The North Side neighborhood of Andersonville was a hidden gem in the 90’s. Today it is a well-known, robust area that’s as pleasant to visit as it is to reside in. The area became a destination for Swedish-Americans and Swedish immigrants after the Chicago Fire in 1871. At that time, the North Side area was not a part of Chicago and hadn’t yet been developed. Because residents could bypass the new Chicago law banning wood buildings after the Chicago Fire, Andersonville was able to develop as a commercial and residential hub within the city of Chicago.
Like all neighborhoods in Chicago, the borders are up for debate. For the purposes of today’s entry, we will adhere to the boundaries reported by www.andersonville.org. According to this organization, the area starts at Lawrence to the south and goes to Victoria at the northern end and includes Magnolia to the east and Ravenswood to the west.
These boundaries put the Andersonville area two blocks west of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line Stations. The area includes many bus lines, including the #22 Clark St. bus. The Ravenswood METRA UP-N station can also easily be accessed, and it is very close to Lake Shore Drive. All of this makes Andersonville an accessible area that can easily be reached and explored via public transit.
Once you’re in Andersonville, you won’t want to leave. The activities, museums, shops, dining, and events make the area enjoyable during all seasons. The largest event for the area is the Midsommarfest weekend celebration of the summer solstice. This event is over a mile long and has multiple stages, plenty of food, and numerous artesian vendors. In addition to this amazing festival the area regularly organizes Clark St. sidewalk sales and holiday strolls. These are wonderful opportunities to visit a wide variety of retail spaces.
The amazing shops in Andersonville make it feel different than many of Chicago’s other retail hubs. Andersonville has bookstores (Women and Children First), Gifts (Milk Handmade), vintage shops (Brownstone Antiques, Scout, Roost and more), sweet shops (Candiality, George’s, and Forever Yogurt), and even some quirky stores that defy explanation (Wooly Mammoth, Transistor). The area is a store by store wonderland of retail.
In addition to the amazing variety of stores, has Andersonville is also the home of the Swedish American Museum, which offers a wonderful experience for adult and kids alike. There’s no better place in the city of Chicago to study Swedish culture and heritage.
Andersonville is also home to some of the best restaurants in the city. The area’s culinary diversity is truly astonishing, and even particularly picky eaters are sure to find something they’ll love. Brew pubs, brunch places, and cafes line the streets, and cuisines from all over the world – Korean, Irish, Swedish, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and American, among others – can be sampled there. There are too many options to list and all of them are excellent. The area’s three best-known restaurants are Hopleaf, M. Henry and Big Jones, but there are dozens of other eateries that are well worth patronizing.
The Andersonville area is home to a diverse population of renters and owners. It offers endless activities for shopping, dining, entertainment, and enjoyment. Whether you’re looking for a new place to live or simply looking for something to do, it’s certainly worth paying Andersonville a visit.