The history of Uptown dates back to 1861 when the geographical area was used primarily as a cemetery. However, in the next few decades that followed the neighborhood grew rapidly. The Cedar Lawn, Buena Park, Sheridan Park, and Edgewater brought middle class and wealthy residents to the area.
The beginning of the 20th century brought a commercial boom to Uptown and at one point was competing with the Loop for newly built commercial shopping stores and recreational opportunities. Aragon Ballroom, the Riviera Theater, the Uptown Theater, Edgewater Beach Hotel, the People’s Church all attracted people from all over the country and turned Uptown into a gem of Chicago.
Unfortunately, the good times were followed by a grim period in Uptown. Depression and World War II took a devastating toll on the area. Wealthy residents moved up north, landlords felt no need to maintain their properties, and the neighborhood in its entirety deteriorated. The state of Illinois used poorly maintained apartment complexes for the mentally ill that were trying to assimilate back to society. Gang activity increased and up until the mid 1990’s Uptown was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods to reside.
In the 2000’s Uptown became a favorable area for urban renewal and went through a massive makeover. Crime rates curtailed and the area became flooded with urban professionals that could afford higher rent, increasing the neighborhood’s value.