Neighborhood Highlight: North Center – the Heart of the North Side
The North Center neighborhood in Chicago is considered to be the heart of the North Side. Here, you’ll find craft brews, family fun and plenty of housing opportunities. Whether you want to spend the weekend browsing boutiques or cozied up with friends over a pint, you’ll love North Center. Here is some insight into the area history and entertainment spots that might entice you to make the neighborhood your next Chicago home.
North Center History
This unique neighborhood loosely spans from Montrose to Addison, Ravenswood and the Chicago River. The first inhabitants were likely Potowatomi, Miami or Illinois Native Americans who used the Chicago River and nearby Lake Michigan as transit routes and for food resources.
In the 1860s and 1870s, the Ravenswood Land Company started selling land in the North Center area for residential use. Bricktown workers who build bricks out of locally mined clay moved into the area as all housing moved north to get away from the danger and garbage associated with the clay processing to the south.
In the early 1900s, shopping centers and housing developments were established and people had the funds to spend on leisure. In 1902, the “Figure Eight” ride at Schuetzen Sharpshooters’ Park began operation and is considered the precursor to what we now call roller coasters. The area gained its name in the 1920s when a local printer named Henry Moberg began referring to the neighborhood as North Center.
Today, the area is easily accessible thanks to the Irving Park brown line CTA station, the 80 bus that runs East and West on Irving Park Road and the 50 bus that transports riders north and south on Damen Avenue. Northcenter offers plenty of housing for the over 31,000 residents from brick two-flats with outdoor decks to new, modern homes with ample storage and easy parking.
Local Food and Drink HotspotsMany breweries in Chicago are overrun with tourists. However, due to its location, the Half Acre Lincoln Brewery is less likely to be packed with out-of-towners. Here, you can take a seat on a rustic wooden bench to take in the tasty smells of fermenting hops and experimental brews. The taproom offers a full menu including flavorful food, beers and even housemade sparkling water called Sparkle Boi. Dig into a cup of vegetarian chili or nachos while sipping on a pony pilsner or horchata root beer.
Stop by Orange Garden, the oldest Chinese restaurant in Chicago, if you’re craving some traditional Chinese food. Located at 1942 West Irving Park Road, you can dine in to enjoy vegetable spring rolls, fried rice and chicken egg foo young. Or, order delivery of fan favorites like pad thai noodle, pressed duck or walnut chicken.
The Bad Apple at 4300 North Lincoln Ave is known for its juicy burgers and features unique American foods made from scratch on-site with all-natural ingredients. Start the night with some poutine (a vegetarian-friendly version is available) before trying the Senior Sloth burger topped with queso fresco, jalapeno salsa, grilled pineapple and pork al pastor.
Photo by Michael Dougherty
Kid-friendly EntertainmentVisit Timber Lanes Bowling Alley at 1851 W. Irving Park Road to play a game or two. You may recognize the interior from the classic film, “The Big Lebowski.” Families love sending the balls hurtling toward the pins on the traditional wood lanes. Work on math with your little ones as you manually score each round, and visit the full bar for adult beverages and sodas. Whether you attend open bowling or join a league, be sure to bring some cash - it’s a cash-only establishment.
During the summertime, take a bite out of Chicago by attending Ribfest - a classic street fest. This delicious event takes over several blocks at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, Damen Avenue and Irving Park Road. Here, you can watch fun performers like circus arts teams and the Old Town School of Folk Music while enjoying barbecue from local establishments. Start with ribs and mac and cheese. Then, wash everything down with a pina colada or lemonade before trying a churro or slurping some ice cream.
Those looking to get outside together should visit Revere (Paul) Park, a 9.4-acre green space at the intersection of Irving Park Road and Campbell Avenue. Join a sports league for kids or adults, and attend classes and summer camp at the field house. The soft-surface playground is the perfect place to burn off some energy and enjoy Chicago weather all year round.
Make North Center Your HomeWhen you’re ready to make North Center your home, contact KlopasStratton to start viewing local listings. Their Chicago-based real estate team can help you find a dream apartment, condo or house so you can start enjoying all that the Heart of the North Side has to offer.