culture and cuisines of the neighborhood. The shared-street design of the area allows businesses to open sidewalk cafes, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere.
Buena Park: Historic Charm and Natural Beauty
Tucked between Lake Michigan and Graceland Cemetery, Buena Park is a nationally recognized historic district known for its tree-lined blocks and Prairie-style mansions. Founded in the 1860s as a retreat from urban life, Buena Park took on its current character in the 1930s with the construction of the “L” train. Despite the addition of high-rise buildings, the neighborhood has retained much of its historic charm.
One of the main attractions in Buena Park is Montrose Beach and Harbor, a popular destination for Chicagoans. The beach offers amenities such as food concessions, kayak and volleyball rentals, and even a dog-friendly area. Montrose Beach is also home to the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, where birdwatchers can spot over 340 species. The neighborhood’s close proximity to the lake and its natural beauty make it a desirable place to live and visit.
Margate Park, Lakeside, Clarendon Park, and the Lakefront
Facing Lake Michigan, the Margate, Lakeside, and Clarendon Park area offers a plethora of lakefront amenities and a mix of residential high-rises and historic buildings. Montrose Beach and Harbor are the main attractions in this area, drawing thousands of visitors during the warm months. Montrose Beach features facilities such as showers, restrooms, and an ADA-accessible beach walk. Birdwatchers flock to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary to observe a wide variety of bird species.
The Clarendon Park Fieldhouse is another notable feature of this area. It is home to the Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad Club, which boasts an impressive model railroad with over 1,400 feet of hand-laid track. The fieldhouse also hosts Kuumba Lynx, an urban art youth development organization that uses hip hop as a tool for social change.
Sheridan Park: Historic Homes and Community Life
Sheridan Park, centered along Wilson Avenue west of Broadway, is known for its historic homes and vibrant community life. This neighborhood is adjacent to Truman College, a two-year city college, and hosts large-scale events such as Chicago’s Pride Parade and Windy City RibFest.
The Sheridan Park Historic District was established in 1985 to protect the unique architecture of the area, including single-family homes and smaller multi-family buildings. Many of the homes and apartment buildings along Dover Street date back to the early 1900s. In 2007, Dover Street was designated as a city landmark district, further preserving the neighborhood’s historic charm.
Uptown Square: The Entertainment Hub
Uptown Square, located at the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence, has a long and colorful history as an entertainment destination. Today, it continues to be a thriving hub of entertainment, with venues such as the Aragon Ballroom, Riviera Theater, Uptown Underground, and Uptown Lounge drawing large audiences year-round.
The Aragon Ballroom, a historic music venue, has hosted famous jazz groups and continues to attract renowned musicians. The Riviera Theater, once a Jazz Age movie palace, now serves as a concert venue. The Green Mill, one of the nation’s premier jazz clubs, remains a beloved institution in the area. Uptown Square’s vibrant entertainment scene is further reinforced by recent developments and new businesses, solidifying its status as a regional entertainment destination.
Andersonville & East Ravenswood: Swedish Heritage and Local Charm
Andersonville, known for its Swedish heritage, extends into Uptown as the blocks along Clark Street south of Foster Avenue. This commercial corridor is home to a concentration of locally-owned restaurants and shops, reflecting the neighborhood’s unique character.
Uptown’s western-most district is primarily a residential community, with vintage homes and apartment buildings dotting the landscape. Ravenswood Avenue is home to some industrial activity, while Clark Street offers an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and the renowned Black Ensemble Theater. Lawrence Avenue and Montrose Avenue also have clusters of local businesses, particularly near the Montrose “L” station and Ravenswood Metra station.
Uptown Chicago is a neighborhood that truly has it all. From the cultural melting pot of Asia on Argyle to the historic charm of Buena Park, the lakefront amenities of Margate Park, and the vibrant entertainment scene of Uptown Square, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, Uptown offers a unique blend of history, culture, and community that sets it apart from other neighborhoods in Chicago. Explore the diverse neighborhoods of Uptown and discover the hidden gems that make this area so special.