Tale of Two Cities- Bucktown vs. Wicker Park pt. 5

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, May 25, 2012

The following blog entry was contributed by: Sam Marts and Dina Petrakis
- he's Bucktown, she's Wicker Park - who compare their two ‘hoods.

Today we look at doors and how they define a building.  

As the threshold of the building, a door makes a ceremonial statement in marking the difference between who comes in and who stays out.  The appearance of strength- and impression of importance are common elements between contemporary and traditional doors. Beyond that, style differences between traditional and contemporary portals are often vast.

These original Wicker Park doors have been refinished with a gloss material that highlights their details and patina.

They are a prominent feature of the façade, and there is no question about where the entrance is. The door announces its importance with fine details; the transom is ornate, communicates richness, and brings light into the vestibule. 

In this contemporary Bucktown renovation (formerly a tavern) the door gains importance by being extra tall- but is also meant to disappear by being very plain and black.  

Here the door is recessed back from the façade, so that the building architecture is dominant, rather than any individual element.  The door itself is just a “slab” with no panel or other detail; the transom is dark and meant to appear to be part of the door, adding height and importance. 

So, which one gets your vote, Bucktown or Wicker Park?

Wicker Park & Bucktown: A History of Diversity in Cultures and Architecture

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, March 15, 2012

This blog was contributed by Demetrius Simpson. He is a Chicago native, sits on the Wicker Park & Bucktown Chamber Board of Directors, sits on the Bucktown Community Organization (BCO) Board of Directors, and is a Realtor with Sergio & Banks Real Estate.

Since the 1800’s, the Wicker Park & Bucktown communities have been a melting pot of cultures.

German, Scandinavian, Eastern European, African and Spanish descended cultures all played a role in shaping the Wicker Park & Bucktown neighborhoods and the architecture that we know today.

In 1800, the neighborhoods now known as Wicker Park & Bucktown were a dense, marshy forest full of wildlife. It was an isolated area on the outskirts of the City of Chicago, connected to the City primarily by the Indian trail known today as Milwaukee Avenue. 

It was The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that sent a wave of settlers into the WPB areas,

As the fire left seventy three miles of Chicago streets and 17,450 buildings destroyed and a third of the city’s population homeless.Affluent German and Scandinavian immigrants settled in Wicker Park, away from the ashes of the once thriving neighborhoods to the east. They built large homes made almost entirely of brick and stone, as a response to the vulnerability of wood frame homes to fire. By 1895, homes built in the Italianate and Victorian Gothic styles, to name a few, circled the four acre park donated to the city by developers Charles and Joel Wicker, after which the park, Wicker Park, and eventually the neighborhood were named. Wicker Park was the showplace of architectural styles during the 1890’s. Many of these homes still stand today and are located within Wicker Park’s Landmark District.

By the end of the 19th Century, in addition to German and Scandinavian immigrants, Wicker Park was home to African and Eastern European descended cultures. These working-class immigrants, primarily Ukrainian, lived in small cottages on Bell Avenue. The area south of Division Street at Bell Avenue eventually became known as Ukrainian Village.

By 1930, Bucktown was home to a very large population of Polish immigrants. It is said that Bucktown got its name because goats kept by these Polish immigrants ran wild in the streets. A Buck is the male of the species. Bucktown became known as Little Poland or the Polish Downtown.

World War I sent a wave of Russian and Jewish immigrants to WPB.

The large mansions that were built by the affluent German and Scandinavian immigrants were converted to multi-family dwellings, especially after World War II and during the housing shortage.

By 1950, Spanish-speaking immigrants moved into the area making WPB a true melting pot of cultures.

The Wicker Park & Bucktown neighborhoods were shaped by a Great Fire and two World Wars.

These events sent immigrants here who built homes, built lives and ultimately shaped these communities into what we love them for today, the rich flavor of different cultures and beautiful buildings.

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