Known for decades as “East Ukrainian Village”, the neighborhood now goes by East Village.
What can you say? The area has changed so much in recent years, a change was in order. The neighborhood has attracted many new residents with its hip restaurants, new development, and great location between Wicker Park and the Loop. And, with the nearby CTA Blue Line, getting around the city is a breeze!
East Village Neighborhood Guide
East Village has found a nice balance between a commercial district and a residential area. While the inner part of the neighborhood is mostly residential, the area is surrounded by bustling commercial streets. Compared to its neighbor, Wicker Park, East Village is something of a hidden gem. On the whole, the local businesses favor risk-taking over conformity, making the area a dream for a curious resident.
East Village’s dining scene is as diverse as it is delicious. Local love Kai Zan, one of Chicago’s absolute best sushi restaurants. For family-friendly Mexican, check out Carbon. Another favorite, Ruxbin, specializes in dishes from across the globe. Black Dog Gelato is a great local dessert option. The area also has some cozy local bars, including Gold Star, Happy Village, and Rainbo Club.
East Village Shopping
The shopping scene is dominated by niche shops and clothing boutiques. Great stores include RR#1, a great store with eclectic wares great for gifts, Sir & Madame, a stylish clothes boutique for men and women. Music lovers will appreciate Permanent Records, with vinyl records and a knowledgeable staff. East Village is also a player in the art scene–galleries in the area include Vertical Gallery and Corbett vs. Dempsey.
Living in East Village puts you at the center of West Town’s thriving cultural scene. Within walking distance, you will find some of Chicago’s finest music venues, museums, art galleries, and festivals.
Just to the west in Ukrainian Village, the Empty Bottle is a nexus for touring and local indie bands. To the north, Wicker Park is host to the Wicker Park Fest. The festival, featuring renowned bands, artist’s booths, and great food, has been recognized by the Chicago Tribune as the premiere street fest in the city. And those looking to explore the area’s Ukrainian roots should check out the excellent Ukrainian National Museum and the Ukrainian Museum of Modern Art.
Parks and Recreation
East Village, while it isn’t known for its parks, has a few hidden gems. One of these is Eckhart Park, a small park that manages to pack in a whole lot into its 9 acres. In its fieldhouse, the park offers an indoor swimming pool, two gymnasiums, and a fitness center, Outside, the park features baseball diamonds, an athletic field for football and soccer, and a community garden outside. Another is Commercial Club Playground Park, with a fieldhouse, outdoor sports fields, and a beloved playground. In the summer, residents love exploring Chicago’s lakefront parks and beaches.
East Village History
Becoming East Village
East Village was first settled in the 1830s by German- and Polish-Americans. After the Chicago Fire of 1871, the area experienced its first building boom as many relocated away from devastated areas. In the late 1800s, many Ukrainians came to the area. Drawn to the area by familiar Polish residents, they soon transformed the area into dense blocks of two- and three-flats, frame cottages, and towering cathedrals.
The construction of the Kennedy Expressway forever changed the landscape. The new highway divided the Polish and Ukrainian communities and spurred many to move to the suburbs. The area became the landing place for many Puerto Ricans and others displaced by urban renewal in Old Town and Lincoln Park. The western section of the area (today’s Ukrainian Village) remained middle-class due to Ukrainian institutions, the eastern section experienced a trying period.
East Village Today
From the 1980s on, the neighborhood has experienced a stunning transformation. From Ukrainian roots, now long-term residents and new arrivals create a vibrant blend. Look around and its historic roots are evident, but new development and businesses are changing the landscape. Today, the area is a thriving residential area with historic and renovated housing sharing tree-lined blocks with new construction.
East Village Homes
For renters or buyers, East Village offers a variety of housing options. Reflecting the area’s history, one will find a number of cottages in the area. Other options include historic two- and three-flat greystones, larger single-family homes, and a number of recently built condominium buildings and townhomes. With a low-key vibe, lovely homes, and great shopping and dining, East Village is a great place to place your Chicago roots. Come check it out!