The Chicago Uptown Neighborhood Area


by Charles McShan




Hello everyone, the above photo was taken when the weather was hot. Now, it is the Fall season in the city of Chicago. Although summer is gone, the coronavirus is still hanging around, ready to take us into the second year of this deadly madness. This neighborhood report is about the Chicago Uptown Neighborhood area. The word Uptown means different things to different locations. For example, in New York City, if you say you are going to Uptown, that usually means you are going North of Downtown Manhattan towards 59 street and above.

The Chicago Uptown neighborhood area community is on the Northside of the city bordering the shores of Lake Michigan. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Uptown neighborhood area was the place to be at night. In a three-block area, you had the Rivera and Arrogon theaters,  the Green Mill nightclub, and a host of bars and eateries to make your night complete. Unfortunately, the coronavirus quarantine earlier this year closed this area down. Today these businesses are 100% open back open, and business is booming. More on that later. In this blog post, we will explore the Chicago Uptown neighborhood area from its historical roots right up until today. So let’s get this show on the road.

The History of the Chicago Uptown Neighborhood Area.

In my last neighborhood report, we learned about the Edgewater community. If you wish to reread that article, please click here. At one time, the Uptown area was once part of the Edgewater community. Uptown got its name from the intersection of Lawrence and Broadway Avenues. Historical records claimed that Loren petitioned the city officials to name the area  Uptown Square and from there, the name took hold of the entire. The past was good to the Uptown community area promoted shopping stores such as Loren Miller department store who later changed their names to Goldblatt’s. I remember shopping in that store early in my youth. Historical records also say that the thousands flocked masses to the People’s church and the Essany Studios make Uptown the center of the American film industry. Also, luxury hotels lined Kenmore and Winthrop Avenues, so back in the early 1900s and the roaring 20s, Uptown was indeed the place to be and be seen.

But as they say, what goes up must also come down, and that is what happened to the standard of living in the Uptown area. . It started with the great depression and carried on right into World War Two. The larger luxury apartments were converted into smaller units to attract low-income tenants. Some landlords started neglecting their properties and lowering their rents, making Uptown accessible to new immigrants and the Chicago poor. Chicago was back then and now a gang-infested city and the Uptown area had its fair share. During the ’50s, Uptown became hillbilly heaven and a refuge place for the American Indians. By the 1970’s Uptownwas also the dumping ground for recently released mental patients to the halfway homes sprouting up in the areas. The building of Truman College also displaced hundreds of middle-class residents.

By the 1980s, people living in the northern part of Uptown decided they had enough of this and started a series of movements to distance themselves from the Southern part of the area. They rediscovered the name Edgewater, and in 1980 they were able to have Edgewater declared a different neighborhood. The Buena Park and Sheridan Park are now recognized as historic landmark districts. Uptown became known as an area of diversity and a place that had lost its past glamor. The new boundaries after the separation from the Edgewater area were now officially Foster avenue to the North. Lake Michigan to the East, Irving Park to the South. The Western boundary is Clark street running Northwest to Montrose, west on Montrose to Ravenswood, and North on Ravenswood to Foster avenue.

During this time, Uptown, like the majority of Chicago today, had its challenges. If you lived there, you had to deal with it. I moved from The Englewood area to Rogers Park in the 1980s, and I frequented the Uptown area a lot. I have my war stories. An article published by ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson in the 1980s talked about everyday life In Uptown from her eyesight when she was young growing up in the area. If you wish to read it, please click this button>   Click this link.

While gang wars continued in the 1990s, urban renewal slowly started replacing dilapidated buildings with new apartments, and yes, the condominiums were coming onto the market. In time the housing development caught on, and the Uptown area underwent a massive makeover. Gangbangers moved out, the crime rate dropped. And Yuppies moved in, paying higher rent and mortgages, and this increased the neighborhood’s value. As a result, today, most Uptown does not look as it did in the 80s or 90s. The only thing remaining the same are the old elevated train trestles of the  CTA Redline, which used to be called the Englewood-A- Jackson Park-B- Howard line. That concludes the history lesson for the Chicago Uptown area.

What are the local areas within this community?

The Uptown area is quite large, and unofficially it has eight local neighborhoods

1: Andersonville

The majority of Andersonville’s nightlife is located in the Edgewater area North of Foster. Still, the nightlife continues its bars and restaurants in the South of Foster. The rest of the site consists of 2-4 Flat apartments and condo buildings, a few homes, and numerous businesses stretching down to Lawrence avenue. To the South Ravenswood to the West and Glenwood to the East.


Stretching from Glenwood ave. to the lakefront, The Argyle area is a mixture of fine luxury homes, apartment and condo buildings, along with a variety of perfectly maintained 2-4 flat facilities. This area is part of the historic district of Uptown. It is called The New Chinatown, Little Saigon, and little Vietnam. The above phots so the Entrance to Chinatown, complete with a sign highlighting Argle street. The second photo is looking East On Argyle towards the CTA red line station. The Cta Argyle street station welcomes visitors and residents alike at Argyle Street and Broadway. Located within this area is the Essanay building. As I mentioned earlier, this building back in 1907 housed one of the largest movie studios in the country. The residential hotels were now converted into apartment buildings. There are many 2-4 flats on the side streets. Broadway Street area is where all the eateries are located along with ma and pa stores and the Chinese style warehouse-like stores

3: Buena Park

This area makes up the Southeast corner of Uptown, and it stretches from Montrose ave to the shores of Lake Michigan, South to Irving Park, and West to Kenmore or Graceland Cemetery. In this historic area, you will find substantial single-family homes complete with huge lawns. Architects of an era long gone designed these beautiful homes. The ones that did not survive were on what is now called on Marine Drive because modern-day high rises and Walt Disney Magnet school dominate that street. Speaking of that school, both of my sons graduated from Disney Magnet. The other main street is Clarendon, and there are many high rises and a few single-family homes on that block. Broadway has its fair share of apartment buildings, condos, and businesses. This is one densely packed area with a lot of vehicular traffic, especially when there is a Chicago Cubs baseball game. As mentioned earlier, Buena Park was once a terrible area infested with gangs. Today it is on the National Register of Historic places in 1984. This area had many beautiful buildings that resembled palaces in their day. Sadly the majority are gone.  As they say, Real Estate is constantly changing. The old gets either remodeled or torn down and replaced with something new

4: Clarendon Park and Margate Park

This part of Uptown is known for its park space, beaches, and of course, Lake Michigan. This area is also known for its many architectural building types and history. It is also here that the high rises and dense multiple courtyard buildings come to an end. The focus area is Montrose Beach and Montrose harbor. This beach also has a beach area for dogs. Clarendon Park surrounds the Clarendon Park field house. But, let us not forget Montrose beach. We will come back to the beach in a minute.

5: Graceland West

It was said that Uptown might not come into existence if it wasn’t for the Graceland Cemetery. People would come here to bury their dead loved ones and then decide to stay and build Victorian-style dwellings surrounded by park-like atmospheres complete with native plants. Adding Historical Chicago figure statues and architectural grandeur drew in the tourists and residents alike. Ashland ave borders this small area to the west, Montrose to the North Irving Park to the South, and Clark street to the East. Here you will find plenty of apartment buildings and large single-family homes, and even larger Victorian mansions sometimes side by side.

6: Sheridan Park

Sheridan Park was one of the areas that suffered in the l20th century—bounded by Clark to the west, Montrose to the South, Racine to the East, and Lawrence to the North. Here you will find single-family homes, smaller apartment buildings with more significant apartment hotel-style buildings side by side packed together. This area was one of the densest in the city of Chicago, and then the bottom fell out. Landlords started converting their large apartments into smaller units or single room occupancy or SROs.By the 60s, most of the SEOs were located in Sheridan Park, and by the 1980s, there were abandoned structures. By 1985 the Sheridan Park Historic District was created. Their mission was to reinvent the area thru historic legislation. This bought about a blueprint that they would use in Sheridan Park and other parts of Uptown. This officially ushered in gentrification into those areas. This, of course, put them on a collision course with forces opposed to gentrification, but the site has benefited from gentrification with better homes with increased home values and taxes being paid on those homes. The battle between the two forces continues today.




8: Uptown Square!


This is where the Uptown area got its name. The above photo is The flatiron shape of the well-known Bridgeview Bank. The Bank anchors the Uptown square intersection of Broadway and Lawrence ave. This intersection is the heartbeat of the area. Once there were many Grand Spanish theatres,terra-clad office buildings, and Art Deco and Gothic hotels. This area was centered on the CTA rail transportation station located at Wilson Ave. That was a different area; sadly, the majority of those buildings are gone. Some of the survivors are the Lawrence House, The McJunkin Building, the Wilson Avenue Theatre, and the Lakeside Theater building. The three remaining well-known buildings are The Rivera, the Aragon Ballroom, and the Uptown theatre. I will talk about those 3 in a few paragraphs below. Let’s conclude with the final neighborhood in this area.

8: East Ravenswood

This area borders Lawrence Avenue to the North, Clark street to the East, Montrose to the South, and Ravenswood Avenue to the West. There are new condo high rises that go along with the vintage ones. There are 100-year-old Victorian homes side by side with vintage-style courtyard buildings. The  CTA Brown elevated line, as oldtimers know, was once called the Ravenswood line. It went thru the heart and soul of this area, transporting people to and from work, school and play. Is this area part of Uptown or Lincoln Square? I leave that to the debaters.

9: Within this area are two massive cemeteries. We talked about The Graceland Cemetery located between Montrose and Irving Park. The St.Bonface Catholic Cemetery is located on the Northside of Lawrence avenue between Broadway and Clark street.

Public Transportation!

The Uptown area has excellent public transportation. The East-West streets of Foster, Lawrence, Montrose, and a part of Wilson Avenues have fast, frequent CTA bus service. The North-South main streets of Clark, Broadway, and Sherdian road have regular bus services to the downtown areas. The CTA  also has two express bus routes that offer service via Lake Shore drive, or I should now say Dusable Lake Shore drive to downtown into the late hours of the night. There are also three or more part-time routes that do the express service but only operate in the rush hour in a one-directional mode of taking people to work in the morning and bringing them home in the evening. The CTA elevated line for over a100 years has always been the primary source of transportation in the Uptown area. But upgrades have been slowly taking place.

The elevated structure from Irving Park to Wilson has been in a constant change of rehabilitation. The Willson Ave yard was destroyed by fire, but in its place, they constructed a new Wilson Avenue superstation along with a Target retail store. Earlier this year, the concrete embankment portion of the line running from Lawrence to Howard street was being torn down and completely rebuilt piece by piece. This will be a 2 to a 3-year project, and as of this writing, the Lawrence, Berwyn, and Byrn Mawr ave stations have been closed and torn down. CTA buses are detouring their riders to either Wilson ave or The Byrn Mawr avenue temporary station. In time the Argyle Chinatown station will also close for rebuilding. On the western boundaries of the neighborhood, you can board the  CTA Brown Line service at Montrose or in the Lincoln Square area at Damen and Lawrence ave.

For Metra riders, you can catch commuter rail service to downtown at Lawrence and Ravenswood Ave. Metra is in the process of raising their overpasses, and they have completely rebuilt their Uptown/ Lincoln Square rail station. This line also travels Northwards out of the city and stops at various North shore towns to Kenknowsa, Wisconsin. For bike riders, the city has installed numerous bike lanes in the area and will continue to do so in the future. Taxicab service is not what it used to be, but they are still available along with—limousine service.  Uber and Lyft now dominate the transportation market. Automobile parking is tight, and you will be ticketed if you do not feed the meters.

Shopping And Businesses!

The main streets of Uptown are Clark street, Broadway, Sheridan road, Foster, Lawrence, Wilson, Montrose, and the Northside of Irving Park. Each one of these ain busy streets has shopping. Grocery stores include the Jewel Grocery store chain, Marinos, Aldines, Target, plus a whole host of secondary food stores selling mainstream and ethnic foods of all kinds. The Argyle Chinatown district has plenty of grocery stores, big and small, selling everything, including herbs and spices. Many resale shops specialize in selling furniture and clothing at reduced prices. Staples is the only official computer and electronic store left in the area. For those who love purchasing items from wholesale stores, there are a group of stores operating on Clark Street between Montrose and Lawrence. Lawrence ave from Ravenswood ave to Sheridan road is home to small business shops of all types. If you cannot find what you are looking for on Lawrence ave, try Sheridan Road, Montrose, and Wilson ave.



This photo is of the National Car Wash located at 4900 N.Broadway.This business has always been a part of my life. When I moved onto the Northside in the 1980s, I owned a 1974 Buick Electra 225. It was red-colored with red velvet seats. I first came upon this car wash by chance. Back then, the line to enter this wash was over three blocks long; cabs, limos, and everyone else wanted to get their clean. They would steam clean your motor and detail the inside of your car, along with cleaning your tires and wheels. I have personally washed my private and commercial vehicles here hundreds of times. One guy, in particular, worked at this car wash. His name was Curtis. He was an ex-marine Green Beret. For decades I had many conversations with him on various subjects from his kids to everyday life. I haven’t seen him in years. I do not know if he is still with us, but we are in our advancing years like me. If he is still around, I wish him well. Today there are no long lines. Various political leaders in the past tried to shut this car wash down, but the owner prevailed. I wish everyone well there. If you live in the area, I am sure you cleaned your car there at least one time. Maybe you had good things to say about the business, or maybe you had bad things to say.

Eating Out!

If you are looking for places to eat, you will be in the right spot. From Andersonville on Clark street. Lawrence Avenue, Montrose, Broadway, and Sheridan, you will find all sorts of fast food places, pizzerias, and, yes, excellent ethnic restaurants.  There was a Thai restaurant that I love to go to and buy Pad Thai on Broadway across from the CTA Wilson station, but they are gone. So I will only name the ones I have personally known are open. Below is a  brief list

1:There is the Pancake House located next to the Rivera Theatre on  Broadway South of Lawrence. They serve pancakes in many different ways.

2: The Green Mill, this well-known establishment, will survive no matter what happens in the city. They are located on Broadway, just north of Lawrence Ave.

3: Let’s stay on this corner. There is the Broadway Grill and Chicken. The chicken is excellent, and they also serve a great breakfast.

4:Next to the Green Mill, you will find the Fiesta Mexicana. The name says it all

5: If you are in the area and desire Ethiopian food, may I suggest Demer Restaurant, located on the corner of Lawrence and Broadway.

6:Next to the closed Uptown theatre is the TSO Szechuan Bar and Restaurant.

7:Next to TSO is the Fat Cat, a well-known establishment for food and good music.

8: Across the street from TSO is the Silver Seafood restaurant located at 4827 N.Broadway.

9:If you love eating duck, I suggest you go a few blocks North to SunWah, located at 5039-41 Broadway. This place is located in the heart of The Argyle Chinatown district, and there are plenty of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thailand restaurants to satisfy your hunger. Just Google the area to find the restaurant of your choice.

10:Jakes Pup in the Ruf located at 4401 N.Sherdian Road. Their menu is extensive; they are known for their Breakfast and             Chicken dishes along with Mexican corn.

11: Every neighborhood has a Taco restaurant that rates number one. For the Uptown area, my favorite place is Taqueria                Primo Chuki’s, located at1708 W.Lawrence.

12:The Golden Nuggets, located at 1765 W.Lawrence, is my favorite place for breakfast and lunch dishes. I love their pancakes.

Let us not forget that Uptown is the proud host of Windy City Ribfest and the Taste of Uptown. Both events will be back when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.

Schools within the Uptown area!

There are seven elementary public schools along with Walt Disney magnet school. Then, there were three, but now only 2 Catholic schools are still open. The high schools are Uplift Community High school, Senn high school located in the Edgewater area, and Lakeview High School located on Irving Park and Ashland ave. The colleges consist of Truman city college, St.Augustine college, and the American Islamic College.

Medical Attention!

Uptown has the privilege of having two major hospitals. The first is Weiss Memorial, located at  4646 N.Marine Drive, and the second is Thorek Memorial hospital, located at 850 W.Irving Park.  There are also urgent care faculties along with dentist and veterinary offices in the area.

Theaters past and present In the Uptown Area!

We have already talked about the nightlife in Andersonville and the eating places in Chinatown. Next, let’s talk about the theatres in the Uptown area. The Southern part of the area is where we find the Black Ensemble Theater—located at 4450 N.North Clark street. This theater has grown and is now recognized as one of the most diverse theatres in the country and throughout the world; this theatre has featured many productions and musicals related to Afro- American cultures, musicians, and performers.

Now let’s go to the Northern part of Uptown, and that is the area where is the main action is. Look at the two photos below taken Saturday night on October 21st, 2021. The past winter and spring coronavirus quarantine had shut both the Aragon and the Rivera theatres down. But all that changed in the summer, and now both theatres are bringing in the crowds. Traffic was a nightmare, but that is a good thing. Why? It means the area is an activity; people are spending money, and businesses are making money, so it is a win-win for everyone.



This area once had many theatres besides the Aragon and Rivera. The most well-known was the Uptown Theatre below.


Back in its prime, the Uptown theatre was a grand Spanish-style movie palace complete with air conditioning. Back in the 1980s, imagine the Green Mill, The Rivera, the Aragon Ballroom, and the Uptown theatre all open simultaneously. Broadway street would have been jumping. That was then; this is now. Unfortunately, since then, the Uptown theatre has fallen on hard times. It will take a lot of money to bring it back to its glory days. The former Lakeside and the Wilson Avenue Theatres have been converted to other uses. In addition, the Pride Films and Plays at the Pride Arts Center, located at 4147 N.Broadway, and the Uptown Underground, located at 4707 N.Broadway, are the remaining two theatres open for your enjoyment.

The Uptown area has few inland parks, but the Chicago Park District has an outdoor swimming pool at Chase Salmon Park located at 4701 N.Ashland ave. Of course, the largest swimming pool in the area is  Montrose Beach. Here you can buy food, rent kayaks, and volleyball. You can bar-b-que play sports, and yes, you can swim. The Park district allows you to moor your boats for a fee until the last part of October. You can also fish off the pier here. What can you fish for here? Just like in Rogers Park, you can fish for Salmon. Trout, Bluegills, Perch, Carp, and maybe a few smallmouths and Northern Pike if they are around. Oh yeah, you can also purchase your fishing license at the Park Bait company located on the beach. This writing is now mid-October. Salmon on and Trout are beginning to swim back close to the shore for their spawning season.

South of the Beach is a natural area that attracts many migratory birds during the fall and spring seasons. A serene dune habitat has a rare panne habitat, and endangered plant life thrives in this area. This area is the perfect place to get away and free your mind from the urban pressures, if only for a few minutes.

The People are living in the area!

This section will be short and sweet. We do not need polls to say who lives in this area. As Edgewater, West Ridge, and Rogers Park neighborhoods, Uptown is a melting pot of people from all over America and, yes, from all parts of the Earth. W You will also find many restaurants catering to the needs of their people and for others who love to eat their dishes. Do people of all races everyone get along at all times? No, they do not, but that is life. Everyone is trying to make the best of what they have. So if you love melting pots, you will love the Chicago Uptown neighborhood area.

On A Real Estate Note!

On a real estate note, the Chicago Uptown Neighborhood area is truly a fascinating place to live in or visit. For renters desiring to live here, there will always be vacancies. People wishing to buy a home in Uptown are faced with two challenges.   

1: Low inventory, which is also a city-wide problem.                                                                                                                        2:  Even if there wasn’t low inventory, the Uptown area does not have a high turnover of home ownerships. People who purchase homes here loved their homes and the area. They tend to stay in their homes for many years, if not decades. But there will always be opportunities. As a licensed real estate professional, it is my job to keep an eye out for those rare gems that come out onto the market quickly,

I look forward to helping you with that task when you are ready. Feel free to visit my website located at charlesmcshanchicagolandrealtor.com. You can search for the home of your dream there using my IDX system. Please click this button if you wish to do a free search now. Please click here    

The fall/ winter months of November and December are also a good time to purchase a home. People who shop for homes in the wintertime are serious buyers.No one wants to mess around in the cold. If you are one of those serious buyers, I know that you have gone out and got yourself preapproved. That is very important for two reasons

1:You understand what you can and cannot afford. You will not waste your time and the Real Estate Broker’s time looking at homes you know will not fit your budget. A preapproval letter from a qualified lender will keep you within your price range.

2:There was a time when some people would call a Broker and say I want to go and look at the home for sale I saw on the street a few minutes ago. A broker can show interested parties homes if they are part of an open house tour for that day. But if there is no sign on the lawn in today’s world, the rules have changed. Because of the coronavirus and safety concerns for possible burglaries, homeowners think twice about who they let into their private quarters. I say the word homeowners because they own that home, that is their personal property, and just like you do not want someone you do not know in your home, the same rule applies to them. You just can’t go into someone’s personal home because you want to.

In today’s world, when you contact that Broker with that request to see a home, that Broker should ask you for your preapproved document. Do you qualify? Next, they will ask you to fax or email them the preapproval document. If you cannot produce that document, they should not show you the property. Homeowners want only preapproved buyers coming into their homes, and Real Estate Brokers should insist on bringing buyers who have been preapproved for a mortgage or can show money in the Bank for a cash transaction. Doing it this way keeps everyone safe and respects people’s privacy, and doesn’t waste anyone’s time. So a serious buyer will be bringing their A-game. They will have their preapproval in hand before they go out searching for a home. They will show the serious homeowner who is selling their property that they mean business.


We are about to enter our second winter with the coronavirus still raging on. Children are now eligible to receive coronavirus vaccinations. The Chicago White Sox reached the playoffs, but the Atlanta Braves won the World Series. Congratulations to the Chicago Sky on bringing the first women’s basketball championship to the city of Chicago. The Chicago Bears are still losing, the Chicago Blackhawks have fired their coach, and the Chicago Bulls are trying to find their way. All museums, theatres, and Hotels are still struggling, but they are open and hanging in there. Chicago’s nightlife is back to where it once was. But when the winter colds return, will they be able to endure. Hopefully, the quarantines will not come back.

My office of Century 21 Universal is located at 7300 N.Western Ave. That is one block North of Touhy ave in the West Ridge neighborhood. If you have read my past neighborhood reports, you see that I know the Northside of Chicago like the back of my hand. But please do not get the wrong impression. I am not just on the Northside. I am in my car traveling on every highway in all directions, and I am on the Southside and South suburbs as much as I am Northside. So with that, let me close this blog post by saying come up to The Chicago Uptown Neighborhood area and enjoy yourself. Enjoy the food, shopping, and the nightlife, and if you wish to find a place to live, by all means, do it. Take care until the next time and stay safe.

Charles McShan


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