Chicago is a diverse city with many unique aspects. One neighborhood that showcases the family friendly aspects of Chicago is Lincoln Park, named after President Abraham Lincoln. This district of Chicago is named after its primary public park. This open green space is home to the Lincoln Park Zoo, playgrounds, basketball courts and walking paths, just to name a few of the activities available. In addition, this park borders Lake Michigan beaches, such as North Avenue Beach, the North Pond Nature Conservatory and the lakeside jogging trail.
Lincoln Park is more than just a park!
With all these family friendly outdoor offerings, Lincoln Park provides plenty of green space activities. But the neighborhood is more than just a park. It also has unique local shops, upscale retailers, as well as restaurants and bookstores. This district is also home to an outdoor theater, Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Chicago History Museum. A statue of Ulysses Grant and one of Abraham Lincoln with the park itself are also points of interest.
Looking for a laugh? Located within Lincoln Park is Second City, an improv comedy club famous for its alumni, including John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Glida Radner and John Belushi. Saturday Night Live owes much to this slice of Chicago.
Following the Civil War, this neighborhood became home to northern Polish immigrants. The St. Josaphat’s Roman Catholic Church was located here and anchored this Polish Patch within Chicago. Overtime, other influences began to shape the district, but evidence of that early Polish influence can be seen in this church’s architecture.
Yet this neighborhood also has its share of mob history as well, particularly in the 1930s as Prohibition was in full swing. The Valentine Day massacre happened here, along with the killing of John Dillinger by FBI agents. During the 1930s, the buildings and neighborhood began to show signs of disrepair. As with most historical neighborhoods, a concentrated effort to restore these buildings was spearheaded by residents. The Lincoln Park Conservation Association was formed in 1954 and began to receive urban renewal grants throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Thus they were able to preserve the historical buildings, schools and churches, keeping the unique aspects of the neighborhood alive.
Politics have always been significant part of the fabric of Chicago life. So it is no surprise that Chicago was the host of the 1968 Democratic Convention. This convention was significant because the rallies and protests against the Vietnam War resulted in clashes with the police. Protestors were relegated to the Lincoln Park area. Thus, the neighborhood became the site of what was later referred to as a police riot. One of the protest leaders, Abbie Hoffman, became famous for his antics throughout the trial of the seven protest leaders (Chicago 7).
The next wave of immigrants into the Lincoln Park area were Puerto Ricans during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This group of immigrants also included protestors and civil rights activists, reflecting the political climate of the times. Today, the region is a mix of professionals, young families and singles. Educational opportunities are provided by Chicago Public Schools, as well as the DePaul University. Lincoln Park High School is one of the leading public schools in Chicago, as well as the only public high school in the neighborhood.
For those that enjoy music, Lincoln Park offers plenty of live venues to enjoy local and national acts. Places such as the Park West, Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S and Lincoln Hall have provided residents with a wealth of musical options. This community also has historic jazz roots, as Jelly Roll Morton recorded his compilations here in the mid-1920s at the Webster Hotel Ballroom, now the Webster House.
Lincoln Park offers plenty of historical and cultural references, as well as entertainment and shopping options. For anyone living in this neighborhood, it is truly a taste of what makes Chicago unique.