North Center, Chicago Community Area #5 sits 5 miles northwest of the Loop. The boundaries of North Center are Montrose on the north, Diversey on the South, the North Branch of the Chicago River on our West and the Ravenswood el and the west side of Ravenswood on our east. Avondale lies to the southwest, Irving Park to the northwest, Lincoln Square to our north and Lakeview on our east.
Uncultivated and untamed until the end of the 19th century, North Center is now a vibrant and successful near-north side community prized for its historic homes and friendly neighborhood streets. The roots of the community’s early days in Chicago were rooted in brickyards and light industry. Many of the residents were laborers that worked in the factories and clay pits on the banks of the North Branch of the Chicago River.
The area’s modern settled history begins in the 1840s when this area was owned by John Kinzie and William Ogden. Their attempts to develop the area failed, so they sold the land that is now North Center to John Turner. Following the Great Chicago Fire, Turner began renting tracts to farm to immigrants coming to the area, often German immigrants. Also following the fire, the city’s law forbidding frame construction created an explosion of need for brick, and the towns border on the Chicago river’s lush clay pits proved a tremendous boon to Turner and the area.
Over the years, the area was transformed by the depression, the War, the postwar years and the forces of city dynamics. It is today home to several neighborhoods, the namesake North Center, Roscoe Village and St. Ben’s, each brimming with interesting architecture and character. Roscoe Village extends from Belmont to Addison and from the River to Ravenswood. St. Ben’s extends above it from Addison to Irving Park, and the neighborhood of North Center overlapping St. Ben’s, by going to Addison. You can ask various people in the area between Addison and Irving Park whether they are in St. Ben’s or North Center, which actually goes west of the River to California and east of the Ravenswood el to Ashland, and uniformly you are likely to hear St. Ben’s. The area below Belmont is considered part of Lakeview neighborhood until it intersects with the Lathrop Homes, which is a neighborhood of its own.
Upcoming date for the Tour of North Center
- January 2015
Past dates of the Tour of North Center
- April 26, 2009
- May 1, 2011
- July 14, 2012