Many Chicago neighborhoods come close, but not many surpass the rich and culturally colorful history of Uptown. From things to do, bites to eat, and places you ought to see, here is a simple guide to some highlights of Uptown.
Beauty House Beauty Supply • 1041 W Wilson Ave
Look no further: anything you’ve been looking for, here is where you’re going to find it. This Uptown cosmetic shop is perhaps the finest beauty house in the city. Hair enthusiast and product junkies alike will find that this long-time staple is like a candy shop. Bags are checked in at the front door, and if you’re using a plastic card, your purchase must total $10 and onward. But, beyond that, there are endless aisles full of all your hair, hair care, skin, nails, and jewelry needs.
The Godfather’s Famous Pizza • 1265 W Wilson Ave
Another best in the city, “Godfather’s Pizza” is too mouth-watering for words. They’ve got stuffed pizzas, and puffed pizzas, pan pizzas, and thin crust pizzas, right on Wilson Avenue. There’s an eclectic menu full of other classic Italian bites, delivering to nearly 30 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods for only $2.50.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge • 4802 N Broadway St
Nothing sounds sweeter than a cocktail lounge with connections to Chicago mob history. It’s been around since 1907, and can be seen in movies such as Thief (1981), Soul Food (1997), and High Fidelity (2000) to name a few. While you won’t catch Al Capone sitting in his favorite booth, or Jack McGurn’s men literally being cutthroat, you will find the sweet jazz and blues and poetry performances incredible. Get in early, because this place has a tendency to fill up.
The beach of Uptown, and a superbly popular beach for beach-goers, there’s plenty of fun in the sun to be had. Wind up playing volleyball, or sitting under an umbrella, enjoy the complimentary WiFi. There are concession stands, kayak rentals, water-sport rentals like jet-skis, and plans had been made for a simulated wave pool. There’s even a fenced-off dog beach for a man and his best friend to play.
Black Ensemble Theater Company • 4450 N Clark Street
This theater company is at the epicenter of productions involving Black-American culture. You’ll enjoy musicals celebrating infamous black musicians and performers like Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, and Billie Holiday. One of the greatest aspects of this company is the role it plays in contributing to Chicago’s emerging Theater Town image. The company once performed at 4520 North Beacon Street, but have been performing in this new state of the art 50,000-square-foot Cultural Center since November 18, 2011.
West Argyle Street Historic District
Once a suburb called “Argyle Park,” and now Chicago’s first and only shared street, Asia on Argyle is just that. There’s a hodgepodge of Vietnamese, Chinese, Camboadian, Laotian, and Thai restaurants, bakeries and shops. Window shop and find duck roasting before your eyes. You’ll probably want to stop by Lao Sze Chuan and try the dry chili chicken while you’re there.
Wilson Red Line Uptown Station
While the Popeye’s is more of a throwback, and renovation of the Wilson Red line stop is already underway, the stone infrastructure of the Uptown Station will still remain in its architectural greatness. If you’ve traveled in and around Uptown during the past several decades, this station will always hold some sort of significance to you and bring you that good ole’ nostalgia.
Racial Reconciliation Mural • N Sheridan Rd & W Sunnyside Ave
The Unique Thrift Store on Sheridan is now something of the past, but for now, the mural along the wall of the building still stands. The mural has a rich history, which you can check out here, and is filled with symbolism and messages of faith. Completed in the mid-1990s, this art is worth taking a look at before anything could possibly happen to it.
Aragon Ballroom • 1106 W Lawrence Ave
The most awe-fulfilling factor that makes Uptown one of the greatest communities to ever grace Chicago is it’s very rich history. Not so long ago, people would flock to the ballroom from all over the city and surrounding suburbs, to partake in dance, concerts, and a melee of other uses. It was built in a Moorish architectural style, where the interior resembled a Spanish village, earning the Spanish name of “Aragon.” Today, the venue has continued to be used as the hot spot for concerts, live-recordings, and other events.
Riviera Theatre • 4746 N Racine Ave
This concert venue that fits about 2,500 people was built in 1917 at the intersection of Lawrence, Broadway and Racine. At one point, in the late 1980’s, it was a private nightclub. Since 2006, it’s been owned by Jam Productions. This June, catch Future Islands and Portugal. The Man: Black Daniels and Electric Guest in concert.