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Culture and the Cubs in Wrigleyville

Wrigley Field, architecture, art and more in a great Chicago neighborhood

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.0 miles / 1.6 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: Wrigleyville is the neighborhood around the "friendly confines" of Wrigley Field, home of the hapless Chicago Cubs. This legendary National League team has fans around the world despite not having played in a World Series since 1945 and not having won a World Series in more than 100 years.

Local lore has it that the team's consistently poor showing is the result of the "Billy Goat curse." As the story goes, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis hexed the Cubs in 1945 during the last World Series ever played at Wrigley Field. Sianis had brought his pet goat to the game, but was asked to leave after other fans complained about the goat's smell. Outraged at the insult to his goat, Sianis declared the Cubs would never win another World Series.

It seems to have worked. The Cubs were up two games to one in that 1945 series but ended up losing Game 4 and the best-of-seven series. Over the years, Sianis kin have been invited to the ballpark in several failed attempts to "reverse the curse." (For another slice of Chicago stop in for a beer and "cheezborger" at the grubby Bill Goat Tavern, which still operates on lower Michigan Avenue.)

Even if you're visiting when the Cubs are out of town, or during baseball's October-March off season, Wrigleyville is a worth a visit. You can still tour the venerable ballpark, the oldest in the country, and there are plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs and some decidedly un-Chicago-like architecture to entertain you in this vibrant North Side neighborhood.

This easy walking tour will show off one of Wrigleyville's hidden architectural gems and offer plenty of options for food and drink. Clark Street is one of the great sightseeing streets in Chicago, so take a stroll and drink in the urban atmosphere where hippies, punks, comics, artists and urban professionals all mix it up together.


Tips: Parking is difficult in this crowded city neighborhood—and nearly impossible to find on game days—so consider taking public transportation to Wrigleyville. The CTA's Red Line stops right at Wrigley Field and the Brown Line stops about a half mile away at Belmont.

Prepare for walking. Bring a jacket and plenty of spending money for enjoying affordable meals, shopping and entertainment. This is a great place to find that perfect souvenir. Be aware that the partying gets intense on Cubs game days at the bars on Clark south of Addison Street, so this trip takes you north to see some architecture and art.

Points of Interest

Viewpoint
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Addison Red Line stop

This stop is right behind Wrigley Field, which you can see from the elevated train. No matter which direction you are coming from, expect a festive atmosphere on your train ride on game days as you'll be accompanied by many happy Cubs fans. (Don't worry about missing your stop—just follow all the fans sporting their Cubs gear.)

At the train station, take a minute to enjoy the murals featuring Cubs legends Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg, and a smaller painting of legendary Cub sportscaster Harry Carey, all by Chicago artist Steve Musgrave.

As you leave the CTA station notice the brick two-flats and residential buildings surrounding the park. Some entrepreneurs on Sheffield and Waveland have set up bleachers on the building rooftops, creating a fun alternative way to take in a game.
Building
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Wrigley Field

Welcome to “the friendly confines of Wrigley Field,” home of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team and the oldest ballpark in the National League.

Built in 1914, it was originally named Weeghman Park and served as home for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. The Federal League lasted just two years (the Whales won the championship in the second year). After the Federal League folded, owner Charles Weeghman bought the Cubs and moved them into his ballpark, the only Federal League park still in use today.

From 1920-1926 it was called Cubs Park, then renamed Wrigley Field for the new team owner, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., who bought the team in 1925. Between 1921 and 1970, Wrigley Field also was home to the Chicago Bears of the National Football League.

Wrigley Field is famous among professional baseball parks for its ivy-covered walls, hand-turned score board, intimate dimensions and also, unfortunately, for the fact that it hasn’t hosted a World Series game since 1945.

Nevertheless, it is a jewel of a ballpark. Tours of the park are available on most days and very popular. It's recommended that you check tour availability and buy tickets online before heading to the park. Tour tickets sell for $25.

You’ll love the view of the lake from the upper deck.
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Cubby Bear Lounge

Wrigley Field is located at the intersection of Clark and Addison and it’s a busy corner, especially at night.

Clark Street is home to scads of great eateries and bars, mostly on the strip south of the park, but more are scattered throughout the adjoining neighborhood.

The Cubby Bear is the mother ship of the strip. Established in 1953, it’s part sports bar, part rock 'n' roll emporium and all-around great spot for people-watching. The bar gives you a real feel of neighborhood. Either for postgame moratoriums or rocking the night away, it’s a Chicago classic.
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1059 W. Addison
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Hours
Game Days
Sunday-Friday 10am-2am
Saturday 9am-3am
Non-Game Days in summer
Sunday-Friday 11am-2am
Saturday 11am-3am
Winter
Monday-Thursday 4pm-2am
Friday 11am-2am
Saturday 11am-3am
Sunday 11am-2am
Landmark
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Alta Vista Terrace

Turn left out of the Cubby Bear, cross Addison, then cross Clark Street to Seminary. Walk two blocks north to Grace Street. Turn right to Alta Vista Terrace.

This historic district features a distinctive collection of row houses built on a decidedly European scale—each lot is about 24 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Built in 1904 by Samuel Gross, the homes along this narrow single-block-long street are atypical of the Chicago architecture of the period. They're more like turn-of-the-century Mayfair London plunked down right in the heart of the North Side of Chicago.

The block is known as the “street of 40 doors.” The 20 different exterior styles are repeated in converse order on the opposite sides of the street. The entrance to each home is unique. The exteriors feature leaded side and fanlights, bay windows, arches, Doric and Ionic pilasters and a host of charming decorative architectural devices.

Take your time wandering this block and enjoying the lovely exteriors of the buildings, compact gardens and peaceful historical feel. Then head back south to Grace Street and turn right to get back to Clark Street.
Food/Dining
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Uncommon Ground Coffee House

A trip to Wrigleyville would not be complete without a visit to the Uncommon Ground Coffee House. Located two blocks north of the ballpark, this venerable establishment has been a staple of the Chicago counter-cultural scene since 1991.

Drop in for coffee or something stronger and browse the gallery, which features an ever-changing collection of work from Midwestern artists. Uncommon Ground boasts a fine kitchen serving breakfast/brunch through dinner. The club offers an eclectic blend of live music, from folk to jazz, seven nights a week.

When you've had your fill of coffee, food and art, head south along Clark Street for some entertainment of a louder sort at Metro.
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3800 N. Clark
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Hours
Sunday-Thursday 9am-10 pm (kitchen) bar until midnight
Friday-Saturday 9am-midnight (kitchen) bar until 2am
Food/Dining
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Metro

As you walk south on Clark back to the Addison Red Line, you'll pass many bars and restaurants. Anchoring the activity on most nights are rock acts old and new playing at Metro Chicago.

Metro, its companion dance club, the Smart Bar, and its store, have been hosting music—mostly punk and edgy rock—since 1982.

The Smart Bar is strictly 21 and older, but the Metro sometimes offers early all-ages shows. Check the website for the upcoming performance schedule.
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3730 N. Clark
Food/Dining
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Raven Theatre, Black and Blue

Enjoy the rivalry between the North side Cubs and the South side Sox, by heading up to Raven Theatre, where the gifted, award-winning ensemble is staging BLACK AND BLUE. It's a bit of a trek but worth it. Just hop on the Clark Street Bus and head North. Sports fans and agnostics will enjoy it.

It's playing through Sunday, July 28, 2013

BLACK AND BLUE

by Anthony Tournis & Nick DiGilio

Directed by Nick DiGilio

June 14 - July 28, 2013

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3:30pm

Tickets: $25
Raven subscribers & Seniors: $20
Students/Teachers/Military: $15
Groups of 10 or more: $15
Industry: $10

Raven Theatre
6157 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60660 phone: (773) 338-2177 email: info@raventheatre.com
Pictures in this guide taken by: saduros, Chicago Transit Authority, The Chicago Cubs, jukkatapio, iphonedwin, Zol87, Joe Kelly, gingerbydesign

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About the Author

saduros
saduros
2 guides
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I love to travel, hike, take photos and tell stories and I am a professional journalist and social media...
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