Uptown is large enough that it is home to several distinct areas—each with their own history, flavor, and character. Even though boundaries vary depending on who you ask, added together they make Uptown a vibrant “city within a city.”
ASIA ON ARGYLE
The blocks around the Argyle “L” station are a distinct district within Uptown brimming with character and history. Once a Jewish community, Chinese entrepreneurs in the 1970s as well as refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia following the 1975 Fall of Saigon, transformed the area by opening restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, and social service agencies.
Today, Asian-American entrepreneurs continue to be drawn here, with a spate of recent eateries and cafes that opened around the “L” station. Long-standing businesses still thrive, and several have been passed onto second generation owners. Plus, the new shared-street design allows businesses to open sidewalk cafes and provides more space for hosting street festivals like the Argyle Night Market, which draws more than 40,000 annual attendees. Argyle Night Markets occurs every Thursday evening in July and August.
Tucked between Lake Michigan and Graceland Cemetery, Buena Park is a tight-knit community and nationally recognized historic district. Popular for its many tree-lined blocks and Prairie-style historic mansions, Buena Park faces Montrose Beach and Harbor—both popular destinations for tens of thousands of Chicagoans.
Founded as a bucolic retreat from urban life in the 1860s, by the 1930s Buena Park took on its current densely settled character, largely thanks to the construction of the “L.” Despite the more recent construction of many high-rise buildings, the area retains much of its historic charm, particularly in the landmarked Hutchinson Street area., The rest of the neighborhood is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
MARGATE PARK, LAKESIDE, CLARENDON PARK, AND THE LAKEFRONT
Facing Lake Michigan, the Margate, Lakeside, and Clarendon Park area is known for its many lakefront amenities and a concentration of residential high-rises alongside historic residential buildings. In warm months, thousands pack Montrose Beach and Harbor daily. Montrose Beach features food concessions, kayak and volleyball rentals, showers, restrooms, and an ADA-accessible beach walk. Patrons can park at pay-and-display lots or take advantage of street parking. A busy dog-friendly beach is located at the north end of Montrose Beach. Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is a spot birdwatchers from near and far gather to see over 340 species.
The Clarendon Park Fieldhouse is home to the Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad Club and features The Garfield Central, a model railroad with over 1,400 feet of hand-laid track. The fieldhouse is also home to Kuumba Lynx, a 20-year-old urban art youth development organization that presents, preserves, and promotes hip hop as a tool to reimagine and demonstrate a more just world.
Centered along Wilson Avenue west of Broadway and known for its historic homes and many small businesses, Uptown’s Sheridan Park district is adjacent to Truman College and its 23,000 faculty and students, plus large-scale events such as Chicago’s Pride Parade and Windy City RibFest.
In 1985, the Sheridan Park Historic District was established to protect the unique single family and smaller multi-family architecture of the area. Many of the large single-family homes and apartment buildings along Dover Street date to the early 1900s. In 2007, Dover Street was established as a city landmark district.
Uptown’s long and colorful history as an entertainment destination is centered at the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence. Today Uptown remains packed with venues big and small, including the Aragon Ballroom, Riviera Theater, Uptown Underground, and Uptown Lounge, which draw large audiences year-round—adding up to more than 240,000 annual attendees. Meanwhile, the Green Mill remains one of the nation’s premier jazz clubs. Recent developments and new businesses only reinforce the area’s standing as a regional entertainment destination.
ANDERSONVILLE & EAST RAVENSWOOD
Andersonville is well known as a destination for shopping and eating, but less known is that its southern half extends into Uptown as the blocks along Clark Street south of Foster Avenue lay within the Uptown community area. This commercial corridor is known for its Swedish heritage and a concentration of locally owned restaurants and shops.
Uptown’s western-most district is primarily a residential community filled with vintage homes and apartment buildings. It also includes some industry along Ravenswood Avenue. Clark Street is known for its eclectic shops, restaurants, and the renowned Black Ensemble Theater. Lawrence Avenue and Montrose Avenue have clusters of local restaurants and shops, especially near the Montrose “L” station and Ravenswood Metra station.