Chicagoans call their town a “city of neighborhoods” like other places don’t have them. At times, we take such pride in residing within the city limits that our enclaves become a part of our identities. We’re not just Chicagoans; we’re Rogers Parkers, Logan Squarers, Garfield Parkers.
That said, not all Chicago neighborhoods are, um, real. Particularly in hot markets like West Loop and gentrifying areas like Uptown and Cabrini-Green, real estate execs toss around fictionalized neighborhood names with abandon. Here are a few that drive us up a damn wall.
Three years ago, DNAinfo asked if this name for the high-rises along South Michigan Avenue (peddled by real estate brokers) could stick. And three years later, the answer is still blatantly: no.
River East a.k.a. New Eastside a.k.a. Lakeshore East
These three names all refer to the plot of high-rises at the mouth of the Chicago River, north of Millennium Park and south of Illinois Street. A neighborhood with three interchangeable names doesn’t bode well for the legitimacy of any of them. Another issue: this neighborhood is Streeterville.
I may be in the minority here, but the block bordered by Ashland, Damen, Division, and Chicago is… still Ukrainian Village. More importantly, there’s a certain East Coast city with a rather famous neighborhood of the same name. If you have to say, “No, not that East Village,” your neighborhood might just be fake.
Graceland West, Sheridan Park
Apparently “Uptown” is a dirty word for real estate agents, because apartments in that area are overwhelming listed in these two “neighborhoods.” I take particular issue with Sheridan Park, a residential square flanked by St. Boniface and Graceland cemeteries, for three reasons: it’s an obvious attempt to chic up an historic neighborhood; there’s already a literal, public Sheridan Park in UIC/Little Italy; and it doesn’t even touch Sheridan Road!
While trawling Google Maps for this piece, I came across three words that I, a born-and-bred Lincoln Parker, had never seen before. Mid-North District, folks, is not a thing. It may have a “Wikipedia page,” and “Chicago landmark status,” and “history dating back to the 19th century.” Whatever. It’s Lincoln Park.
West Loop Gate/River West
Ah, that no-man’s land between the Kennedy and the Loop. This patch of high-rises is an easy walk from both downtown and West Loop, but belongs to neither. Also: West Loop Gate? Where’s the gate?
I—I’m sorry? We’ve admittedly played fast and loose with the phrase “gaslit” recently, but anyone who identifies as a Winneconna Parkwayan will have me going full Ingrid Bergman.
…is, allegedly, a block-wide strip of land on the South Side, immediately east of Marquette Park. My qualm here isn’t with the legitimacy of Lithuanian Plaza, but with its size. Does such a small stretch of land really necessitate its own name?
*Slowly shakes head until it unscrews from neck, drifts into space*
This name, short for “North of Chicago Avenue” and proposed by a luxury high rise near Cabrini-Green, lasted all of two weeks before the city sent it packing. The attempt to sexy up the area surrounding Cabrini for young buyers felt deeply un-Chicago, especially since it played on New York’s SoHo.
While we’re at it: those upscale high rises south of North Avenue at Clybourn—“SoNo East”? Not real, either.
OK, we’ll let you in—but you’re on thin ice.