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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.