No matter how long I live in Chicago, I still find myself reaching for the GPS when venturing into unknown neighborhoods. Sure, I have the sense of direction of a blind giraffe, but it's also because you never know when you're going to approach one of those scary five-point intersections or a street that just decides to veer off in the wrong direction. I have become very curious about Chicago streets, and, thus, the streets are the topic for this week's 'Did You Know, Chicago?'.
Every wonder why, if Chicago is on the grid system, we have those really random and annoying angled streets? These streets were originally Native American trails, established even before this place was called Chicago. Clark Street follows part of the old Native American Green Bay trail. Lincoln Avenue was called Little Fort Road and was founded because it ran on a ridge over the giant marsh that used to be Chicago.
Lake Shore Drive is such a strange invention. Who shoves a three-lane freeway on the edge of a giant lake? Well, it was originally just supposed to be a cute lakefront path for the carriages of Chicago's high society, but when the auto age came around someone
thought it was a good idea to put cars on it. The Drive has been extended and realigned a ton of times, but it's still a giant mess.
The triangular-shaped intersection of Ashland Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and Divsion Street forms the Polonia Triangle, also known as the Polish Triangle. This used to be the center of Chicago's enormous Polish community. (Another fun fact: Chicago is home to the largest Polish community outside of Warsaw.)
Western Avenue is the longest street in Chicago, and one of the longest in the country. It's also one of the most dangerous streets for bicyclists.
In my opinion, Halsted is one of the most diverse streets in the city. From north to south you have Boystown, old Cabrini Green,
Goose Island, Greek Town, Hull House, fancy West Loop restaurants, Taylor Street/Little Italy, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Englewood and all the way to Chicago Heights.
Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?
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