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Old Town is a historic district located in Chicago’s North Side. It is home to many of Chicago’s older, Victorian-era buildings, one of which is St. Michael’s Church. It was originally a Bavarian-built church and it is one of the seven buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire. Many of the streets and alleys, particularly in the Old Town Triangle section, predate the Great Chicago Fire and do not all adhere to a typical Chicago grid pattern.
The neighborhood has seen its fair share of change over the years. It was first settled by Germans in the 1800s. German immigrants moved to the meadows north of North Avenue and began farming what had previously been swampland, planting celery, potatoes, and cabbages. The neighborhood then gained the nickname “The Cabbage Patch.” The name stuck around until the early 1900s. The area was later seen as a port of entry for Puerto Ricans. Many of these families that had originally lived in the neighborhood in the 1950 and 60s, began migrating to the suburbs or other parts of the city. Eventually, the area was renamed North Town but people also referred to the area as Old Town in names such as the Old Town Triangle Association (Clark Street to the east being a diagonal street forming part of the triangle) and soon Old Town became the official name. Rents began to plummet and storefronts became vacant for a cheap price. The area around North and Wells became a popular spot for hippies. With so many music clubs, Old Town became the center of Chicago’s folk music scene. A little further north, you can find one of the area’s main institutions, the Old Town School of Folk Music, which was first moved to Lincoln Park, and then expanded again and went even further north to Lincoln Square. Today, Old Town is one of the most popular neighborhoods, in terms of living, shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Old Town contains three schools. Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center is among one of the highest rated schools. The public schools in Old Town are part of The City of Chicago School District 299.
Shopping in Old Town is definitely a unique experience. The majority of shops in this neighborhood are boutiques rather than well-known chain stores. Therefore, each and every store is cozy, intimate and filled with one-of-a-kind goods. There are plenty of great dining options to check out. If you’re looking to have a classic pizza pie, check out Happy Camper. This restaurant is 21+ and offers unique brews and cocktails. If you’re looking for some good Mexican food, Broken English serves a wide assortment of Mexican tastings, tacos, and margaritas. For a sweet treat, check out Jeni’s Ice Cream. They have so many unique and delicious flavors to explore and they even have dairy free options. For a cool nightspot, go to The Vig. It is a 1950’s themed sports parlor. Benchmark is another vibrant sports bar with a wide assortment of bar bites and drinks. Are you a beer lover? Head over to Old Town Pour House! They have over 90 American craft beers on tap.
10 minutes to Chicago Loop | 25 minutes to O’Hare Airport | 25 minutes to Midway Airport
Distance to Downtown
Old Town’s boundaries are Clark Street on the east, Division Street on the south, Larrabee Street on the west, and North Avenue on the north. The Old Town Triangle starts north of North Avenue and is formed by connecting the points of Sedgwick Street on the west, Armitage Avenue on the north and Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street on the east. The CTA Red Line runs on the outskirts of Old Town with stops at North/Clybourn and Clark/Division. The CTA Brown Line runs directly through Old Town stopping at Sedgwick.
Old Town is filled with plenty of pubs, restaurants, shops, and boutiques to check out. You’ll also find plenty of nightlife, including several theaters and comedy clubs, such as the Second City Comedy Club, which launched the improv style of comedy as seen on Saturday Night Live and SCTV and also launched the careers of numerous comedians such as Bill Murray, John Belushi, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, and Keegan-Michael Key, just to name a few.