The City of Chicago’s official motto is “Urbs in Horto”- or “City in a Garden”. With Chicago’s largest park on beautiful Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park more than lives up to that phrase.
Lincoln Park’s tree-lined streets, historic brick row houses, cultural institutions, and excellent schools make the neighborhood one of the most prestigious and sought after in the City. A great location one mile from The Loop, the neighborhood is readily accessible via the CTA Red, Brown, and Purple Lines, and by Lake Shore Drive and the Kennedy Expressway.
When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, what is now Lincoln Park was just north of its borders. The city did, however, own much of the land north of its boundary, with a plan for a park along the lake. The neighborhood took its name from this parkland, originally called Lake Park, and renamed in 1865 in honor of the assassinated president. At this early stage, the park would be unrecognizable to modern park-goers; the land then was a desolate patch of sand dunes, ponds, and shifting shorelines. After decades of significant work, the look of the park began to take its modern form, featuring abundant greenery, fountains, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and Lake Shore Drive.
The Lincoln Park neighborhood was annexed to Chicago in 1889. Residents in these early years ranged from affluent residents near the park and downtown, farmers and shopkeepers near North Avenue, and industrial workers along the Chicago River. As the City grew through the early 20th century, Lincoln Park grew in population and importance, becoming host to some of Chicago’s major institutions, including the Chicago Academy of Sciences (today the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum), the Chicago Historical Society, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Depaul College, founded as St. Vincent College, was established in 1898.
During the Great Depression, like much of the city, Lincoln Park fell into disrepair even becoming a hotbed of mob activity. In 1934, “America’s Bank Robber”, John Dillinger, made his last stand on Lincoln Avenue at Biograph Theater. Only with the foundation of the Lincoln Park Conservation Association and the influx of urban renewal funds in the 1950s was the neighborhood able to restore old buildings and schools. Unlike in Hyde Park, wholesale clearance of buildings was avoided, conserving much of the neighborhood’s old-school charm. It was in these years that the many of the high-rise developments along the lake were built.
These urban renewal efforts have been a major success. From the 1980s until present day, land and property values in the neighborhood have increased precipitously. Young professionals and families were drawn to the area in large numbers, attracted by the excellent location and schools. Since the start of the new century, Lincoln Park has become one of the highest-status neighborhoods in the city. Notable residents of Lincoln Park have included comedian John Mulaney, chef Charlie Trotter, Chicago Blackhawk Jonathan Toews, and film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
Even though with Lincoln Park’s central location and great public transportation puts all of Chicago’s within reach, residents seeking a good time don’t have to leave their own backyard. Lincoln Park’s shopping, dining, and entertainment are truly some of the best in the city. Armitage Avenue is the neighborhood’s main shopping corridor, featuring independent boutiques and high-end retailers. Clark Street is lined with coffee shops, brunch restaurants, ethnic eateries. Scattered throughout the neighborhood are boutiques, bookstores, record shops, and much more.
Lincoln Park is known across the city for its upscale dining. Alinea, honored with three Michelin Stars and three times named “Best Restaurant In America” anchors the scene. Other neighborhood classics include RJ Grunts, the birthplace of the Lettuce Entertain You empire, and luxury chocolatiers Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Not only host to fine dining, the neighborhood hosts sports bars, college dives along Lincoln Ave, and long-time institutions like Stanley’s, Geja’s Cafe, and Twin Anchors. One of Chicago’s great, if controversial, hot-dog stands is Weiner’s Circle, where customers and employees are known to throw insults back and forth. Pequod’s Pizza offers one of, if not the best, deep-dish pies in Chicago.
The area has no shortage of nightlife, with many bars, clubs, and music venues. Blues fans will get their fill at classics like Kingston Mines and Blues Bar. Lincoln Hall hosts touring rock and indie bands. The Park West, a renovated 1920s theater, is a great place to catch touring comedy and music acts. The neighborhood also has a world-class theater scene, including the Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens Biograph, and Apollo Theaters.
Lincoln Park residents are truly spoiled by the neighborhood’s eponymous park. Chicago’s largest public park, Lincoln Park, is a sprawling 1200 plus acres of green spaces, with lovely harbors and some of Chicago’s finest beaches. Throughout the park, beautiful Lake Michigan and the stunning Chicago skyline provide an ideal backdrop. The neighborhood also hosts one of Chicago’s most unique parks, the Wizard of Oz themed Oz Park, celebrating author (and Chicagoan) Lyman Frank Baum. Oz-themed features include “Dorothy’s Playground”, the “Emerald Garden”, and huge Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion sculptures. Lincoln Park also has smaller parks and playgrounds, including Jonquil and Wrightwood Parks.
In the summer, Lincoln Park is home to a large number of festivals, including the Lincoln Park Wine Fest, The Chicago Hot-Dog Fest, and the renowned Air and Water Show. On the Fourth of July, residents come from across the City to watch the Chicago fireworks!
Fueling the attractiveness of the area to young families are the neighborhood’s excellent schools. Strong elementary and middle schools feed into Lincoln Park High School, consistently rated one of the best schools in the Chicago Public School system. Private options include Francis Parker School, an excellent K-12 school. Depaul University, which attracts students from across the country, is another point of pride.
The area offers a variety of housing options. Smaller townhomes and condominiums offer an affordable entry into the neighborhood. Vintage brownstones and high-rises condominiums with lake views make up the high end of the market. With its incredible location near the Lake and the Loop, excellent shopping and dining, and top schools, it is no surprise that the Lincoln Park is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in all of Chicago!