One of the highlights of the Chicago Marathon is that it takes participants through 29 neighborhoods within the Windy City’s 77 communities. Some of these Chicago neighborhoods boast unique personalities, and the marathon offers an opportunity to see them up close and personal as fans cheer on their favorite athletes.
For homeowners in these areas, the fascination goes far beyond distinctive architecture or a chance to sink their teeth into authentic ethnic fare. Neighborhoods like Chinatown, Pilsen and Ukrainian Village provide different lifestyles for their residents that they wouldn’t experience if they lived elsewhere. This guide provides you with an inside look into five of Chicago’s unique neighborhoods.
Only a few miles from the Loop, Chinatown feels like a world unto itself. Unlike most ethnic Chicago neighborhoods, which have seen a sharp decline in their main constituency due to gentrification, Chinatown and the surrounding areas have seen their Asian population boom in recent years.
Chinatown Square serves as the heart of the neighborhood, and many of the signs are in Mandarin. Within the square are a number of Chinese and other Asian shops and restaurants, the Pan Asian Cultural Center and the Pui Tak Center Building, which houses a reception hall that is the only indigenous Chinese shrine in the Midwest. During the Chinese New Year, there’s an official ceremony and parade officiated by the Chinatown Mayor and the Mayor of Chicago. Most of the housing stock here consists of multiunit condos and townhomes.
As part of what feels like a never-ending construction boom in the West Loop, a 44-story cylindrical residential tower known as One South Halsted is set to be the city’s tallest building west of the Kennedy Expressway. That’s directly in Greektown, which is situated in the West Loop along Halsted Street.
Despite this latest development, the area’s Greek merchants still have a big presence and homeowners can expect to find plenty of ethnic character even amid the new housing developments. Many establishments of all generations boast signs in Greek, ranging from modern Artopolis Bakery to the long-standing Greek Islands Restaurant. The National Hellenic Museum preserves the history of Greeks and Greek Americans in the United States.
Located on the lower west side of the city, Pilsen boasts a large Hispanic population. The presence of the National Museum of Mexican Arts, which hosts cultural events throughout the year, showcases the rich heritage of the neighborhood while Eighteenth Street offers colorful street vendors, performers and vibrant murals. Those looking to buy in Pilsen will find many multiunit condos and townhomes.
4. Roscoe Village
While not an ethnically focused neighborhood, Roscoe Village has a cozy, tight-knit feeling because it attracts many young families with its single-family homes, multiunit condos and townhomes. The main strip along Roscoe and Belmont streets embodies an old-world vibe with a number of antique shops, record stores, restaurants and taverns in vintage storefronts.
The charm comes full-circle during festival season, when Retro on Roscoe occurs. It’s a chance for car connoisseurs to show off their vintage automobiles during an event that includes an old-fashioned ice cream stand, throwback bands and local artisanal vendors.
5. Ukrainian Village
Just south of trendy Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village remains a haven for families of Eastern European descent. The Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago preserves the heritage of the neighborhood, and there are several bakeries, restaurants and delis serving specialty items. The neighborhood features many single-family homes, multiunit condos and townhomes.
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