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Chicago has many interesting neighborhoods for visitors to explore. Among the most interesting is Old Town on the near north side of the city. Old Town has many Victorian buildings that are of architectural and historic interest. The area has always had a vibrant atmosphere with many activities for visitors to enjoy.
In the early days, Old Town was bordered by North Avenue, Clark Street, and Ogden Avenue. Today, its boundaries are marked by Armitage Avenue, Division Street, Clark Street to the east, and Larrabee Street to the west. It is just north of the city’s downtown area.
The Old Town section of Chicago began as a neighborhood of German-Catholic immigrants who settled in the city in the 1800s. The area got its name from the days of World War II, when it was designated a civil defense unit. After the war, the cohesion of the community remained, and they began holding annual fairs called the “Old Town Holiday.” The name stuck and remains to this day. The Old Town area in Chicago has seen a number of incarnations over the years. Many of the buildings were destroyed during the Chicago Fire in 1871. In their place, Victorian homes and working-class arose. The area has experienced a number of incarnations. In the 1950s, it was home to the immigrant Puerto Rican population. During the 1960s, the hippie culture came to the area. Folk music reigned during the late 60s and 70s. It was then home to the city’s gay population. Gentrification came to the area during the 2000s.
Old Town has been the home of live theater for many years. The Second City improvisational theater has entertained million of residents and visitors to the city over the years. A number of small theaters provide the live theater experience, featuring both avant-garde and classic works.
Old Town has always had a variety of restaurants to choose from to satisfy Chicagoans discerning tastes. Ethnic restaurants of many kinds have found their home in Old Town, as well as steak houses, fondue restaurants and simple, tasty neighborhood grills. Though the names and ambiances may change, visitors can always find interesting cuisine in the Old Town area.
The area has seen the rise and fall and many different music styles over the years. The Old Town School of Folk Music has been located in Old Town since the early 1960s. It was home to many rock and roll clubs over the years. Jazz and blues are also popular in this area.
Old Town is home to one of the country oldest art fairs. It began in 1950 as an open exhibition featuring both amateur and professional artists. However, by 1958, a committee was formed to choose the best work in a variety of genres. Today, 250 artists participate in the fair that includes live entertainment and a Garden Walk tour of the historic homes.