Wrigleyville History: Evolution from Baseball to Modern Neighborhood

View of Wrigley Field with blue skies and light cloud spottingWrigleyville is one of the most well-known and visited neighborhoods on the north side of Chicago. Though it gets its name from the iconic baseball stadium Wrigley Field, it has a more extensive story apart from its sports team connection. Before being incorporated into modern Chicago, this neighborhood’s lengthy history led to its current Midwest prominence. 

Beginning of Wrigleyville   

The Wrigleyville story starts outside the Chicago city borders, inside a small community called Lakeview. Lakeview was a town situated north of the city, mostly known for its agricultural significance. The area was famous for growing celery and was sometimes referred to as “America’s celery capital.” In 1887, town officials decided that Lakeview couldn’t survive on its own without incorporation. After a democratic vote, the northern farming town became an official Chicago neighborhood. 

After several years, Lakeview grew as an industrialized area, with factories lining the always bustling Diversey Avenue. The neighborhood’s sudden prosperity and ample jobs led many from Chicago’s center up north, growing the northside’s general population. As Lakeview’s economic opportunities grew, entertainment moguls began scouting the area for recreational opportunities. This economic boom informed the migration of the Chicago Cubs and the eventual creation of Wrigley Field. 

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field was built in 1914 in the heart of Lakeview, hosting the Chicago Whales baseball team. The team played in the Federal League, colloquially known as the Third Major League for baseball. Unfortunately, this third league was disbanded in 1916, opening Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs’ takeover. 

Originally the arena was known as Weeghman Field until it was purchased by the Wrigley family in 1920. Once purchased, it was primarily called Cubs Park until it was renamed in 1926 after the team’s owner, William Wrigley Jr. 

The Cubs played their first home game in 1916 against the Cincinnati Reds, marking the team’s longstanding connection to the Lakeview neighborhood. Today, the team are permanent residents on the north side of Chicago and have become a point of immense pride for Wrigleyville residents. 

Wrigleyville Today 

As Lakeview became an industrialized epicenter and Wrigley Field welcomed fans from all over the city, Wrigleyville has grown into a flourishing microneighborhood on Chicago’s eastern border. The area has plenty to offer new transplants, longtime residents, and tourists with its vibrant nightlife, historic buildings, and sports-related entertainment. 

Surrounding Wrigley Field is a wealth of sports bars and eateries, perfect for game day or a casual day out. The Cubby Bear, founded in 1953, is one of the neighborhood’s premier spots for pregaming and enjoying live music. The bar has been around for some of the Chicago Cub’s most iconic victories, making it the perfect accompaniment for Wrigley Field’s enthusiastic fans.  

Though this northside community is named after its baseball field, Wrigleyville is packed with venues, nightlife, and outdoor spaces, making it a beautiful place for all types of residents.

To the east is Chicago’s famous Lake Michigan, with miles of lakefront trails for running, leisurely strolling, and biking. Plenty of green spaces are adjacent to the lake, with many playgrounds and dog parks for all walks of life to enjoy.  

The nightlife is also not exclusive to sports bars; Wrigleyville is known for having one of the Midwest’s oldest and most renowned house music clubs. Smartbar, next door to the music venue the Metro, has been open for over 40 years on Chicago’s notable Clark Street. Smartbar hosts house, dancehall, footwork, and techno DJs from around the world, while also creating space for the city’s eclectic local artists and entertainers.  

Lining the surrounding blocks of Wrigleyville has some of Chicago’s quintessential, gorgeous architecture. Two blocks north of the stadium is Alta Vista Terrace, a collection of rowhouses inspired by London’s two flats. The neighborhood is also known for its uniquely designed fire station. More than a century old, the Chicago Fire Department’s Engine Company 78 is the only engine house with a baseball-themed interior, with its walls decorated with Chicago Cubs memorabilia. 

Lakeview and Wrigleyville are two of the most prominent Chicago neighborhoods for their infinite amenities. With booming bars, beautiful architecture, and an iconic sports team, Wrigleyville is constantly inundated with new residents and eager tourists. If you haven’t visited the area yet, there’s still time this summer to grab a hot dog, catch a game, and enjoy all the sights this northside community has to offer.