Wicker Park Makes Top 5 Among Nation’s Hipster Neighborhoods
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CHICAGO (CBS) — In what probably won’t come as a great surprise, Chicago’s Wicker Park is near the top of a new list of the nation’s top hipster neighborhoods.
In a new list compiled by Forbes and Nextdoor.com, Wicker Park ranked fourth among the top ten “Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods” in the country. Based on data from 250 neighborhoods in the biggest U.S. cities, Forbes and Nextdoor compiled the list based on walkability scores, the number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita, the assortment of local food trucks, the number and frequency of farmers’ markets, the number of locally owned restaurants and bars, and the percentage of residents who work in artistic fields.
Wicker Park, of course, is known well in Chicago for all of those features, as well as a population that fits the hipster stereotype to a tee – from tight jeans and tattoos to thick-rimmed glasses and creatively-groomed beards.
In the Forbes article, a resident touts the easy transit access, variety of housing types, retail and service options, and lively scene on the streets in Wicker Park, which as any Chicagoan knows is centered at the busy junction of Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues.
As home to the Double Door, The Wormhole Coffee with its iconic and nerdy pop culture theme, the reopened Filter coffeehouse and the gallery spaces of the Flat Iron building, Wicker Park has been a mecca for self-described hipsters for decades.
But Wicker Park and hipsters have not always been synonymous. At the turn of the last century, the neighborhood was defined by wealthy Germans and Scandinavians who built ornate Victorian and Italianate mansions along the residential streets. To this day, a stretch of Hoyne Avenue south of North Avenue is known as Beer Baron Row.
When the beer barons moved on, the neighborhood drew a burgeoning Polish population, and later a large Puerto Rican population. Revitalization efforts in the 1980s brought the hipster contingent that defines the area today.
Three U.S. city neighborhoods outrank Wicker Park on the list. Silver Lake in Los Angeles comes in at the top of the list, for its food trucks and farmers’ markets, as well as its art scene and creative community.
Coming in second is the Mission District in San Francisco, an area known for its street art and building murals. Third is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City – known affectionately to locals as Billyburg – a neighborhood known for its independent businesses, nightlife, live music, and in recent years, rents that top some of the more expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Behind Wicker Park are the Pearl District in Portland, Ore.; the H Street Corridor in Washington, D.C.; East Austin in Austin, Texas; Capitol Hill in Seattle; the Uptown in Oakland, Calif., and the Warehouse District in New Orelans.
And just what is a hipster, you might ask? The definition depends on whom you’re talking to.
Nextdoor points out that Merriam-Webster defines a hipster as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.” The Urban Dictionary gets more specific, defining hipsters as those who “value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter,” and mentioning Wicker Park second only after Williamsburg among centers of hipster cultures.
But to say the hipster culture has its share of detractors would surely be an understatement. One New York blog is so blunt as to go by the name “Die Hipster,” and touts itself as, “A place for real New Yorkers to vent about the invasion of attention starved, useless adults that we know as hipsters.”
And of course, in Chicago, hipsters are hardly limited to Wicker Park. Urban Turf ranks Wicker Park at the top of 10 hipster neighborhoods, followed by Logan Square, Bucktown, Ukrainian Village, Uptown, Noble Square, Humboldt Park, Andersonville, Pilsen and Bridgeport.