Wicker Park is a neighborhood within the West Town community area of Chicago. It’s known for its diverse art community, nightlife, hipster culture, and culinary scene. As its name suggests, Wicker Park originated as a park in the 19th century. By the late 1800s, a subdivision was built surrounding the four-acre green space. Soon, it became a popular enclave for the city’s wealthy Northern European immigrants.
By the 21st century, Wicker Park became known for its entertainment, restaurants, and commercial establishments. It’s a popular place for commuters, thanks to its proximity to the Loop and its public transportation. Further helping solidify the nabe’s “cool” reputation, MTV’s The Real World: Chicago was staged here in 2001. Since, it has only increased in popularity, known for its trendy boutiques, gourmet restaurants, artistic businesses, and European-style cafes.
Wicker Park Restaurants
Wicker Park is home to both age-old classics and new start-ups in the culinary scene. When it comes to classics, nothing is more iconic than Club Lucky, open since the post-Prohibition era. Today, it serves up a family-style Italian menu with traditional cocktails from the 1950s. If you’re looking for something more exotic, there’s Nepelese, Mexican, Greek, vegetarian and contemporary twists on American. You can also get some great slices of pizza, from thin crust Chicago style.
Wicker Park Hotels
While you’ll certainly find more accommodations to the southeast in The Loop, the recent addition of the boutique hotel, The Robey, solidified the neighborhood’s trendy reputation. The four-star hotel is housed in a former office building. The Art Deco-style building was built in 1929, just a minute’s walk from the L station. Today, the luxe accommodations offer a great way to stay in the nabe, as well as a French/American restaurant and a rooftop terrace bar.
Wicker Park Attractions
Fans of the arts won’t want to miss a visit to the Flatiron Arts Building. Established in 1985—the heyday of the nabe’s artistic bohemian culture—the building hosts an array of artists studios and local businesses. It’s open to the public daily and on the first Friday of each month, visitors can take a look inside the artists’ studios.
Wicker Park Architecture
Part of the city since its incorporation, there are many examples of historic architecture in Wicker Park. There’s the landmark Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Bridge—a rare example of a “bobtail” swing span bridge from the late 1800s. You can also wander the Wicker Park historic district, home to great examples of Victorian-era architecture along Pierce and Hoyne Streets. Many brewery owners bought residents here, and Hoyne Street became known as “Beer Baron Row.”
Wicker Park Shopping
With its hipster culture, there’s no surprise you’ll find a lot of great, unique shopping in Wicker Park. Shop limited-edition sneakers at Saint Alfred’s, or grab the perfect T-shirt at Marine Layer. There are also trendy, high-end boutiques like Moon Voyage and Gather Home + Lifestyle.
You can also find Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstore in the nabe—Myopic Bookstore. If you want to dig through vinyl, stop into Reckless Records, with a great used selection as well as new releases. Finally, shop upscale vintage at Silver Moon and Vintage Underground.
Wicker Park Theater
You might not find Shakespeare, but there is a load of live entertainment in Wicker Park. Catch a heavy rock or hip hop show at Subterranean. Or, if you prefer the theater, you can check out the three-story hub, The Den Theater. The building hosts three resident companies as well is its own productions.
Wicker Park Festivals & Events
Wicker Park has its own self-named festival, held every summer. The weekend-long music-first festival hosts some of the city’s best acts of the year. For more slow-paced entertainment, the neighborhood hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market on Sundays, featuring fresh regional produce and goods.
Of course, at the center of the neighborhood is still the four-acre Wicker Park. There’s a beautiful fountain, basketball courts, and a gymnasium with meeting rooms. In the middle of the park, you’ll find a lush community garden with plenty of outdoor tables to take in the views.