I have begun to use the Internet as my one and only resource for all things. When I can’t find something through a simple five-second Google search I feel lost. I am literally stuck inside the box (my computer). In effort to step outside the confines of my digital focused mind I decided to take a stroll on my very own street and you wouldn’t believe the stuff I found.

Not only did I learn that Chicago’s Old Town does not adhere to the Chicago grid system*, but it also confirmed my suspicions that Old Town is one of the greatest neighborhoods in Chicago. Here is what I learned when reading the historical markers that line Wells street: 

  1. It’s official. The Old Town Triangle Historic District (official name) is actually on the national register of historic places.
  2. German roots. I was proud to discover that my German ancestors settled on the land in the early 1830s. After doing a little more post-stroll research I was not so proud to uncover that the early Indian settlers were forcible removed from the land. I’m sorry.
  3. Old Town has some entrepreneurial spirit. The building on Wells and North known as Pipers Alley was once home to Henry Piper’s bakery from 1870 through the rest of the 1800s. German carpenter Louis Seipp operated his live-in woodworking business in the home located at 1546 North Wells.
  4. We know how to party. In the 1960s, Old Town was the “hippie” neighborhood and home to a more prominent and proud homosexual culture. This era gave rise to the boutiques, bars and restaurants that the ‘hood is known for today. The Second City and Old Town Ale House are both byproducts of this era.

Within Chicago’s rich history lies a story about the ‘good ole days’ for each individual neighborhood that may not be a click away. It was nice to break away from the computer and do some good old-fashioned book learning.

* Many of the streets and alleys in Old Town predate the Great Chicago Fire and do not all adhere to a typical Chicago grid pattern.>


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