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DePaul Overview

Situated in a pocket of Chicago's sought-after Lincoln Park neighborhood, the small enclave of DePaul, which rests just to the east of the DePaul University campus, boasts lofty housing values and exquisite residential architecture comparable to that of its big sister neighborhood. New construction condos and rehabs of old townhomes are a common sight in DePaul, however, the community is steeped in elegant traces of the Victorian era with stately brownstone walkups and towering hundred-year-old trees. The bursting commercial and entertainment options in Lincoln Park encircle the DePaul neighborhood, which still holds its own with a couple bars and a popular French restaurant that attracts customers from all over the city.

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DePaul History

The neighborhood of DePaul is a tiny residential community that rests adjacent to DePaul University’s campus. Due to its proximity to the school this small subdivision of Lincoln Park was named after the celebrated institute of higher learning. DePaul University is the biggest Roman Catholic university in the country. Its roots go as far back as 1875, when Vincentian fathers arrived and laid the groundwork for the school.

A little further back than that, DePaul and the surrounding land was farm-laden. German truck farmers were the first to populate the area. A more urban environment began to take shape through the 1860s. The Great Fire of 1871 swept through the city’s core and hit the DePaul landscape as well. Citizens held on strong, living in rough shacks, not abandoning their land, until they could put their homes back together. The aftermath of this tragic event brought forth new housing codes by the city and as a result brick became in heavy fashion. Some of the homes built in DePaul still stand today, giving the neighborhood its vintage architectural charm.

The late 1870s saw more European immigrants arriving to this section of the city as they took on jobs in factories that lined the nearby Chicago River. About a decade later, in 1898, DePaul University officially opened its doors. At the time it was called St. Vincent’s (for St. Vincent de Paul) but the name was changed not long after. The school quickly became a well respected institution that brought attention to the area.

It’s hard to believe when touring the area now, with its shady streets and beautiful stone and redbrick walk-ups, that both the DePaul and Lincoln Park neighborhoods were on the verge of becoming slums. The Great Depression and World War II had harsh effects on property value. Neighborhood associations were formed in the 1950s in order to turn the trend around. These groups pushed individual homeowners to revitalize their homes. They also established ways for residents to acquire money from the government in order to restore the historic residences and return the streets to their former glory. Public and private renewal continued for decades, making this neighborhood one of the most impressive in Chicago.

DePaul occupies a small section of the city, ten square blocks between the much-traversed Diversey and Fullerton avenues. Since it sits on the outer northwest corner of the desirable Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, DePaul is strongly influenced by its larger sister community. Many of the residences within these boundaries are awe-inspiring three- and four-story townhomes bordered by stately wrought-iron fences and landscaped front patios, much like those in Lincoln Park.

The Sights of DePaul

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