We’re starting our new neighborhoods project in Uptown because, well, why not? It’s got a rich history, starting back before Clark Street was even a trade route and encompassing the glory days of the Jazz Age, the bad old days of the Depression, and the neighborhood’s reinvention as a haven for Appalachian clans, American Indians, and immigrants from around the world. In the 60s and 70s Uptown was a hotbed of radical idealism, and that legacy endures today in a network of social services and a fractious political landscape. And when you need a break from the bickering and the world-saving, you can eat your way from Africa to Asia or drink till the birds wake up at the city’s classiest 4 AM bar.

Uptown’s bigger than you think: its boundaries as defined by the city and the census stretch north to Foster, south to Irving Park, east to the lake, and as far as Ravenswood on the west. To save ourselves endless agonizing, we decided to go strictly by the city’s map, and with that settled, we sent our writers out to scour the place, from its bookshops to its sex shops, its jazz clubs to its dive bars, its terra-cotta crown to its tattooed bottom. Let us know what you think–what we missed, where you’d like to see us go next–at neighborhoods@chicagoreader.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Donovan Foote.