Chicago/Logan-Bucktown

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Introduction

Logan Square is an expansive neighborhood with sweeping boulevards on Chicago's West Side. It shares a wealth of dive bars and cheap rock venues with Bucktown, which becomes a high-fashion destination when close to Wicker Park.

The area now known as Logan Square was born in the boomtown days of the 1830s, when schoolteacher Martin Kimbell rejected a plot in the obviously going-nowhere Loop in favor of good, solid farmland about five miles northwest. The area remained independent from the city until temptations like water and fire departments became too much to resist, and in 1889, Chicago took over. (The streets were upgraded, but they were also renamed — most cruelly, "Kimbell" became "Kimball".)

And if you were a goat farmer in the city around that time, Bucktown was the place to be. You knew that you were in a place that understood the importance of goats, and that any goats you owned would be in good company. As home to farms, factories, and immigrants who were employed by them, Bucktown never developed any major tourist attractions, but it did support plenty of bars for discussions of issues both goat-related and non-goat-related, and that preponderance of cheap bars is still intact.

Logan Square, on the other hand, was named for the Civil War hero Gen. John A. Logan, and its tree-lined boulevards — one of which bears his name — are what really set the neighborhood apart from its neighbors, offering wide-open spaces for leisurely trawls by cars, bikes, and pedestrians alike. (Fittingly, Ignaz Schwinn, founder of the Schwinn bicycle company, settled in Logan Square.) The neighborhood became a destination for immigrants who'd struck it rich in Chicago, and they helped build the beautiful housing stock that survives today, even after the business district collapsed in the 1950s.

It's those magnificent graystones and richly detailed brick classics that draw waves of new residents to Logan Square today. Right now, it's the best of both worlds: murals and community gardens decorate the streets, and new residents kick portions of their salaries to businesses run by older ones, enjoying authentic taquerias on wide, sunny boulevards that are (mostly) rich with gritty, urban character and (generally) safe.

Despite the critical shortage of goats at present, the chameleon-like Bucktown prospers from proximity to Wicker Park, with retail and restaurants that take their cues from the hipster paradise to its south, rough-and-tumble spots that resemble Logan on the other side, and new condos not dissimilar to Lincoln Park to the east. Bucktown is less notable than Logan Square in terms of looks, with a lot of same-y new construction hurried up to meet housing demand, but it also has some great bars and essential music venues with nightly bills of jazz, scuzz and genius.

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Sights and Activities

One of Logan Square's most celebrated features is Logan Boulevard itself, which is lined with century-old, show-of-wealth mansions. For an easy walking tour, start west of the I-90/94 underpass, and walk west to the Illinois Centenary Memorial Column, veering off to walk south on Kedzie for a few more blocks of the same. They're enjoyable by sight alone on a sunny day, but community groups like Logan Square Preservation hold occasional guided tours and garden walks.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2012 W Dickens Ave, ☏ +1-773-486-9590. Su 9AM, 10:45AM. This Presbyterian church is housed in the former Cathedral of All Saints of the Polish National Catholic Church in Chicago. A historic church building, its interior decor is painted in a style imitating Master Cracovian painter Stanisław Wyspiański, while the nave is lined with depictions of the historic crests of Polish cities.
Illinois Centenary Memorial Column, Milwaukee Ave, Logan Blvd, and Kedzie Ave (Logan Square Blue Line). Not a sight to seek out, but it’s hard to miss — this column was erected in 1918 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Illinois’ statehood, and topped with an eagle to show the committee members weren’t messing around. It’s out of step with the rest of the neighborhood now, but hey, only a few more years until it’s time for an update!
John Rath House, 2703 W Logan Blvd. Nestled among the mansions of Logan Boulevard, this 1907 Prairie School house by George Maher makes a nice contrast with its elegant lines and lack of Euro mish-mash.
Palmer Square Park, 3100 W Palmer Blvd (Kedzie Ave, Humboldt Blvd, and Palmer St), ☏ +1-773-227-3535. Designed by William LeBaron Jenney, designer to the (Victorian) stars, and a lovely job at that — with plenty of trees, shade, and green space. When New Belgium brewery brought its Tour de Fat to Chicago in 2008, it chose beautiful Palmer Square.
St. Mary of the Angels, 1850 N Hermitage Ave, ☏ +1-773-278-2644. Masses M-F 7AM & 5:30PM, Sa 8AM &5PM, Su 8AM, 9:30AM Polish, 11AM, 12:30PM Spanish, 7:15PM; church hours M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa 8AM-6:30PM, Su 8AM-8:30PM. One of the city's most beautiful churches, this classic Polish Cathedral is now administered by the priests of the Opus Dei order of Catholicism.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Train

The O'Hare branch of the CTA Blue Line has stops in Bucktown (Damen, Western) and Logan Square (California, Logan Square). It runs all night.

By Car

I-90/94, also known as the Kennedy Expressway, runs close to Logan Square and Bucktown. Diversey Avenue is the main exit for the neighborhood. Street parking is usually not a problem in Logan Square, but check for permit-only parking on side streets — the posted hours are a bit weird, and cops go on ticket binges every once in a while. Logan Boulevard itself usually offers plentiful open parking, though.

By Bus

49 Western runs through Bucktown all night, connecting with the Blue Line at Western and Armitage.
52 Kedzie/California travels on California through both neighborhoods, connecting with the Blue Line at the California station, and on to the Far West Side.
56 Milwaukee is the key route, running from Wicker Park, through Bucktown and Logan Square, and on to the Far Northwest Side. It connects near the Blue Line at Damen, again at California, and again at the Logan Square stop.
82 Kimball runs through Logan Square till midnight, connecting with the Blue Line at the Logan Square stop (Spaulding entrance).

Three buses connect Bucktown with Lincoln Park, Old Town, and the lakefront, not to mention the Red, Purple, and Brown Lines:

72 North runs a quick route between the Brown/Purple (Sedgwick) and Red (North/Clybourn) Lines and the Blue Line (Damen) at the center of the Wicker Park/Bucktown shopping district.
73 Armitage connects with the Blue Line at Western.
74 Fullerton connects with the Blue Line at California.
76 Diversey connects with the Blue Line at Logan Square.

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Eat

Logan Square covers a lot of culinary ground — stray off the beaten path and you'll find places serving Argentinean, Colombian, Cuban, Ecuadorian, El Savadorian, and regional Mexican specialties.

Arturo's Tacos, 2001 N Western Ave (Western Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-772-4944. 24 hours daily. The cheap late-night food of choice among trendy chefs and bar-goers alike in Bucktown, right outside the Blue Line. (Or is it Lazo's? See below.)
El Charro, 2410 N Milwaukee Ave (California Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-278-2514. 24 hours daily. There is no reason to seek out El Charro during the day, but if you're drinking in Logan Square, you need to know where the all-night Mexican food can be found. The soothing aqua walls and the steadfast Ms. Pac-Man machine don't hurt, either.
Lazo's Tacos, 2009 N Western Ave (Western Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-486-3303. 24 hours daily. If you're not one to stay neutral in a hotly-debated issue, you'll want to declare a loyalty between Lazo's and Arturo's for taco supremacy of this street. Both are cheap, but consider carefully: locals take this question very seriously.
Margie's Candies, 1960 N Western Ave (Western Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-384-1035. Su-Th 9AM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-1AM. There's an argument to be made for putting Margie's at the top of the list of things to do and see in this article; thankfully, the Blue Line and two bus lines converge at this holy ice cream shop, founded in 1921. There's diner food as well if you need "dinner" to justify the frenzy. $3-6.
Buono Terra, 2535 N California Ave (California Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-289-3800. Tu-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Great Italian restaurant in Logan Square. $14-20; Thursday night prix fixe dinner for $20.
El Cid, 2645 N Kedzie Ave (Logan Square Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-395-0505. Su-Th 9AM-midnight; F-Sa 9AM-2AM. Pretty good Mexican food in Logan Square. The outdoor seating is especially nice, well away from the street rather like sitting in someone's backyard.
Fat Willy's Rib Shack, 2416 W Schubert Ave, ☏ +1-773-782-1800. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Pulled pork sandwiches and southern-style BBQ in Logan Square. Sandwiches about $10, half-orders of ribs about $16.
Taqueria Moran, 2226 N California Ave (California Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-235-2663. 5AM-10PM daily. Easy to find, this taqueria is roomy and has a bit of old-style diner class, perfect for breakfast chilaquiles and solid for Mexican lunch and dinner standards. $9-17.
Toast, 2046 N Damen Ave (50 Damen or 73 Armitage bus), ☏ +1-773-772-5600. M-F 8AM-3PM, Sa-Su 8AM-4PM. Popular Bucktown brunch spot. There are some clever and unique creations on the menu alongside breakfast standards, best topped with a tall glass of their tasty orange juice. $12-16.
Le Bouchon, 1858 N Damen Ave, ☏ +1-773-862-6600. Lunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner: M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM; Su closed. In Bucktown. Small, funky bistro with a limited but excellent menu of standard French fare. For peak dining hours you will need a reservation. Reasonably priced. Monday is 1/2-price wine night, and on Tuesday the entire menu is prix fixe – your choice of appetizer, main course, and dessert for $22.
Lula Cafe, 2537 N Kedzie Ave (Logan Square Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-489-9554. Su-M,W-Th 9AM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-1AM, Tu closed. A very popular neighborhood restaurant, serving an eclectic mix of new inventions and creatively remixed standards. Because of its popularity, lines can be really long on Friday and Saturday nights. $16-30; Monday Night Farm Dinner $24 per person.

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Drink

Bob Inn, 2609 W Fullerton Ave, ☏ +1-773-342-2309. Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Good place to watch a baseball game with a cheap beer...as long as you're a White Sox fan. Otherwise, it's a good place to relax and wish you were a regular.
The Burlington, 3425 W Fullerton Ave, ☏ +1-773-384-3243. 7PM-2AM daily. This, on the other hand, is definitely a Cubs bar, with plasma screens for the games and lovingly engineered old-man ambiance. When baseball isn't on, music becomes the foremost concern; it's too crowded for a dance floor, but DJs are usually on by 10PM.
Dunlays on the Square, 3137 W Logan Blvd (Logan Square Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-227-2400. Dining room Su 10AM-11PM, M 4:30PM-midnight, Tu-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-1AM, Sa 10AM-1AM; bar Su 10AM-midnight, M 4:30PM-2AM, Tu-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-3AM. Beautiful bar, comfortable booths, good beer & great food (even for the veggies out there).
Green Eye Lounge, 2403 W Homer St (Western Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-227-8851. M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. Just off Western and Milwaukee. The owners of the Green Eye Lounge are experts in the art of the neighborhood bar — see also Lemming's below and the Blind Robin in Ukrainian Village. There's no stress, the beer selection is good, and there are board games.
Lemming's, 1850 N Damen Ave (Damen Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-862-1688. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. Comfortable neighborhood bar with local art to be seen and games (board & video) to be played. Look for the "Lemming's" sign by day and the "Schlitz" by night.
The Map Room, 1949 N Hoyne Ave, ☏ +1-773-252-7636. M-F 6:30AM-2AM, Sa 7:30AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Their motto is "Don't be lost," but you may as well give in to their disorienting collection of exotic beers. Their tap selection is one of the more extensive in the city, with surprises for even the most jaded beer drinker: extensive draught and bottle menu, including a cask-conditioned selection, but occasionally unfriendly management.
Revolution Brewing, 2323 N Milwaukee Ave (California Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-227-2739. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa-Su 10AM-2AM. If you're a fan of craft beers and the art of brewing, this is a must visit. Owned and operated by a team of experienced local brewers, Revolution has 25 original beers on tap with seasonal additions throughout the year. There's a pretty good brunch menu as well.
The Rocking Horse, 2535 N Milwaukee Ave (Logan Square Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-486-0011. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 10AM-2AM. Has a darker, a little bit punk, cozy-ish feel with great drinks and nice beer on tap. Yummy apps and decent price.
Two Way Lounge, 2988 W Fullerton Ave (California Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-227-5676. An exemplary dive bar in the fine tradition of such; cheap beer, wood-paneled walls, and regulars who are settled in for the night and have been for the last couple of decades. With the changing demographics of the area, it's possible that hipsters might outnumber the men with more tenured mustaches on any given night, but it's still a fine neighborhood dive.
Whirlaway Lounge, 3224 W Fullerton Ave, ☏ +1-773-276-6809. Su-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM. Whirlaway is run by the much-adored Maria, with decor that makes you feel as though you're drinking in the basement of Logan Square's collective unconsciousness's dad's house. (In less abstract terms, that's cheap beer, free popcorn, close quarters, and rock on the jukebox.)
Charleston, 2076 N Hoyne Ave, ☏ +1-773-489-4757. M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa-Su 2PM-2AM. An old-time Bucktown joint with a big selection of reasonably priced beer and an impressive antique wood bar. There's a Jazz Jam every Tuesday night, and rock/folk/jazz shows most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Cole's, 2338 N Milwaukee Ave, ☏ +1-773-276-5802. M-F 5:30PM-2AM, Sa 3:30PM-3AM, Su 4PM-2AM. Laid-back neighborhood bar with a good selection of microbrews and free local music events scattered throughout the week.
Danny's Tavern, 1951 W Dickens Ave, ☏ +1-773-489-6457. Su-F 7PM-2AM, Sa 7PM-3AM. This is a good place to dance for most of the week, thanks to a talented group of DJs who spin pop, hip-hop, jazz and soul (including the occasional all-Smiths night).
The Mutiny, 2428 N Western Ave (Western Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-486-7774. M 1PM-2AM, Tu-F,Su 11AM-2AM, Sa 9AM-3AM. A cavernous dive that hosts a lot of three/four band punk and rock shows, with occasional comedy nights as well. Check out the ceiling tiles painted by regulars. No cover, even for bands, and the frosty pitchers of beer are cheap.
Quenchers Saloon, 2401 N Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-276-9730. Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. 200 different beers from around the world, 60 different whiskeys, and a decent bar menu. Everyone drinks together at this comfortable neighborhood bar. There's live music every night except Sunday, mostly jazz with some rock and DJs on the weekends.
Rosa's Lounge, 3420 W Armitage Ave (82 Kimball bus), ☏ +1-773-342-0452. Doors open 8PM; Shows Tu,Th,F 9:30PM, Sa 10PM. Live blues since 1984, with a laid-back vibe and authentic feel that makes it a must for any visiting blues fan. Save some time for checking out the walls, covered in blues history. Most shows $7-20.

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Sleep

If you're only here for a show and the options in Wicker Park are too steep, you could commute from the hotel cluster by O'Hare Airport on the Blue Line.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 10:23 on Sep 24, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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