|We couldn't have said it better ourselves.|
The community area of Uptown is technically made up of about eight or so smaller neighborhoods. But, you never hear anyone say they’re from Margate Park, or Truman Square, or Clarendon Park. Save for some who may point out they reside in Buena Park (perhaps for fear of being associated with the rest of the community area), you’re not from a smaller neighborhood, or visiting a tiny section of the area. No, you’re from Uptown, or you’re visiting Uptown.
Uptown is diverse in ways that go beyond statistics, although those numbers certainly verify its diversity. It’s an area that’s been developing for the past century, and will continue to do so for many, many decades. Block-for-block, Uptown isn’t the most attractive or pedestrian-friendly neighborhood by any means. But for an overall unique and often unexpected experience, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fascinating place in the entire city.
The boundaries: Throughout the entire community area, the northern boundary is Foster Avenue, and the eastern border is Lake Michigan. To the south, the boundary is Montrose Avenue from Ravenswood Avenue to Clark Street. Then from Clark to the lake, the southern boundary is Irving Park Road. To the west, the border is Ravenswood Avenue from Foster Avenue to Montrose. Then from Montrose to Irving Park Road, the western border is Clark Street.
Population make-up: Uptown consists of twelve Census tracts, and remains one of the most racially diverse community areas in the City. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 51% white, 20% black, 14% Hispanic, and 11% Asian. However, the white demographic is the only one of the four that has seen a population increase since 2000.
Like many Chicago neighborhoods, Uptown has seen a substantial population decline overall, losing over 11% of its population from 2000 to 2010. However, it is still the 12th most populated community area in the City.
A brief history: Uptown has an extensive and sometimes tumultuous history. In its early stages, it grew from farmland to a neighborhood of wealthy and middle-class residents. The 1910s and 1920s saw Uptown become one of Chicago’s major entertainment hubs with the addition of the Riviera, the Uptown Theater, and the Aragon Ballroom (all of which are still standing today, although the Uptown Theater is not currently in use and is in GREAT need of a multi-million dollar renovation). During the Great Depression and World War II, the make-up of the area changed. It became the home of an incredibly diverse population, but throngs of these new residents were crammed into units that once housed fewer people. Construction stalled during this time and into the 1950s, save for more upscale condos built along the lake, and the majority of residents had to live in aging housing stock. Increasing poverty, crime, and blight caused residents of Uptown’s northern half to band together and form a separate community area, Edgewater.
|Broadway, just south of Wilson, on a rainy day.|
A result of an incredibly hectic century is Chicago’s most financially and ethnically diverse neighborhood. The community area is home to “New Chinatown” (a misnomer: it’s mostly Vietnamese and Korean), one of the seven City Colleges, a still-thriving entertainment district at Broadway and Lawrence, and an incredible array of ethnic dining options.
Getting there: If you’re taking the “L” there are multiple options along the Red Line. Argyle will drop you off in the heart of New Chinatown, Lawrence takes you directly to the entertainment district, Wilson drops you off at Truman College and a retail corridor along Broadway, and the Sheridan stop is technically in Lake View but is less than a block from Uptown’s southern border (Irving Park Road). Metra is also an option. If you take the UP-North line to Ravenswood station, you'll be on the western edge of Uptown at Ravenswood and Lawrence.
If you’re taking the bus, you have multiple east-west options: Foster (92), Lawrence (81), Montrose (78), and Irving Park (80). There are also a few buses that head down Wilson (78, 145, 148). But let’s say you wanted to do something crazy and go north-south, well then you could take these routes: Clark (22), Broadway (36), Sheridan (151), and Marine Drive (136, 144, 146).