Filled with gigantic trees, spacious lawns, and old renovated homes, the Ravenswood neighborhood is a lovely place to get away from hectic city life, while remaining in the middle of a thriving community that has it all. One of Ravenswood's (or Lincoln Square's, depending on who you ask) crowning glories is the Old Town School of Folk Music. It originated in Old Town, but the performance venue (which has hosted the likes of Joni Mitchell) was moved up to Ravenswood in recent years and continues to produce great folk shows. A slew of Ravenswood cafés and taverns also welcome live music and the occasional comedy act, in addition to supplying the bulk of neighborhood nightlife. On the dining front, a long list of excellent restaurants has made a blip on Chicago's culinary radar. Romantic French bistros, trendy sushi bars, unforgettable Italian pasterias, and satisfying American diners cover any mood or craving with style and masterfully prepared meals.
In 1868, this area of farmland and forest was bought up by a group of real estate investors called the Ravenswood Land Company. The company created larger lots and made a deal with a railroad company to open up a new stop in the area, promising an increase in riders. Upon doing this, the railroad and the land company set the rate high ($7.20 per one hundred rides) in the hopes that they would attract wealthier citizens to the vicinity.
Slowly, affluent residents began to occupy the land as railroads extended further north of the city. While many of the houses here were grand, fit for Chicago's high society, essential amenities such as sewers and sidewalks were not yet accessible to these upscale homes. It seems Jefferson Township, their neighbor to the west, would not allow the newly established community to run waste through their land to the Chicago River. How un-neighborly! So it wasn't until the 1880s and '90s, when Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood, Lakeview and Jefferson Township were soaked into the city's expanding city boundaries, that Ravenswood's sewage problems were resolved when the city's waste removal system was expanded to reach those in this northern Chicago neighborhood.
As the elevated train (known today as the 'El') was extended north in the early 1900s, the area became more accessible to citizens from lower and middle classes. To accommodate the new residents, small houses and two-flats were built in between and around the existing ones, creating a mixed income neighborhood.
Since Ravenswood's boundaries cradle those of Lincoln Square neighborhood, both communities shared in the growth throughout the years. Today, roughly a fifth of this Chicago neighborhood is considered a historic district as many of the original Ravenswood homes are still intact. Even the two-story apartment that was the home of famous poet Carl Sandburg still stands at 4646 N. Hermitage, where he wrote his acclaimed book Chicago Poems published in 1916.
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