Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Series 2: Rogers Park

We are so excited to share this neighborhood with you!

Rogers Park (and its neighbor West Ridge) is the northernmost neighborhood in Chicago. A couple more steps, and a huge graveyard, and you've made it to Evanston.

I used to drive through Rogers Park when I worked north of the city, but I'll admit that I had never explored it. It is such a cool neighborhood!

Some facts:

It really is very far north. Just when you think you're almost there, you're halfway there. Chicago's longest street (Western Ave) is 23.5 miles long, so it's just one long city and this is its north pole, so to speak.

Rogers Park is the most diverse neighborhood in the entire country: socioeconomically and ethnically.

EIGHTY different languages are spoken by the residents of Rogers Park. I have a hard time even naming eighty languages! This was anecdotally confirmed when Little Guy and I played hide and seek with some girls in the first park we visited and they spoke Bosnian!

Going to Rogers Park is like taking a trip around the world without even leaving Chicago. Check out some of these fun sites!

Tel-Aviv Kosher Bakery - 2944 W Devon
Devon Avenue is this fantastic mile of the city where half of it is Indian and Pakistani restaurants and fabric shops (don't worry, we'll get to these) and the other half is Russian and Kosher Jewish bakeries and stores. It is almost a surreal experience to walk down this street and realize you're still in the U.S.! 

Tel-Aviv is a fantastic stop for bagels, pastries, cakes, treats, etc. They gave the kids samples of cookies and the adults samples of Rugelach - Hebrew for delicious, delicious pastry (think croissant with some extra sweetness rolled up in it.)

We bought most of the store. 

I have heard that they also have a great selection of sugar-free treats, but where's the fun in that??

Indian Boundary Line Marker - corner of Clark and Rogers

The Indian Boundary Line established in the Treaty of 1816 runs straight through Rogers Park. This was the line that was negotiated with the Native American tribes living in the area at the time, namely the Potawatomi, the Fox, and the Sauk among others. They were supposed to make their camp north of the line while Chicago grew and developed south of it.

It didn't last long.

After just 17 years Chicago decided they wanted more land and pushed the tribes even farther north.

Studying history is hard. It is really hard to read about these decisions with a modern lens. But I think we have to keep reading and remembering, and showing our children and teaching our children so that we can learn from the mistakes and injustices of the past. 

This marker is the only designation left for the Indian Boundary Line. It's on the side of a building at the  northeast corner of Clark and Rogers and it's now hidden behind a huge stoplight control. But we found it!!!

This makes a fun treasure hunt for the kids, and then you can have the boundary line discussion after they find it.

Readers who have never visited Chicago may not realize that it's located on Lake Michigan, and that the lake is so huge you can't see the other side. It feels a bit like living on the ocean! I was totally surprised by the Great Lakes when we moved here. This might sound dumb. I just couldn't wrap my head around how big they were!

Loyola Beach is a really fun one to visit for a couple of reasons:

1) Way less crowded than the touristy beaches around Navy Pier.

2) The beach is angled so that you can't really see the skyline, so it feels more remote.

3) They have a natural dune restoration project, the only one of its kind on this side of the lake.
4) The Artists of the Wall. This is my favorite part of Rogers Park. After graffiti on the breakwalls became a problem, neighborhood activists decided to turn this section into a huge community art project. Each year on Father's Day residents come out to paint a section of the wall according to an annually selected theme. The result is a vibrant stretch of community pride that is so much fun to walk along!
I feel like I did a pretty terrible job photographing this, it kind of needs to be seen in person!

Look at that teeny tiny city way south of us!! B says Thumbs Up to Loyola Beach!

I told you I had a thing about wooden playgrounds, didn't I?

This park is SO COOL. There's a ton to explore including a pond (with turtles!), a splashpad with dancing bears, really nice tennis courts, an old zoo that is now a nature center, and of course, ice cream vendors who come around ringing their bells every few minutes.
This park alone is worth the trip up to Rogers Park with little ones!

Devon Ave - Devon and Western
As I mentioned before, this street is such an anomaly and an absolute must experience in Chicago!

There are so many great restaurants along Devon, I really don't think you can go wrong. This is from Viceroy and I loved every single bite. I love buffets for trying new things because well, I love to eat A LOT of food, and I find the buffet allows me to be more adventurous since it takes the intimidation out of having to order. 
Little Guy agrees. Buffets for the win! That's kheer (Indian rice pudding) and it's his third bowl. So proud.

I hope you've enjoyed exploring Rogers Park with us! I give this neighborhood an A+ for its flavor, uniqueness, and the surprises it offers around every corner!

Next up: A summer road trip and then Portage Park

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