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North Avenue or The 606? Readers Weigh in on Bucktown, Wicker Park Borders

By Alisa Hauser | September 4, 2015 9:38am
 A sidewalk engraving marking both neighborhoods.
A sidewalk engraving marking both neighborhoods.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Do you know where Wicker Park ends and Bucktown begins, or vice versa?

Last month, DNAinfo Chicago launched an interactive Web app to find out where our readers think are each neighborhood's true boundaries are. About 560 people participated in the challenge to draw Wicker Park and Bucktown's borders.

Based on crowd-sourced lines, North Avenue or The 606's Bloomingdale Avenues are the majority's top two choices for Wicker Park's northern border. 

Most Bucktown map artists consider North Avenue to be Bucktown's southern border but lines were also dark at The 606's Bloomingdale Trail along Bloomingdale Avenue and at Armitage Avenue.

Wicker Park borders, as drawn by several hundred readers. [DNAinfo Chicago/Readers]

Bucktown borders, as drawn by several hundred readers. [DNAinfo Chicago/Readers]

Wicker Park's western border appears to be Western Avenue, while Bucktown's western border also seems to be Western, but a fair amount of folks also consider California Avenue as Bucktown's western end.

Division Street is the crowd choice for the southern border of Wicker Park. 

Most see Fullerton Avenue as Bucktown's northern border.

Opinions appear to be evenly split on Wicker Park's eastern border either being Ashland Avenue or the Chicago River. 

The Bucktown Community Organization has defined Bucktown's southern border as North Avenue since 1974 when the neighborhood group was chartered, said Steve Jensen, the group's president.

"We've been sharing the area between Bloomingdale and North Avenue [with Wicker Park] for some time now. We recognize our border and they recognize theirs," Jensen said.

But members of the Wicker Park Committee say that Wicker Park continues two blocks north of North Avenue to The 606's Bloomingdale Trial.

Teddy Varndell, a Wicker Park resident, calls the two block stretches of Damen and Milwaukee Avenues in the 1600 to 1700 blocks extending north to the Bloomingdale Trail "Bucktopia."

New businesses along those two blocks often market themselves as being in Bucktown rather than Wicker Park, a practice that Cyril Landise, co-owner of the Northside Bar & Grill at 1635 N. Damen Ave., says is driven by marketing.

"We had a big resurgence in the 70s for Wicker Park and then the crash hit and in the 80s the Bucktown boom happened," said Landise, who takes a more diplomatic approach and considers his neighborhood tavern to be in both neighborhoods.

A plaque at the door of Northside, which was founded in 1982 along Webster Avenue and moved to Damen Avenue in 1990, touts it as "a Wicker Park-Bucktown Original."

"We call it an all-man's land," Landise said. 

Erik Harmon, president of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce said his group, which has 330 members from the business community, does not have official stance on the two neighborhood's borders.

"I’m aware that different groups have differing opinions on the matter. Our Chamber’s focus is on serving the Wicker Park and Bucktown communities. We consider our service area to include Division St. to Fullerton St., Western Ave to the river," Harmon said.

To augment our Internet-based mapping tool, we stood In Real Life (IRL) in the 1600 block of North Damen, just north of North Avenue and polled random people.

"Where do you think we are standing, in Wicker Park or in Bucktown?," we asked six people while standing in front of TOM'S Shoes, 1611 N. Damen.

Passers-by just north of North Avenue on Damen weigh in on where they are standing.

Passers-by just north of North Avenue on Damen weigh in on where they are standing.

The city is officially divided into 77 community areas, but those areas don't represent some of the city's neighborhoods, including Bucktown and Wicker Park, which both fall under the Logan Square community area).

The 1700 and 1600 blocks of Damen Avenue, looking south from atop The 606 [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Cyril Landise, co-owner of Northside Bar & Grill. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]


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