NORTH CENTER HISTORY & FUN FACTS
In the mid-19th century, the area was sparsely settled and largely given over to prairie and farmland. Most of the early residents were German, Swedish, Irish and English. Many of these immigrants settled and built small truck farming communities. The farms were situated along the tracks of what is now the Chicago and North Western Railroad-along Ravenswood Ave. This made it easy to transport crops to other areas. Northcenter was part of the greatest celery-growing region in America. Truck farming was the economic mainstay up until the 1890’s. Greenhouse technology was first developed in Northcenter!
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 fire, many displaced Chicagoans moved into the North Center area. There was a massive post-fire rebuilding effort with a demand for non-wood housing. Nearby riverbanks yielded suitable clay, and soon clay pits and brickyards dotted the North Branch.
The area was nationally known as the center of the brick-making industry and earned the nickname “Bricktown”. During the 1900’s, the old clay pits in the southern half of the community began to close down, due to opposition to their noxious odor. This was also the time when light-manufacturing firms began to proliferate on Ravenswood Ave. from Montrose to Diversey.
Another landmark was the Riverview Amusement Park was called the Coney Island of Chicago. It closed in 1967 and in its place was built the Area 6 Police Station, Riverview Shopping Plaza and DeVry University.
NORTH CENTER BOUNDARIES
North Center is one of Chicago’s north side communities, seven miles northwest of the downtown Loop. It’s bordered by Montrose to the north, Addison to the south (though some sources claim Diversey), Chicago River to the west, and Ravenswood to the east.
PARKS & GATHERING SPOTS