The Wrigleyville Chicago neighborhood is oftentimes thought of as the ballpark neighborhood and a party hub because of all the bars that are all around it. The presence of the ballpark and drinking places has been the core elements of the neighborhood from the 1900s. Wrigley Field was built in 1914 by Charlie Weegham for the Chicago Wales and was called Weegham Park. Between 1920 and 1926, it was called Cubs Park and then later renamed for William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum king who owned the Cubs in those years. Wrigley Field also became the home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears. It also became the host for the National Hockey League Winter Classic of 2009 and continues to be one of the best summer music venues in the country!
The Cubs have played in the ballpark since 1916, and it has the distinction of being one of the only two residential big-league parks that is surviving today. Tickets for games in Wrigley Field can be difficult to obtain, especially during summer weekend games. The presence of the ballpark brought in a lot of improvements to the Wrigleyville Chicago community. Not only did the bars and drinking places open up for sports fans, but those who watch the games need refreshments and sustenance of all kinds, serving as drivers of economic activities in the neighborhood. There are more than 35 bars and establishments serving beer and other drinks on Clark Street alone.
The presence of the ballpark results in an extraordinary show of camaraderie among the residents of the Wrigleyville Chicago neighborhood. With everyone talking about the game, it is easier to unite in supporting community projects. This spirit of good will towards fellow sports fans extends to the patronage of the bars, some of them with baseball themes or names derived from baseball terms. Some of the names worth mentioning include Sluggers, Merkle’s or Stretch. The Cubby-Bear has been a name dating back to the old days when the Cubs and the Bears were both playing home games in the ballpark. Some of the bars have Irish sounding names like Irish Oak, Casey Moran’s and the Blarney Stone. Exodus II and Wild Hare are reggae clubs while there are a few Mexican bars. Most of the bars serve food, sometimes just burgers but some provide more elaborate dishes.
There are many Wrigleyville Chicago restaurants aside from the pubs that serve various kinds of dishes from all over the world. For people who prefer Italian dishes, the Tuscany Noodle serves more than noodles. Asian food is served at any of the Mr. Thai restaurants or at Shabu-Ya. After the excitement of a game, people naturally seek the bars or the food shops. Aside from the bars and restaurants, there are places on Clark Street for listening to contemporary music. There is also a comedy club named Improv Olympic (IO) Theater, located near the park.
The development and economic prosperity of Wrigleyville Chicago has always been linked with that of Wrigley Field. Apart of the Lakeview community, Wrigleyville developed according to the dictates of the ballpark and sports fans. Although there are shops in the area catering to the needs of the visitors and its residents, shopping itself is not a neighborhood focus. Most shops offer merchandise in keeping with the sports theme, like Cubs paraphernalia and related-souvenir items and tickets for Cubs games. Strange Cargo is a retail shop situated only a few blocks away from the ballpark and sells unique apparel that you can customize yourself. Visitors and shoppers in Wrigleyville Chicago tend to favor goods and clothing that features the letter “C” for Cubs.
The Wrigleyville Chicago experience is all about the ballpark and the surrounding nightlife. Buying tickets should be made well in advance, especially during weekends as it will be difficult to get in for a game. There are tours to see just the park, feel the vibrancy of the place and get a feel of this Chicago monument sans the game, in the months of June to August. Public transportation to get to Wrigleyville is provided by the El Red Line to Addison. CTA buses 8 and 152 services the area.
Wrigleyville Chicago residents are predominantly younger people. Unlike other neighborhoods, it is the young professionals who find themselves drawn to the excitement of this place. A lot of the residents are in their late 20s and early 30s, giving the place a fresh and energetic feel. Organized activities are therefore geared towards this age group like pub crawls. The general feeling is that Wrigleyville Chicago is a place for people looking to take advantage of the vibrant nightlife. If you are a sports buff, or a bar hopper, this neighborhood is the best choice for you to live in.