A Squared: City Walks #35 & #36: Wicker Park

Thursday, June 21, 2012

City Walks #35 & #36: Wicker Park

This is a City Walk that I have been anxious to take on for a while.  Wicker Park is a little off the beaten path for us and it is one of those neighborhoods that we really don't spend a lot of time in.  There are tons of cool bars and restaurants in Wicker Park that we've been told we have to try so this was a great way to take some time to figure out where everything in this neighborhood is located.  We encountered some surprises along the way, but I am now much less intimidated by this part of town.

City Walk #35: Wicker Park to Bucktown

This City Walk took us up Damen Ave., the main drag through Wicker Park that leads into the Bucktown neighborhood.  The street is totally crowded with fun boutiques, cute restaurants, and trendy bars.  It's a place where I need to spend more time, clearly.

Our first stop kind of set the tone for the whole City Walk.  When we approached #1623 (1) we found that Jolie Joli is now a Nanette Lepore boutique.  Right on the heels of that was #1639 (2) a luxury space for lease formerly known as Embelezar.  We arrived at the corner of Damen and Wabansia, #1657 (3) to find that Daffodil Hill is now a boutique called Riley.  Do you see where I am going with this?

 At this point we were 3 for 3 on retailers that no longer exist, which is impressive considering that the City Deck is less than 2 years old.  The streak continued as we arrived at #1702 (4) to see that the gift shop Climate is now a spa called Ener.  Finally, we spotted Pagoda Red at #1714 (5) and it was still there and looking very Asian and cool.  At last!  #1721 Caffe De Luca (6) also appeared to exist, but whether or not it is still open for business is debatable.  Things looked awfully quiet over there.

Our luck finally seemed to be turning around as we found two very cool boutiques: #1723 Stitch (7) and #1735 Clothes Minded (8) are both alive, kicking, and selling some great clothes.  However, when we found Raizy at #1944 (9) we found that it is now the new location for TipsyCake, one of the bakeries that we checked out for our wedding cake.

 Not surprisingly, when we ventured further up Damen to look for Vermillion at #1944 (10) it was sad and vacant.  We did end up finishing the Walk with a bang though-- the sex shop G-Boutique was still open (and very pink!) at #2131 N. Damen (11).  Kind of amazing that in two years, more than half of these stores have already turned over, isn't it?

#36: Wicker Park Historic Neighborhood

After our disappointing walk up Damen Ave. it was nice to see a part of Wicker Park that hasn't seen a whole lot of change over the past century, let alone year.  This was a great little tour of some of the historical homes in Wicker Park that were built back when the neighborhood was a destination for German and Scandinavian immigrants.  I had always been under the impression that the homes in Wicker Park were either new and nice or old and a little dumpy, so this tour was quite the surprise.  I fell in love with these cool old gingerbread-looking homes!

The first homes on the Walk were located on W. Caton St., a cute little treelined street between Milwaukee and N. Leavitt.  #2138 (1) had some very cool detailing on the porch and #2146 (2) was probably my favorite-- from the stone details to the arches to the stained glass details it was really beautiful.  #2150 (3) had a huge facade of stone, but was still very ornate with a gorgeous arched front entry.

Across the street, #2150 (4) was a little boxier in appearance than the rest of these very whimsical houses, but it certainly didn't lack in attention to detail.  We left W. Caton St. and made our way down W. Pierce Ave. where we saw another one of my favorite homes from this Walk.  I don't think the photo really does it justice, but #2137 (5) had intricate ornamentation all over it and each piece was painted in a fun bright color.  It reminded me a little bit of a cuckoo clock.  And finally, we arrived at #1521 N. Hoyne (6) to find a beautiful Victorian house with metal detailing.

I mean, seriously?  Did you know that there were houses this beautiful tucked away on the side streets of Wicker Park?  I did not and I am so glad we discovered them!


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