Architecture in Old Town, Chicago

Near downtown Chicago and a couple of blocks from North Beach on Lake Michigan is a neighborhood full of modern design and hints of the past. Known for being the home of the Second City’s improv troupe and quaint local stores of food and handmade accessories and clothing, Old Town has intrigued me beyond its comedy clubs and local bars. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the buildings in Old Town won’t be able to stop you from enjoying its outer beauty. Originally settled by 19th Century German-Catholic immigrants, the ethnic roots in Old Town run deep from Saint Michael’s Church to the edges of Wells Street. To see what I mean, take a look at a few photos and history of this neighborhood’s unique architecture.

Triangle DistrictBeginning at the Triangle Historic District on Wells Street and Menomonee Street, the brick and stone buildings are a reminder of how The Fire of 1871 caused most of this area to be rebuilt. In the 1940s this area went through another revitalization as residents saw the importance of preserving the homes and buildings’ authenticity. This tree-lined area is only the beginning of this neighborhoods’ mix of Victorian and modern styles as I head to my next destination on Cleveland Avenue.

Saint Michael Church (L)A few blocks away sits Saint Michael’s Church built by German architects and builders. Although most of the church suffered the same fate of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, some of the exterior was able to be saved and the interior was rebuilt. One of my favorite features is the stained glass windows that were designed and made by the Mayer Window Art Institute of Munich, Germany.

Old Town Sign My next path takes me back along the steps of Wells Street where local stores of stationery, jewelry, accessories, bakeries, and restaurants reside. I continue to find my way through the mix of Victorian, vintage, and modern apartments and buildings until I reach the corner of North and Wells where a recent fire at Adobo Grill unfortunately burned parts of the Second City and nearby businesses. Luckily, this fire was nothing like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that ravaged the city from October 8th-11th, killing 300 people, leaving 100,000 people homeless, and causing $200 million in damages. As the Second City, Adobo, and other businesses work on rebuilding their offices, I can only think of how Old Town is in a constant state of rebirth. Passing by construction workers on the way to my internship every morning, I’m reminded of how much anything can be lost in an accident but it can be rebuilt with dedication.

Old Town Building

This post is a part of Travel Tuesday hosted by Lauren on Location and Alkeks Abroad.

Travel Tuesday


  1. Caitlin

    This area looks so beautiful, Brooke. I can’t believe your internship is near here! How exciting!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Caitlin. This is where I’m living until tomorrow. My internship is in Ravenswood. I’m enjoying North Chicago a lot! It has great personality!

  2. elabellaworld

    That looks like a really nice place. I like old architecture more than the modern one,

  3. Tania

    beautiful photos! I love Chicago! Xx
    Instagram: @littleprettymess


    Would love to visit! Though it looks a bit scarry… haha! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


    • brooklyntvlasich

      Old Town isn’t scary at all! I’ve enjoyed my time here and I hope you can someday too!

  5. Eden

    I love Chicago’s architecture but I’ve never been to this part of the city. Definitely makes me want to go back and visit. Beautiful photos by the way 🙂

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Eden! I hope you get a chance to come back to Chicago and visit Old Town. The architecture throughout the city is amazing!

  6. Laura (bright and beautiful)

    Loving this post! Old Town is a great area to explore!

    xo, Laura

  7. Jamie Hatcher

    Gorgeous photos! I would love to visit Chicago


  8. Brooke

    What a beautiful part of the city. Remind me a lot of downtown Ruchmond.

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  9. Claire

    Such a beautiful area!

    God bless,
    Xo, Claire

  10. AndreaOnVacation

    I’m from Iowa originally and have spent a lot of time in Chicago but not in this part. I will have to go exploring somewhere new next time I’m in Chicago.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I hope you get the chance to visit Old Town! Chicago has lovely scenery and architecture. What have you seen when you’ve visited Chicago?

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