The Oldest Neighborhoods in Chicago
Chicago has roots back to the late 17th century when French explorers and missionaries first made contact with the Potawatomi natives. The Battle at Fort Dearborn caused the early settlers to leave the area. From there, real estate was built very quickly because of the desire for easy access to transportation. After that, Chicago quickly became a melting pot and diverse cultural area. Here are some of the oldest neighborhoods that may resemble what life was like back then.
Old Town is also known as “The Cabbage Patch” because original German immigrants were attracted to the area for the farming. Old Town houses many beautiful Victorian style homes. It has preserved by the Chicago Historic District since 1977. One of the most notable events in Old Town was that it was designated as a neighborhood defense unit by Chicago’s Civil Defense Agency during World War II. Currently old town is popular due to the comedy shows and family owned restaurants. The town celebrates and recognizes small family owned stores and steers clear of corporate chain stores. Old Town also hosts one of America’s oldest art fairs, the Old Town Art Fair which has been around since 1950. The art fair also has live music, which brings many to enjoy over 200 artists.
St Charles was believed to host locations in the underground railroad during the slavery abolishment era. Many community leaders of St. Charles were known slavery abolitionists. Many of the older homes still have evidence of the underground railroad. St. Charles is home to a famous historic building called the Collins House. The Collins house was built around 1836 and there is evidence of a trap door which was believed to help aid those using the underground railroad to reach freedom. The Hotel Baker was opened in 1928 and attracted many tourists as a popular romantic vacation hotel destination.
Lake forest remained inaccessible to early farmers looking to settle in Chicago. Railroads were built in 1855 that allowed transportation to Lake Forest and it was first settled by Presbyterians in 1857. The neighborhood was designed by many famous land and home architects. The landscape design was purposely engineered to be secluded from the rest of the rest of Chigaco due to conflicting religious and social beliefs of the residents from the rest of the Chicago area.
Norwood Park was formed in 1872 after the railroads started to extend their reach and allow for easier transportation to and from the area. The neighborhood was named after a town in a famous novel by Henry Ward Beecher. Norwood Park is home to one of the oldest farmhouses in Chicago, the Wingert House. The house was home to John Wingert and was built in 1854. John Wingert fled Germany to escape religious persecution. Chicago’s oldest house also resides in Norwood Park, The Clarke House. The Clarke House is now a museum located in the Chicago Women’s Park.
If you are fortunate enough to live near these historic neighborhoods, it’s always a treat to stop by and learn more about their history. If you are planning on visiting the Chicago area, it is a really great place for history fanatics.