During the 1820s, Lincoln Park was nothing more than long stretches of grassland and a U.S. Army outpost. By the 1830s, with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, swarms of German and Polish immigrants arrived to make a living as farmers. As transportation methods improved, more folks moved to the area.
Then came the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 leaving much of Lincoln Park in a pile of ashes. A huge increase in construction drove working class folks back to the area during the years after the fire with many of the buildings that exist today being built between the periods of 1880 and 1904.
Nowadays, Lincoln Park is a haven of brownstones and row houses, trendy boutique shops, a huge bar scene, and great restaurants all encased in a family neighborhood atmosphere that make it one of Chicago’s favorite destinations for both living and living it up.
Located on the North Side, Lincoln Park was named after the actual park that borders Lake Michigan. The neighborhood’s boundaries are North Avenue on the south, Diversey Parkway on the north and from Lake Michigan to the Chicago River. A cluster of sub-neighborhoods including Old Town Triangle, Park West and Clybourne Corridor attach themselves to Lincoln Park like pilot fish congregating around a great white shark.
Things to do
In this beloved area of the city, you’d be hard-pressed to battle boredom as the Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N Clark St, 312-742-2000), Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N Cannon Dr, 773-755-5100) and, of course, the actual Lincoln Park (2045 N Lincoln Park W, 312-742-7726) offers plenty of sightseeing highlights for both residents and tourists.
Gather with John Dillinger acolytes outside the Biograph Theater – now Victory Gardens Theater (2433 N Lincoln Ave, 773-871-3000) – to honor the bank robber’s memory or just catch a play inside of the famous theater. And don’t miss out on seeing a production at the Steppenwolf Theater (1650 N Halsted St, 312-338-1650) where cutting edge playwrights and actors take on material both classic and original.
Become a true Chicago icon by literally turning yourself into a Chicago-style hot dog (minus the ketchup of course) while taking in the great exhibits at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N Clark St, 312-642-4600). Though the hot dog showcase is for kids, we won’t tell anyone you relished in the afterglow of being a frankfurter. Check out the large assortment of murals, stained glass, and sculptures at the Elks National Veterans Memorial (2750 N Lakeview Ave, 773-248-0649) or find out how open heart surgery was performed circa 2000 B.C. and beyond at the International Museum of Surgical Science (1524 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-642-6502). Get a belly full of laughs and catch tomorrow’s comedy stars at the legendary Second City (1616 N Wells St, 312-337-3992) after spending a day enjoying the sun and scenery at North Avenue Beach (1600 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-742-5121).
If garden-grown fruits and veggies are you thing, head over to Chicago’s Green City Market (2732 N Clark St, 773-880-1266) during the summer months to make your entire Jewel bought produce green with envy. The Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival (Fullerton & Racine) showcases more than 80 artists, any day of the week to hang out with some polar bears, giraffes, and sloths.
Dining & Nightlife
The nightlife in Lincoln Park is what every other city wishes there nightlife could be. From the row of bars along Clark Street to the great blues clubs, there is a perfect spot for everyone. The Wrightwood Tap (1059 W Wrightwood Ave, 773-549-4949) is a favorite watering hole for locals to catch a game while the Kingston Mines (2548 N Halsted St, 773-477-4646) and B.L.U.E.S. (2519 N Halsted St, 773-528-1012) will give you an authentic taste of Chicago’s musical genre of choice. Gain some street cred while trying out the huge whiskey selection at Delilah’s (2771 N Lincoln Ave, 773-472-2771) or join in on the festivities at John Barleycorn (658 W Belden Ave, 773-348-8899).
Lincoln Park has plenty of dining options for even the most discerning tastes. The Athenian Room (807 W Webster Ave, 773-348-5155) serves up authentic Greek and Mediterranean dishes while RJ Grunts (2056 N Lincoln Park W, 773-929-5363) will leave no patrons grunting after tasting their burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. Alinea (1723 N Halsted St, 312-867-0110) perfectly mingles creativity and food resulting in a truly unique culinary experience while Urban Vegan (1550 W Fullerton Ave, 773-472-8208) will make even the most hardcore meat lover ask for seconds.
Lincoln Park provides plenty of shopping choices from trendy boutiques to brand name stores. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, The Alley (3228 N Clark St, 773-883-1800), Taboo Tabou (854 W Belmont Ave, 773-883-1400), and an assortment of other counter culture storefronts along Clark Street near Belmont provide everything from leather jackets and gargoyles to tattoos and nose rings.
Great taste and small budgets are welcomed at McShane’s Exchange (815 W Armitage Ave, 773-525-0282) where hidden treasures await at this two-story consignment shop. Lush (859 W Armitage Ave, 773-281-5874) provides natural skin care and cosmetics while Glazed Expressions (717 W Armintage Ave, 312-867-1792) lets you personalize pottery by designing a vase or bowl yourself.
When it comes time to buy toys for the kids or the kid at heart, Rotofugi Designer Toy Store & Gallery (2780 N Lincoln Ave, 773-868-3308) has you covered with the widest assortment of toys under one roof in the city.
Places to Stay
Lincoln Park Guest House (2319 N Halsted St, 312-751-2202) next to DePaul University has welcoming rooms featuring a two-story cathedral ceiling in their private guest suites. Hotel Lincoln (1816 N Clark St, 312-254-4700), where Al Capone and David Mamet caught Z’s, was completely renovated in 2012 and provides a great place to stay with an awesome rooftop bar. Villa D’ Citta (2230 N Halsted St, 312-771-0696) is an updated B&B perfect for lounging around after a day of exploring Lincoln Park.