The area wedged between Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, and Andersonville is considered something of a suburban oasis in the city. It is a small neighborhood that most Chicagoans probably wouldn't recognize by name, but despite its size, Bowmanville offers many of the advantages of larger neighborhoods without a lot of the headaches. This tiny, north side Chicago community is located close to shopping and nightlife, but offers a more tranquil locale with distinctive single-family homes and private outdoor space. Trees and grass abound in Bowmanville, providing plenty of green appeal right in your own front yard. Out on Bowmanville's border Avenues are sufficient restaurants, coffee houses and neighborhood pubs to entertainment without disturbing the peacefulness of this lovely, little Chicago enclave.
Jesse Bowman, a local innkeeper, was a man who was passionate about getting things done fastâ€”and not necessarily by the books. In the early 1850s he unofficially made the cart paths and forest near present-day Foster and RAve.nswood Ave.nues his own, and laid claim to many of the plots in the area without actually owning any of the property. He then sold the landâ€”that wasn't hisâ€”to unwitting buyers, and skipped town. That's basically how Chicago's Bowmanville neighborhood got its start. But the growing communities surrounding Bowman's questionable real estate dealings had a great impact on the success of the small, budding district.
At this point, the area that had once primarily been known for its truck farming and the production of flowers, pickles and celery, was becoming increasingly attractive for its residential potential. Rosehill Cemetery, the northern boundary of Bowmanville neighborhood, opened in 1859 with a majestic front gate and vast wooded lawns that welcomed not only mourners, but families of picnickers and folks just out for a Sunday stroll. In the 1860s, the region south of the cemetery grounds, known as the RAve.nswood neighborhood, which was originally a large suburb, was becoming a popular place to live for commuters with downtown jobs due to the number of train stations in the vicinity. As more stops were added at different points in the neighborhoodâ€”culminating with the completion of the RAve.nswood elevated tracks in 1907â€”the population continued to increase.
The rising number of residents caught the attention of real estate speculators and investors who saw the potential for even more growth in the area. In Bowmanville and nearby RAve.nswood, where once there had been farms and forest, brick bungalows, two-flats and small apartment buildings began to sprout up. Although this northern region of Chicago was traditionally settled by people of German and Swedish heritage, by the 1920s there was an influx of Italians and Russian Jewish immigrants that changed the neighborhood's cultural make-up. Over the next 20 years, as Bowmanville adjusted to the new mix of residents, the population continued to swell and light industry also started to appear on some of the vacant land.
In the 1960s many Greeks relocated to the close by Lincoln Square and Bowmanville areas after being displaced by construction of the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Eisenhower Expressway west of the Loop. In the ensuing years Bowmanville saw its populace continue to increase and diversify, although there was a period in the 1970s when the population dipped somewhat. Since then, Bownmanville has rebounded and an increasing number of families hAve. discovered this hidden neighborhoodâ€”close to so much, yet just far enough away to provide quieter streets and ample parking.
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