Lincoln Square is the definition of a cozy, family-friendly Chicago neighborhood.
A charming mixture between new and old, it celebrates its German heritage while looking to the future for inspiration. Residents love the neighborhood’s welcoming spirit, abundant parkland, and creative businesses. With the nearby CTA Brown Line, the Metra North Line, and the Kennedy Expressway, the Loop (and beyond) is an easy commute!
Lincoln Square Neighborhood Guide
A family-friendly, low-key neighborhood — Lincoln Square offers the best of Chicago.
At the center of the neighborhood, great restaurants blend with shops, entertainment, and cozy bars. The area retains aspects of its German heritage, but one is just as likely to see Thai or Middle Eastern businesses.
Lincoln Square attracts from across Chicago with its excellent shopping. One can find great independent establishments in the area including bookstores, indie record shops, and clothing/home boutiques. Major grocery stores and national retailers are also available.
Lincoln Square Food and Drink
Lincoln Square’s underappreciated restaurant scene ranges from fine dining to classic Chicago dives. Top spots include Pannenkoeken Cafe, a cute breakfast spot, and Gather, offering innovative American food. Date night? Check out Bistro Campagne, an intimate French restaurant. Lincoln Square also has great neighborhood bars, such as The Grafton and the Half Acre Beer Company, perhaps Chicago’s best independent brewery.
The area is proud of its cultural scene. Lincoln Square is host to The Old Town School of Folk Music. Founded in 1957, the Chicago institution offers music, dance, and theater classes (including family-favorite Wiggleworms) as well as excellent in-house concerts.
Local movie theater, The Davis Theater, is a neighborhood institution. It shows first-run movies, Saturday morning cartoons, and affordable matinees of family classics. The area hosts several festivals, including The Square Roots Festival, featuring great music along with local food and craft brews. German festivals are another treat, with Mayfest in June, and the German-American Festival in September.
Parks and Recreation
In good weather, residents can take full advantage of Lincoln Square’s numerous parks, trails, and playgrounds. Welles Park is a particular gem, with amenities for kids and adults alike including a playground, a natural play area, a fitness center, and an indoor pool. The North Shore Channel Trail is a local secret. From the trailhead on Lawrence Ave, it follows the Chicago River northward, offering lovely views of the river and a sculpture garden.
Lincoln Square History
Originally forest and prairie, the area was first settled in the 1840s by German immigrants. Still mostly farmland, notable businesses included a pickle factory and a commercial greenhouse.
The population spiked after the Chicago Fire of 1871. Much like today, the area presented an attractive alternative to the city’s densely built and crowded areas. Named Lincoln Square in honor of Abraham Lincoln in 1925, a prominent statue of the president was erected in 1956.
With the opening of the Ravenswood Elevated Line (today the CTA Brown Line) in 1907, the farmland began to fill up with bungalows, two-flats, and small apartment buildings. The area remained partly agricultural until the final farms were sold after World War II.
Lincoln Square Today
Keen to promote the area’s commercial identity, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce heavily promoted its Old World-flavored commercial district after the war. The proprietors, however, were diverse, including a growing number of Latino and Asian residents. A major project, the Lincoln Square pedestrian mall was built in 1978, requiring the rerouting of local traffic. Today, the neighborhood is a favorite across Chicago, featuring a unique suburban-pace in the heart of the northside.
Lincoln Square Homes
Lincoln Square housing includes charming single-family homes, three-flat greystones, and bungalows along tree-lined streets. Along the North Branch of the Chicago River, some beautiful Lovely Victorian and Prairie School homes are available. More affordable options include vintage apartment buildings and condominiums.
With a lively cultural scene, great restaurants, and easy access to the Loop via the CTA Brown Line, Lincoln Square is an ideal Northside haven!