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Open House Chicago Sites

OHC 2021 includes more than 100 sites in 30+ neighborhoods across Chicago and nearby suburbs, many of which are not typically open to the public. Sites are open at the times listed throughout the weekend of October 16 and 17 and entry is free unless otherwise noted.

When visiting, please follow Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. Individual OHC sites may have additional requirements for entry, such as proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or other measures.

City-Wide Community Partners

77 Flavors, Access Contemporary Music, Chicago Cultural Alliance, LISC (Local Initiative Support Coalition), Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology , NON:op Open Opera Works , Plein Air Painters of Chicago (PAPC), Preservation Chicago, Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

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Neighborhoods

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Downtown

After the devastation brought by the Chicago Fire of 1871, the central business district, known affectionately as the Loop, was rebuilt throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. This process gave birth to the skyscraper through the use of the steel structural skeleton. Today, downtown Chicago is a vibrant commercial—and, increasingly, residential—district famous worldwide for its innovative and iconic high-rises, elegant boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park.

Albany Park / Avondale / Irving Park

The neighborhoods of Albany Park, Irving Park, and Avondale (running north-to-south, west of the Chicago River’s north branch) boast some of Chicago’s greatest architectural and ethnic diversity. Annexed to the city in 1889, much of the land was settled early on by German immigrants, in addition to Scandinavians, Russians, Ashkenazi Jews, and later a large wave of Poles. In the early decades of the 20th century, large industrial buildings serviced by the nearby rail lines and the river characterized this slice of the city, as well as eclectic residential blocks of single- and multi-family dwellings. By the 1980s and '90s, immigrants from Latin America and Asia settled into the area with strong representation from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, South Korea, India and the Philippines, among many other countries and cultures. Today, the wealth of cultural traditions in these neighborhoods are proudly on display in the restaurants, shops, breweries, community centers, and houses of worship.

Austin

Once part of Cicero Township, Austin was involuntarily annexed into Chicago in 1899 over political disagreements with neighboring Oak Park. Remaining pre-annexation structures, including parks, churches, gracious homes and a fire station harken back to Austin's suburban origins. In the 1920s, ornate apartment and commercial buildings popped up along major thoroughfares like Lake Street, Central Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. The neighborhood's centerpiece, Columbus Park, was laid out by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen in the 1920s. Though the neighborhood has faced several challenging decades of disinvestment through blockbusting and red lining due to rising racial tensions in the 1960s, many organizations today are working together for positive change, including the release of a new Quality of Life Plan for the neighborhood in fall 2018.

Back of the Yards

Back of the Yards, so named for its proximity to the former Union Stock Yards—once the world’s largest livestock processing, distribution and meatpacking facility—housed many of the Irish and German immigrants who worked in the slaughterhouses and factories. Bordering Bridgeport and McKinley Park and sharing in those neighborhoods’ particular blend of quiet residential streets and old factory complexes, today Back of the Yards is home to some of the most cutting-edge sustainable industry and technology in Chicago.

Beverly

Beverly developed slightly later than its neighbor, Morgan Park, but it too was greatly impacted by the addition of the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad line. Beverly Hills station opened at 91st Street in 1889, and the community north of 107th Street along the Blue Island Ridge eventually took the name Beverly. Its biggest residential boom took place in the 1920s and many large Revival-style homes from the period remain, built on deep wooded lots atop rolling hills. 95th Street was established as—and remains—an important commercial artery. Despite being annexed to Chicago by 1890, the community has retained its own small-town identity.

Bridgeport

Formerly known as Hardscrabble, Bridgeport was established to house the workers who built the 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal. Five Chicago mayors have called Bridgeport home, going back to Edward Joseph Kelly in the 1930s and 40s. Today, Bridgeport boasts a vibrant arts community and numerous cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood is a melting pot and one of the most diverse areas of Chicago, with descendants of the early Irish, Italian and Lithuanian communities mingling with first and second generation Mexican- and Chinese-Americans.

Bronzeville

Bronzeville, one of the nation's most significant African American communities sits just south of Downtown. During the Great Migration, the area became a hotspot for jazz music. It is linked to cultural and social advances such as the Civil Rights movement, Negro League Baseball and Black History Month. Due to its affluent past, Bronzeville contains some of Chicago's most distinguished residential architecture, with one of the largest concentrations of historic mansions in the city. Efforts are underway to spur economic development that builds on Bronzeville’s culturally rich legacies.

Exclusive to the OHC mobile app, you can explore several different curated paths, including the Performance Spaces in Bronzeville’s Black Metropolis Trail sponsored by ComEd.

Chinatown

Located within the city’s Armour Square community, Chinatown was established near Wentworth Avenue and 22nd Street (now Cermak Road) around 1905. Prior to that, Chinese immigrants lived and worked mostly in the Loop, near Clark and Van Buren Streets, until a group of businessmen who belonged to the On Leong Merchants Association relocated south. Over time, the neighborhood became packed with restaurants, bakeries, grocery markets, gift shops and specialty stores, making it a favorite stop for tourists and locals alike. Chinatown Gate, built in the 1970s, greets visitors with a Chinese inscription that states, “The World is for All.” Pagoda-like structures and buildings with elaborate reliefs of dragons, lions, birds and Chinese characters can be found throughout the neighborhood, in places like Ping Tom Memorial Park, the Pui Tak Center and Chinatown Square Mall. Today, the neighborhood remains both a commercial hub and a home for thousands of Chinese Americans.

Exclusive to the OHC mobile app, you can explore several different curated paths, including the Chinatown Architecture Innovation Trail sponsored by Ozinga.

Edgewater

Technically speaking, Edgewater is the newest of Chicago's 77 official Community Areas, having split from Uptown in 1980. But in reality, the neighborhood predates the city’s original community area designations. In 1886, a real estate developer purchased land in what was then considered a suburb of the city to create a new subdivision. Proximity to the lake and public transit turned Edgewater into a booming residential neighborhood that offered the amenities of both city life and a beach-side vacation town, and it retains this dual character today.

Englewood

Once known as Junction Grove, for the railroad lines that crisscrossed the area, Englewood officially became part of Chicago in 1889. The original home of Cook County Normal School (later Chicago State University), this large neighborhood has experienced near-constant demographic change. Today, it is predominantly an African American neighborhood with residents striving to build and heal intra-community bonds. Residents and institutions, faced with the effects of decades of disinvestment, have renewed efforts to address civic challenges and revitalize the business district near 63rd and Halsted, once among the busiest in the city.

Garfield Park

Garfield Park is anchored by its namesake park, a centerpiece of William Le Baron Jenney's West Park and Boulevard System. The former Central Park--renamed in 1881 after the assassination of President Garfield--features a gold-domed field house and the stunning Garfield Park Conservatory. The neighborhood consists of east and west halves separated by the park and featuring a remarkable collection of ornate 19th Century Greystones. These homes were built at a time when well-to-do Chicagoans flocked to the area looking for larger lots, less congestion and access to green space, all amenities the neighborhood offers to this day.

Hyde Park

In 1853, Hyde Park was established as a modest commuter suburb with frequent train service to downtown. In the 1890s, the combined effects of annexation to the City, the World’s Columbian Exposition and the establishment of the University of Chicago triggered a wave of development. The neighborhood was not immune to South Side disinvestment from the 1950s on, though the University's presence and proximity to the lake and parks helped to moderate its impact. Today, Hyde Park is undergoing rapid change linked to significant new commercial development, ongoing expansion of the University and plans for an Obama Presidential Center.

Lincoln Park / Old Town

The Lincoln Park neighborhood shares its name with the sprawling lakefront park that was renamed in 1865 to honor the late Abraham Lincoln. The neighborhood is home to numerous cultural and educational institutions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and DePaul University. The Old Town district—listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Chicago Landmark—sits within the larger Lincoln Park neighborhood between Lincoln, North, Wells and the former Ogden right of way. In addition to a shopping, dining and entertainment strip along North Wells Street and the presence of neighborhood stalwarts like The Second City and Old Town Ale House, the district features a stunning collection of well-preserved worker’s cottages and other residences constructed in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Today, greater Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s most densely populated and affluent communities and features vibrant commercial corridors along Armitage and Lincoln Avenues, Clark Street and Diversey Parkway.

Little Village / Pilsen

Named after a city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen was established in the 1840s as one of Chicago’s earliest working-class immigrant communities. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, both Pilsen and neighboring Little Village to the west drew large numbers of Bohemian immigrants who found work at the Union Stockyards and nearby manufacturing plants. Since the 1960s, a predominantly Mexican American population has defined both areas. In many ways culturally and physically contiguous, Pilsen is anchored by bustling 18th Street while Little Village boasts a 2-mile-long commercial district along 26th Street, an economic engine with sales receipts second only to North Michigan Avenue. Bright murals and mosaics claim the urban landscape in both neighborhoods and often reflect Mexican history and culture. In recent years, longtime residents have fought creeping gentrification as a growing number of breweries, restaurants, galleries, and music venues centered on 18th Street have joined the area’s vibrant cultural scene, spurring rising rents.

Logan Square

Logan Square, annexed in 1889, is a key link in the city’s ribbon of green parks and boulevards. Handsome homes line the forested boulevards, while greater residential and commercial density is found along the avenues and around the square itself—a popular hangout punctuated by the Illinois Centennial Monument and well served by the CTA Blue Line. In the last decade, Logan Square has seen an explosion in new dining and drinking establishments and a surge in residential mid-rise construction located near train stations.

Exclusive to the OHC mobile app, you can explore several different curated paths, including A Ribbon of Green on the West Side trail sponsored by ComEd.

Near North Side

Located just north of the Loop and the Chicago River, the Near North Side is a large community area that includes the Gold Coast, Old Town, River North and Streeterville neighborhoods. Its most famous element is the Magnificent Mile, the elegant Parisian-inspired shopping boulevard that developed along Michigan Avenue after the opening of the DuSable Bridge in 1920. The “Mag Mile” divides the dense lakefront area of Streeterville, largely taken up with residential and institutional uses, from the western reaches of the community, defined more by the adaptive reuse of former industrial buildings. The Near North Side has undergone constant reinvention throughout the history of Chicago, a process that continues today as development presses north from the booming Loop.

Near West Side

The Near West Side is one of Chicago's oldest and most ethnically diverse community areas. It encompasses several neighborhoods established by 19th century European immigrants, including Greektown and Little Italy. Despite massive 20th-century projects, such as the Eisenhower Expressway, the University of Illinois Chicago and the United Center, remnants of the area's ethnic enclaves remain. Today the area’s vast former industrial district is rapidly developing into a thriving business, dining and residential neighborhood.

North Lawndale

North Lawndale is known for beautiful Douglass Park, laid out by William Le Baron Jenney in the 1870s to help spur the westward growth of Chicago. Many of North Lawndale's first residents were Bohemian immigrants who worked at the McCormick Reaper Plant to the south, and later the area welcomed a large Jewish population. Today, it is home to a predominantly African American community striving for peace and unity. North Lawndale residents have provided significant contributions to progressive policies around community development, racial equity and urban farming and gardening. The neighborhood also boasts historic greystone homes and the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse complex, whose remaining buildings have been gradually undergoing a visionary redevelopment.

North Shore / Evanston

Blending an urban and suburban character in equal parts, Evanston is home to Northwestern University, vibrant local retail, and a bustling central business district served by CTA and Metra trains. Evanston is also the longtime home of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and a birthplace of the 19th-century Temperance Movement. Visitors to Open House Chicago this year are also treated to in-person sites and OHC trail stops in the close-by North Shore communities of Wilmette, Kenilworth, and Skokie. These communities have long attracted talented architects famous throughout Chicagoland for projects ranging from stately homes to cultural spaces and houses of worship.

Oak Park

Chicago's suburban neighbor to the west is world-renowned for its residential architecture and strong association with architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Oak Park split from Cicero Township in 1902 and was linked to Chicago by the Lake Street Elevated (now CTA Green Line). With a population of 52,000, the village may contain more historic architectural sites per square mile than any other in the country: it has dozens of homes designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, George Maher, Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummond, E. E. Roberts and John Van Bergen.

Exclusive to the OHC mobile app, you can explore several different curated paths, including the Frank Lloyd Wright: Portrait of a Young Architect Trail sponsored by Orren Pickell Building Group.

Pullman

This famous planned community was envisioned by George M. Pullman as an all-inclusive model community to house the workers who built his popular passenger rail cars. With leadership from architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan Barrett, the 1884 community was built entirely by Pullman employees. Though it was once voted "World's Most Perfect Town," reduced wages and high rents led to a worker strike in 1894 that halted rail traffic and impacted the labor movement.

Rogers Park / West Ridge

Rogers Park is, by some measures, the most economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Chicago. The beachfront community is home to Loyola University and is located just minutes away from Northwestern University. A trip down any of Rogers Park's main streets reveals an entirely unique cultural experience that seems to transport visitors to destinations around the globe, with a diverse building stock to match. The residential community west of Ridge Avenue is home to many brick bungalows, two-flats and large apartment buildings. Unlike neighboring Rogers Park, West Ridge maintained a low population through 1900. When brickyards moved to the area, Scandinavian and German workers came for jobs. The end of each World War sparked population growth. Many new ethnic groups, such as Jews, Middle Easterners, Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans, have come to call it home since the 1960s, giving it a diverse character, with eclectic dining and retail to match.

South Loop

In the mid-19th century, the South Loop was a rough-and-tumble mix of commercial and residential buildings. Warehouses combined with a mostly Irish and German immigrant community, as well as a small number of African Americans. Working-class housing consisted primarily of small wooden structures while the more affluent built grand houses along Wabash and Michigan avenues. The Great Fire of 1871 sparred much of the area, and over the next 20 years it transformed to mainly commercial uses, largely due to access to transportation with close proximity to the south branch of the Chicago River as well as two train stations. While the neighborhood included Chicago’s earliest “Millionaire’s Row” along S. Prairie Avenue and important religious institutions like Quinn Chapel AME and Second Presbyterian Church, much of the area was notorious as a vice district that thrived for decades. Today, the South Loop is widely seen as a desirable location to live and work, with a range of restaurants, museums, the McCormick Place Convention Center (the largest in North America), and historic landmarks including Motor Row and the Glessner House.

Ukrainian Village

This community has been a hub of Ukrainian culture since World War I, when a large influx of Ukrainian refugees settled there. Many aspects of Ukrainian culture are still visible in the area today, along with traces from the cultures of German, Polish, Slovak and Jewish immigrants. Elegant apartment buildings interspersed with dramatic churches and hip bars and restaurants make this a sought-after residential neighborhood.

Uptown

Before the movie industry went west to Hollywood, Uptown was the home of well-known early film stars including Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. The neighborhood features many ornate historic structures dating from its heyday as an entertainment hub in the 1920s and 1930s. Uptown's historic legacies, rich diversity, fantastic live music and eclectic dining scene make it a modern-day cultural destination.

Washington Park / Woodlawn

Centered around a 372-acre park of the same name, Washington Park started developing in the 1860s. Irish and German railroad and meatpacking workers moved in first and transportation routes stimulated rapid growth in the late 1800s. The city’s earliest boulevards were established just north of the park. The neighborhood underwent a rapid transformation in the 1930s, with many African Americans settling in the area during the Great Migration. In the decades since, it has been heavily affected by disinvestment and widespread demolition of buildings, but revitalization efforts are gradually taking shape. Woodlawn developed rapidly in the 1890s as the gateway to the 1893 World’s Fair. The elevated train along 63rd Street helped spur its development into a commercial and jazz mecca. The neighborhood became the center of a pivotal Supreme Court housing discrimination case, Hansberry v. Lee, echoing experiences set in Lorraine Hansberry's famous play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” By the early 1960s, Woodlawn was a predominantly African American neighborhood and considered part of the “Black Metropolis.” Although Woodlawn has faced considerable disinvestment, the Obama Presidential Center now under construction in Jackson Park promises to bring a much-needed shot in the arm even as it heightens concern about displacement of longtime residents.

Wicker Park

Wicker Park is a thriving residential and commercial community centered on the iconic intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen Avenues. Largely developed in the late 1800s by German and Scandinavian immigrants, the neighborhood is named after Charles Gustavus Wicker, a multi-faceted businessman who helped rebuild the area after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. At the heart of the neighborhood is Wicker Park itself, an active green oasis. The neighborhood features outstanding Victorian residences where many famous Chicagoans have lived and worked. Considerable wealth is reflected in the grand Gothic and Italianate brick and stone mansions that grace some of the neighborhood’s tree-lined streets, but rows of simple working-class cottages often stand just blocks away. By the 1930s, Wicker Park had become part of the working class Polish community expanding northwest from nearby West Town, and by the 1960s a significant Latinx population had moved in. The neighborhood’s cheap rents and proximity to downtown began to draw artists in the 1980s, kicking off heated early battles over gentrification. In the ensuing decades, the neighborhood’s vintage homes and eclectic commercial corridors have cemented its status as a desirable part of town.

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