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October's Neighborhood Spotlight - Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s most noted, most popular, priciest and most sought after neighborhoods. The boundaries are precisely defined in the city’s list of official community areas as Diversey south to North Avenue, and the Chicago River east to Lake Michigan. Those of us who live in Chicago know just how big Lincoln Park can feel sometimes, inching itself into Lakeview or Old Town – or confusing us with the area near Wicker Park on the west. Area names like LakePark or Lincolnview come out at the boundaries of the two neighborhoods where the crossover isn’t a big deal to the residents in those locations. Lincoln Park has been widely-recognized as one of the most attractive, vibrant, culturally rich and architecturally-interesting neighborhoods in America. And with more bars and restaurants per capita than almost any other neighborhood in Chicago, Lincoln Park is the heart of Chicago’s North Side. Often referred to as ‘Chicago’s Central Park’, the views from certain areas of Lincoln Park toward the city resemble the iconic views of Central Park in NY.
The area now known as Lincoln Park in Chicago was primarily forest with stretches of grassland and occasional quicksand until the late 1820s when the Europeans arrived.
‘The Park’, in Lincoln Park, is a huge draw to those wanting to live here. It’s one of the greatest urban parks in the country. This 1208 acre park sits along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront, stretching 7 miles from Ohio Street all the way north to Edgewater. Clearly it is Chicago’s largest park, and the most prominent. Outside of the beautiful park itself, the lakefront beaches and the massive amounts of green space, there are also many different recreational facilities; 15 baseball areas, 6 basketball courts, softball fields, soccer fields, 35 tennis courts, 163 volleyball courts, field houses, a target archery field, a driving range, a golf course and a number of harbors with boating facilities (Wikipedia).
Lincoln Park is immersed in Chicago History. There is a fenced-off mausoleum, The Couch Mausoleum, behind the Historical Society that stands as a reminder that Lincoln Park once served as a city cemetery. In fact, Lincoln Park was originally named Cemetery Park. In the early 1800’s, the now park area was the public cemetery where victims of cholera and small pox were buried in shallow lakeside graves. Aware of the public health threat, the citizens began demanding the cemetery’s conversion to parkland in the 1850’s and then shortly after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the park was renamed in his honor. Many residents then contended for the removal of the remaining burial ground. This contributed to a larger parks movement and in 1869, the Illinois state legislature created three park districts: the South, West, and Lincoln Park Commissions; each of which was then responsible for the parks and boulevards in its respective region. Under the direction of the Lincoln Park Commission, bodies were exhumed (yuck) and relocated to other cemeteries, and the park was then expanded north to Diversey and south to North Avenue.
Another historic event important to the Lincoln Park ‘hood was the St. Valentines Day Massacre. Currently, 2221 N. Clark Street is a landscaped area/parking lot for a nursing home. Here once stood the garage where the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre took place. The massacre, which happened in 1929, was the murder of six mob associates and a mechanic of a North Side Irish gang led by Mr. Bugs Moran during the Prohibition Era. It resulted from the ongoing struggle between the Irish American gang and the South Side Italian gang led by Mr. Al Capone to take control of organized crime in Chicago.
The garage was demolished in 1967.
From 1896 to 1903, the original Ferris Wheel was located at a small amusement park near Clark and Wrightwood. The site was situated near 2665 N. Clark, which now plays home to a McDonald’s and a high-rise residential building.
In Lincoln Park, you will find the free and fabulous Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago History Museum, Nature Museum, North Pond Sanctuary and Theatre on the Lake. This hip neighborhood also has great shopping, dining, nightlife, bars, theaters, health clubs, salons – all in a variety of interesting, walk-able areas. The Lincoln Park neighborhood has a much more residential feel than other downtown Chicago neighborhoods, with a mix of great vintage architecture and a myriad of newer, modern buildings. There are also some of the best public and private schools in the city (Francis Parker, The Latin School, Lincoln Park High) and DePaul University’s main campus. Go Blue Demons!!
Lincoln Park is constantly one of the top 2 most popular areas to live in in Chicago. The cost of living however, prevents many folks from being able to have that exciting address. Average listing price for homes in Lincoln Park hang around the $1 million dollar price tag. Average price per square foot for homes in Lincoln Park is around $536 in this quarter, which is over 140% higher than the average price per square foot for homes elsewhere in Chicago. The housing stockpile, bars, restaurants, even shopping, etc. tend to be pricier here compared to other residential neighborhoods.
Some of the most beautiful things about Lincoln Park are the things not known mainstream or talked about. TV shows and films shooting. Models and print ad shoots. And secrets about the area. And, the people. Residents here love their hood, love their city and work to make Lincoln Park as friendly as it is beautiful.
Other secrets, with relevance to Lincoln Park are: In 1998, when building the parking garage for the Chicago History Museum, builders excavated the remains of 81 different individuals from the old cemetery. Today, researchers estimate that as many as 12,000 bodies may still be buried underneath Lincoln Park. At the Lincoln Park zoo, animal waste is treated as “a management tool” to monitor animals health. Once, a zookeeper looked into the waste of a camel and found that it was eating too much of the free-growing plant materials in its space and determined that these trees, and the soil they were growing in, were contributing to this unusual zoo poo. The median age in Lincoln Park is 31. The scene in ‘What Women Want’, where Mel Gibson walks out of his apartment building into the park and begins hearing women’s thoughts, was filmed at 2400 N. Lakeview. And contrary to what some Chicagoans say, the band Linkin Park is named after a city in California called Lincoln Park, not ours here in Illinois.