Being a Wicker Park Mom

Written by: Amy Johnson

Moving to Wicker Park, Chicago 13 years ago, I had no idea that I’d also raise children here. It is incredibly different from the suburban town in Michigan were I grew up and while I sometimes feel a sense of nostalgia for my own childhood of rural roads and backyard adventures, I love raising my kids here.

I won’t deny that Wicker Park is busy! The 6 way intersection at Damen/North/Milwaukee is bustling, as is the Polish Triangle  at Ashland/Division/Milwaukee. In the summer sidewalk cafes overflow, musicians collect change playing on street corners, and students, artists, parents pushing strollers, and professionals all vie for space on the sidewalks. Wicker Park’s street fests (Wicker Park Fest, Do Division, ChillFest) bring the crowds and definitely add to the excitement of living here.

I love that there are so many kid-friendly businesses in the area. One Strange Bird, Building Blocks Toy 

Store, The Boring Store, Myopoic Books – all are within walking distance. A walk just outside the technical boundaries of Wicker Park gives us Purple Monkey Play Room, Easel Art Studio, and Bucktown Music. There is always something to do and it’s never far away.

At the same time, our family has plenty of room to relax in the neighborhood. We stroll down tree-lined streets such as Hoyne and Pierce, window shop along Division where the sidewalks are wide enough for our kids to ride their bikes, and visit Wicker Park’s Farmers Market where we can spread out a blanket near the fountain and often listen to live music.

Here are some of the other ways we spend our favorite days:

-       Smoothies at Filter Café (1373 N. Milwaukee) and play time at Dean Park (1344 N. Dean).

-       Yogurt parfaits on the back patio at Letizia’s (2144 W. Division) and play time at De Diego Elementary School Park (1313 N. Claremont)

-       Breakfast at Jannick’s Café (2011 W. Division), bike riding and exploring at Clemente High School park (1147 N. Western).

The schools in Wicker Park are gaining popularity and momentum and solid choices include both public and private options. We love going to school with kids in our neighborhood. There are several day cares and preschools in the area as well.

Everything I need on a daily basis (groceries, bank, gym, school) is within walking distance. When I need to leave the neighborhood I can jump on the blue line or a bus. This means that my husband and I can share a car and even if a tire is flat or the car won’t start, we are still on time for school and work.

When my children and I walk to school and navigate our way through the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection I am always amazed at the variety of experiences my children can have in one day in our neighborhood. As they learn friends’ names and street names, playgrounds and bus routes, I feel grateful to have so many activities and amenities for them at our fingertips. Our next adventure is always right outside our door.

 

 

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 6:51 AM