On our walking tour of the Noble Square and Wicker Park neighborhoods, we will explore the past and present of the people, architecture, and foods of these vibrant and very much changing communities. Studied by sociologists around the world for its rapid transformation in the '80s and '90s, the Wicker Park neighborhood had previously been home to gang bangers, drug addicts and prostitutes. Today it is often ranked in lists of "Coolest Neighborhoods" in America, and now neighboring Ukrainian Village and Noble Square are going the same direction, too.
The Chicago Detours kind of food tour means that beyond just eating, we are going to really learn. To have a more meaningful connection with the places we visit, stories on this walking tour range from the voyage of Polish immigrants to the "bard of the down-and-outer" of Nelson Algren, to the "Die Yuppie Scum" graffiti of gentrification.
Our walking tour starts at the former "Polish Broadway" with a visit inside a stunning Polish Catholic Church, filled with paintings, gold leaf details, and sweeping arches. Our walk around the neighborhood reveals clues to incredible contrasts of old and new, like a taqueria in a building from a 1930s hamburger joint or one of Chicago's last newspaper stands. Over a huitlacoche quesadilla with home-made tortillas, we consider Mexican immigration to Chicago and Ashland Avenue's "taco row." Then we sample home-style Polish food in a restaurant that feels just like going to visit your Polish grandmother.
We take the CTA up to the Damen stop to stroll through the blooming park of Wicker Park (guests bring their own train cards). In this vibrant park we begin to see the neighborhood mix of people, before wandering down "Beer Baron Row" to see massive 19th century mansions. For this Wicker Park walking tour, you'll hear the history of the Turkish Baths, which often peeks interest from Blue Line riders. We'll consume the new school vibe of the hip neighborhood with a gourmet doughnut from Stan's Donuts. And our tour concludes by the massive gears of a bank vault, now a Walgreen's Pharmacy.
Step inside a dazzling Catholic Church
Walk by Gilded Age Mansions on "Beer Baron Row"
Eat Polish Food Like Grandma Used to Make
See Writer Nelson Algren's home
Step Inside a Bank Vault, Now a Pharmacy
Old Polonia, aka "Polish Downtown"
What Old Wicker Park Was Like
Mexican Immigration to Chicago
The '90s Gentrification of Wicker Park
Inevitability of Change in Neighborhoods
Expert guide commentary
Tastings at top-rated establishments:
CTA train fare - you must bring your own Ventra card for one train ride
Walking Distance: 1.2 miles.
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