Ryan Wallenfang

Lincoln Square Neighborhood History

Ryan Wallenfang

Long before the intersection at Lawrence Avenue and Western Avenue was called the Lincoln Square Neighborhood, the area was mostly tranquil hardwood forest and lush green pasture land. Horse-drawn carts carried sleepy workers up a sandy path that was Western Avenue. It was the outskirts of Chicago where people would camp in the forest as immigrants found work in pickle and onion fields or tended livestock on the farms. After the Chicago fire, strict building codes forbade the construction of wood-frame homes within the city limits. So, people moved to the less congested, green acreage North and West of the city’s center. Many of them German immigrants, they built less expensive wood structures in what became the Budlong Woods Neighborhood, and the Ravenswood Neighborhood. In 1923, when the area’s growing prosperity gained the attention of the city, it was annexed and given the Lincoln Square Neighborhood name. In time, the plodding horse-drawn carts would be replaced by swift streetcars running up Western Avenue and in 1907 the clamor of the Elevated train brought the masses to a bustling business district with a bank, commercial cleaners, clothing stores and other shops. Backers of the “L,” in customary Chicago fashion, bought up large plots of land as traffic on the new train reached 10,000 riders per day and the building boom was on.Today, the area is still fairly wooded and speckled with some of the best examples of vintage-Victorian structures in the city and Lincoln Square new construction quickly fills the space of the unkempt property. Condominium dwellers also get a little more for their money in Lincoln Square, as they move, like so many before them, to the greenery and away from the more congested city’s center.

More on the rich history of Lincoln Square.

February 26, 2007 3:15 pm • In: The Agent's Perspective

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