Quantcast Chicago Neighborhood History: The Impact of the Great Chicago Fire |
Chicago Neighborhood History: The Impact of the Great Chicago Fire

Chicago neighborhood history is defined in large part by the city’s resiliency after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This event opened opportunity for reinvention, fearlessness and creativity, as engineers and architects began the daunting task of designing new structures that would reinvent the city in the wake of tragedy.

The groundbreaking skyscrapers of Chicago’s downtown Loop area brought worldwide recognition to the city and inspired growth in surrounding neighborhoods. The preeminent architect Louis Sullivan completed his final project in 1922 in what is now the culturally diverse Lincoln Square neighborhood. Highly influential business tycoons like hotelier Potter Palmer, retail kingpin Marshall Field and newspaper publisher Cyrus McCormick called the Gold Coast their home, living in luxurious mansions and apartments.

If you’re considering buying a home in the city, here’s a closer look at a few neighborhoods whose character was shaped in part by the renaissance following the Great Chicago Fire.


Originally established as a prominent community for Swedish immigrants on the far North Side, Andersonville has evolved into a lively, progressive neighborhood. The historic Andersonville business district, which runs along Ashland Avenue and Clark Street, consists of late 19th and early 20th century architecture, much of which was once home to Swedish-owned establishments. It’s a tight-knit community known to aggressively support local, independently owned restaurants and businesses. The town boasts one of the nation’s most notable feminist bookstores, Women and Children First. There’s also the Andersonville Galleria, which rents out space to dozens of local merchants and one-of-a-kind designers. The neighborhood is walkable, dog-friendly, family-friendly, easily accessible by public transportation and right off of Lake Shore Drive. It offers a good mix of single-family homes and low-rise condominiums.

Bronzeville and Hyde Park

Hyde Park home

Photo Source: Flickr

Although these two South Side neighborhoods are geographically adjacent, Bronzeville and Hyde Park each have their own unique history.

According to the Bronzeville Area Residents’ and Commerce Council, Bronzeville was considered Chicago’s answer to Harlem during its renaissance from the Great Migration of the early 1900s, thanks to its vibrant entertainment district. Back then, the neighborhood drew the likes of Golden Age stars like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. The neighborhood fell into decline in the years following World War II, but renewed interest in recent years has transformed it into one of the city’s hottest areas. More locally owned and big-box stores are moving in, as well as new construction of single-family homes, townhomes and mid-rise condominiums.

Hyde Park, just south of Bronzeville, boasts the University of Chicago and is just off Lake Michigan. It’s also home to former President Obama, whose mansion is in an exclusive enclave called Kenwood. The 53rd Street strip is the pulse of Hyde Park as it offers a number of local shops and restaurants catering to a middle-class clientele. Hyde Park is very walkable, offering biking and jogging paths on the lakefront. Real estate is a good mix of single-family homes as well as high-rise and mid-rise condominium buildings.

Lincoln Square

The significance of Chicago neighborhood history is certainly not lost on the residents of Lincoln Square, a rapidly emerging area on the city’s North Side. It was settled by German and English immigrants in the 1850s and includes the subdivision of Ravenswood, home to current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Old-world charm that includes vintage lanterns throughout the commercial business district, a pedestrian plaza and European-style shops and restaurants, sets this neighborhood apart from others.

There’s plenty of great architecture to appreciate in Lincoln Square. The Sixth, a cocktail lounge housed in an 1880s-era building, was once used by the Women Ordinance Workers to produce ammunition. This family-friendly neighborhood is filled with new construction and single-family homes in historic buildings.

If you’re considering a move, Chicago offers an abundance of neighborhoods rich in history in culture. Check out Owners.com to find the perfect fit for you.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.


Homes near you:

Don't miss a listing

Get the owners.com app today

People are also reading