Four neighbourhoods that are transforming Chicago’s identity
Often overshadowed by New York and Los Angeles, Chicago has drawn far less attention. Located in the centre of the US along Lake Michigan, this city has historically been a magnet for immigrants who, over time, have turned it into one of the most diverse cities in North America. We toured four of the city’s neighbourhoods, where you will feel as if you’ve been whisked away to Asia, Europe and Latin America.
1 Pilsen: the Latin influence
Located less than half an hour from the city centre, Pilsen is the heart of multiculturalism in Chicago. Its first inhabitants were Eastern Europeans but, more recently, it has welcomed Latin Americans, especially Mexicans, who have become neighbourhood leaders. Some of its can’t-miss features include street art, the National Museum of Mexican Art, 18th Street and the burgers and beers at Simone’s.
2 Ukrainian Village: a pocket of Eastern Europe
This is a little hidden gem just minutes from downtown Chicago. Its nostalgic vibe, tree-lined streets and old houses are like a trip through time, making it quite possibly one of the city’s most original and striking neighbourhoods. Top shopping spots include Penelope’s – with a 1960s look – and the Occult Bookstore, which sells old books. Want to walk and look? Do some window shopping around the shops and cafés on Chicago and Division avenues.
3 Bridgeport: where it all began
Irish and German migrants came to Chicago in the 1850s and settled in Bridgeport. Five of the city’s mayors were born here. It differs from its neighbour to the north – Pilsen – by not having been completely gentrified... yet. Bridgeport still maintains its original multicultural charm melded with a genuine US aesthetic. A good example is Berenice’s Tavern, a bar frequented by locals that features live bands and bingo nights. Maria’s Packaged Goods is another alternative: 300 craft beers and beverages bring artists and residents to a spot it calls a “community bar”.
4 Uptown: between Al Capone and dim sum
A mix of jazz, blues and Southeast Asia make Uptown one of the best places to get away from Chicago’s sometimes chaotic centre. One of its concert halls, The Green Mill, was Al Capone’s favourite when he lived in the city. On Argyle Street, a little further north, Asian communities have reinvigorated Chicago’s gastronomic scene with Peking duck, pho, sushi and dim sum. It’s worth taking the train to venture into a culinary tour of this unknown part of the Windy City, as Chicago is known in the US.