Lincoln Park (Chicago), Illinois
The area known as Lincoln Park takes up a large chunk of Chicago's northern real estate and is an official Community Area that is actually made up of multiple smaller neighborhoods. Lincoln Park is named for the large park which hugs the Lake Michigan coastline and features many attractions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Observatory, the Chicago History Museum, the North Avenue Beach, and a statue of Abraham Lincoln among others. The Lincoln Park community features several commercial districts, including the Lincoln Avenue corridor and the Clark Street corridor. Near the intersection of North Avenue, Halsted Street, and Clybourn Avenue on the southern border of Lincoln Park is another commercial district as well.
However, we'll be focusing on the Armitage-Halsted District on this page as it has the closest feel to a Main Street community that we love on our site. The area came into its own around the turn of the century when it was announced that a station for the "L" (Chicago's elevated mass-transit system) would be built on Armitage Avenue. Business leaders began rebuilding the structures along Armitage for commercial uses. Today, many of these structures are still standing. You can see the Victorian-style architecture with large bay windows to show off the goods for sale. The buildings were ornamented with pressed-metal bays, cornices, and corner turrets. This architectural feel was used down Armitage and on Halsted Street as well. Up until recently, the area was known for its many high-end boutiques. Currently, some of the boutiques have closed and are being replaced with eateries, giving the area a bit more variety and vitality.
Lincoln Park is about five miles north of Chicago's downtown Loop area. The Armitage-Halsted District can be reached by taking the CTA Brown Line north to the Armitage stop. This will place you in the heart of the neighborhood. Purple Line express trains also stop at the Armitage Station during weekday rush hours. There are some shops and cafes to the west of the station, but the rest are to the east and if you continue heading in that direction, you will also hit Halsted Street. Armitage runs east and west and Halsted runs north and south. Other areas worth checking out in Chicago include Michigan Avenue, Gold Coast, Old Town, Wicker Park, and Andersonville.
We start our tour of Chicago's Lincoln Park community at the intersection of Kenmore Avenue and Armitage Avenue. We'll head east on Armitage Avenue until we reach Halsted Avenue. Armitage and Halsted are the two primary Main Streets of this section of Lincoln Park.
Lincoln Park is a large community covering a huge portion of northern Chicago. On this tour, we'll concentrate on the Armitage-Halsted District of Lincoln Park. Other commercial areas in Lincoln Park include the Lincoln Avenue area and the Clark Street area. But the area we'll be focusing on is the closest to that Main Street feel that we love on our site.
We continue east to the intersection of Armitage Avenue and Sheffield Avenue. The Armitage-Halsted District is known for its upscale boutiques. But as some of the boutiques have closed over the years many of them have been replaced by cafes and eateries. This Le Pain Quotidien used to be a Ralph Lauren Rugby store.
But fortunately many of the boutiques still survive, so you can still window shop before or after getting that bite to eat.
This is a view looking westbound across Sheffield Avenue down Armitage Avenue in the direction we just came from.
And across the street is another one of the eateries that have been popping up around this part of Lincoln Park.
Looking eastbound along Armitage Avenue we see Chicago's famous "L" train tracks passing overhead.
Here's a view of the station itself, which opened in 1900. The Brown Line serves this station. Purple Line express trains also stop at the station during weekday rush hours. Red Line trains pass through on the middle tracks, but do not stop. Got it? No wonder that lady is asking for help.
After passing underneath the tracks, we turn around and get another shot of the station. There's also a train overhead. Here, you can get an idea of the Victorian architecture in the area. When the "L" station was announced to be opened at Armitage Avenue, the road was converted to a commercial district, in anticipation of the traffic it would bring to the area.
Here's a view facing eastbound along Armitage Avenue. Notice the intricate design of the buildings facing Armitage? This was intentional. With the train coming to the area near the end of the ninteenth century, business leaders began sprucing up their properties to prepare for the commerce that would soon be coming their way.
Armitage Avenue is considered to be one of the most picturesque and intact nineteenth century neighborhood commercial streetscapes remaining in Chicago. The buildings are ornamented with pressed-metal bays, cornices, and corner turrets.
The Aldine is an example of Romanesque Revival archtecture. It was once a beer and dance hall frequented by the local German population. Notice the design features, such as the turret in the middle and the large bay windows. These were used by developers to attract businesses who would set up shop close to the soon to be opened train station.
Across the street are slightly less ornate structures, but they still have some large storefronts for window shopping.
This is a view looking eastbound on Armitage Avenue at the intersection of Armitage and Fremont Street.
We continue east along Armitage Avenue. Although some of these buildings retain that Victorian turn of the centurty feel, some of the other buildings seem a bit more modern.
And across the street, we see more upscale boutiques all housed in buildings made up of a wide variety of architecture.
We continue east. This is another view facing westbound.
There's quite a bit of activity on this corner. It's funny because some people look cold in this picture and others look warm. Their selling the apparel in the window for summer, so it wouldn't hurt to get into the mood.
We pull back to get another view of the same stretch. Much of this architecture appears more modern than the Victorian style we were looking at earlier.
Speaking of modern, check out the new Walgreens at the intersection of Armitage and Dayton Street. It was just about to open at the time this picture was taken.
Catty-corner from the Walgreens on the southeast corner of Armitage Avenue and Dayton Street is this fine Victorian gem with the familiar corner turrets.
Across the street is a wedding shop with this interesting wrough iron gate surrounding the front.
And if we move down to the east just a little bit we have another row of interesting historical buildings. The one on the left is interesting with the ivy growing up the walls.
Berco's Popcorn is another addition to Armitage Avenue's recent burgeoning foodie scene. In the background, to the right, you can see we are close to Halsted Street. The bank building on the far right on Halsted is probably not one of the best architectural examples in the area.
Here's another view of the intersection of Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street. This is the southwest corner. This bank building is a little less offensive than the bank building on the northeast corner. Really, I just wanted to give you an idea of what the intersection looked like. As you can see, it's pretty busy.
Most of the commercial district is north of here, but there's a little activity to the south so let's take a slight detour in that direction first and then we'll swing back north. This is a view of the southeast corner of Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street.
Here's a view of a few more shops, restaurants and other businesses just south of Armitage Avenue. If you continue heading south the area gets more residential and quieter. However if you continue for about half a mile (about a ten minute walk), you'll hit North Avenue and you'll hit another major shopping destination, featuring major retail chains. At this point, however, we'll turn around.
Here's a view of the west side of Halsted Street. Most of our pictures will be of the west side of Halsted Street. The east side of Halsted was mostly made of more modern residential blocks.
We continue to make our way north on Halsted Street. There are a variety of boutiques and other shops. Some are independents and some are chains.
This is a view looking southbound along Halsted Street. The clock on the sidewalk is an interesting touch.
Familiar chains and plenty of on street parking can be found along Halsted Street.
At the northwest corner of Halsted Street and Dickens Avenue is this excellent example of Victorian architecture.
As I mentioned previously, most of the commercial action is on the west side of Halsted Street. Here's an example of the residential architecture on the east side of Halsted. Not very inspired, but it's included here to give you an idea of what's going on across the street.
We continue heading north along Halsted Street. Again, we're back to viewing the west side of Halsted Street. It rained pretty heavily the night before, hence the huge puddle on the bottom left-hand corner of the picture.
Here's a view looking southbound along Halsted Street. A sign informs visitors about the Armitage-Halsted Landmark District.
We continue walking north along Halsted Street. Check out the historic, brick Police Station now repurposed as retail space.
And of course we just continue working our way north along Halsted Street.
Looking across to the east side of Halsted Street we finally see some businesses. We look down Webster Street and see some eateries in the St. Vincent de Paul Center, some with outdoor seating.
And looking back on the west side of Halsted Street again we see more clothing boutiques.
Here's a few more businesses on the east side of Halstead Street as we conclude out tour. If we head a few more blocks north, we'll hit DePaul University. The school's close proximity helps the area's businesses and gives it some of its college town vibe.
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