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A Field Guide to

Uptown

This quirky relic of bygone glamour still offers lively eateries and landmark venues with plenty of character.

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Above:Green Mill Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

If Chicago’s neighborhoods could talk, once-regal Uptown might tell the best tales. The intersection of Broadway and Lawrence, for instance, used to be an entertainment epicenter anchored by several opulent theaters—the Aragon, Riviera, and Uptown—that brought in Hollywood’s biggest names. Uptown even had a film studio, and stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and Gloria Swanson lived in the area. Though the old-school glitz has faded, the streets are now lined with eclectic shops and ethnic restaurants (including some of the city’s best pho spots). Look for Uptown to perk up—dare we say, regain some of its splendor—when the CTA wraps up its massive revamp of the Wilson station later this year.

Uptown map
Illustration: Michael A. Hill
See
St. Mary of the Lake
St. Mary of the Lake Photo: Andrew A. Nelles/Chicago Tribune

1. Claude Seymour House

This 12,000-square-foot beauty takes up five—five!—city lots and showcases classic Prairie elements such as horizontal features and ornate stained glass windows.

2. Graceland Cemetery

Famous Chicagoans—among them Ernie Banks, Daniel Burnham, and Roger Ebert—are buried here. Don’t miss the Louis Sullivan–designed Getty Tomb, a designated city landmark built in 1890.

3. Margate Park

Settle in with a book while the kids hit the modern playground, custom-designed with sculptures, mosaics, and interactive art. Bring Fido—there’s a dog park here, too.

4. St. Mary of the Lake Church

Dedicated in 1917, the Renaissance-style church is an amalgamation of three Roman cathedrals, with marbled pillars, coffered ceilings, and stunning paintings.

5. West Argyle Street

This city experiment—a “shared” street that gives equal preference to bikes, cars, and pedestrians—is still working out the kinks. Its shops, bakeries, and Vietnamese eateries are worth a stroll anyway.

Shop

6. Ace Fashion Trading Company

It’s not exactly Michigan Avenue, but if you need a scarf for less than $4 or a string of costume-caliber pearls, look no further.

A stuffed raccoon
Get your taxidermy fix at Woolly Mammoth. Photo: Jacob Watts

7. Nearly New Bikes

Come in with $100, leave with a stylin’ used bike—hello, summertime cruising—that’s been expertly repaired. Hit the ATM first, though: It’s cash only.

8. Notice

This cute family-run shop sells locally made jewelry, gift-worthy candles, and adorable stuffed animals to rival any toy store’s.

9. Qideas

You’ll find everything from live bamboo to waving gold kitties (you know what we mean), plus some crazy good deals on unusual kitchenware.

10. Woolly Mammoth

One man’s creepy is another’s eccentric (yet oddly cool) collection of doll parts, taxidermied squirrels, and vintage surgical tools.

Eat & Drink
Demera
Demera Photo: Patrick E. Fraser

11. 42 Grams

This relative newcomer to fine dining has two Michelin stars thanks to its Charlie Trotter–trained chef, Jake Bickelhaupt.

12. Baker & Nosh

Here’s some karma: The always-packed indie coffee shop serving flaky croissants and rich scones recently took over a former Starbucks.

13. Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Step 1: Order No. 16, a choose-your-own-meat bonanza. Step 2: Wrap it in spongy injera bread. Step 3: Wash it down with Castel, an Ethiopian lager. Step 4: Repeat.

14. Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

Once frequented by Al Capone, this iconic gin joint still reels in the top jazz players in town. The martinis are expertly mixed, and the plush velvet booths are old-school swank in the best way.

15. Uptown Pho

If you’re not feeling the pho (pronounced fuh)—a belly-warming broth teeming with beef, scallions, cilantro, and spice—the banh mi is solid. But seriously: Get the pho.

16. Uptown Underground

You literally have to go underground to find this old-timey “retrotainment”: cabaret, burlesque, magicians, acrobats, and more.

Events

Throughout May:City Lit Theater’s comedy Forty-Two Stories explores the dynamics of a colorful Lake Shore Drive high-rise and its motley crew of residents.

Throughout May:Watch the tale of a legendary chanteuse unfold in Black Ensemble Theater’s Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker.

May 1:At Uptown Underground, the Skivvies play eclectic tunes on the cello and ukulele—in their underwear, naturally.

May 10:Alt-rock heroes the Jesus and Mary Chain bring their feedback-drenched pop and shoegazing angst to the Riviera Theatre.

May 19 to 20:Catch the drumming and elegant jazz of the Dave King Trio at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge.

Did You Know?

The J. Geils Band played the last show at the now-shuttered Uptown Theatre on December 19, 1981.

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (house)
56,400
(14% Hispanic, 52% white, 11% Asian, 20% black)
$40,700 $260,000

Listing of the month

1244 W. Carmen Ave.

1244 W. Carmen Ave.
Photo: Courtesy of David Wong/First Key Realty

Asking price:$528,000

Specs:2,400 square feet, five bedrooms, two bathrooms

Funky in a largely good way, the famed Myron Bachman House is part Quonset hut, part fading eccentricity that just needs a little love to rise again.

NOTE: Median home listing price is from January 2017. SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, Zillow
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