About Old Town
Old Town was settled in the mid 1800's when Chicago absorbed a wave of German immigrants in search of a better life. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 completely destroyed the neighborhood with the exception of St. Michaels Church, which was left in near ruin. Many of the houses in Old Town today were built immediately after the fire.
During the 1950's and 1960's, Old Town became the center of the Bohemian Renaissance movement. Hippies, beatniks and tourists alike flocked to Wells Street to shop and catch live folk music and poetry readings. Arts, improv comedy, and theater flourished during that period and are alive and well today.
The annual Old Town Art Fair is held every June and is the largest juried art fair in the country. Old Town is also the home of Second City, the famous improv comedy theater that has turned out the likes of John Belushi, Bill Murray and Chris Farley among others. The newly renovated and nationally acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre is located just north of North Avenue on Halsted.
In recent years, the development of several highrises and the award winning conversion of the Dr. Scholl shoe factory into luxury residential lofts (Cobbler Square), coupled with the emergence of new town homes and condominiums, has brought upscale retail and dining establishments with a vengeance.