Milwaukee Avenue (Chicago)

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Milwaukee Avenue
(Riverside Drive)
Illinois 21.svgUS 45.svg
Location Chicago
From Intersection of Desplaines Street and Kinzie Street, Chicago
To Skokie Highway (U.S. Route 41), Gurnee, Illinois

Milwaukee Avenue is a major diagonal street in the city of Chicago and the northern suburbs.

A view of the Gateway Theatre from the intersection of Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenues

Route description[edit]

True to its name, the street, which began as an Indian trail, eventually leads north to the state of Wisconsin and through Kenosha and Racine towards Milwaukee, though not directly. Starting with a short section at N. Canal and W. Lake Streets, it begins in earnest at the corner of N Desplaines and W. Kinzie Streets and heads northwest for about 40 miles (64 km) before joining Skokie Highway (U.S. Route 41) in Gurnee, Illinois, which eventually merges at Interstate 94 where Skokie Highway and the Tri-State Tollway split off, continuing to Milwaukee. From Harlem Avenue northwards it is Illinois Route 21.

Milwaukee Avenue is a popular route for bicyclists. The southeastern end of Milwaukee Avenue is the most heavily bicycled stretch of road in Chicago, with cyclists accounting for 22% of all traffic there on a randomly selected day in September.[1]

The street is lined with storefronts, restaurants and the occasional art gallery through most of the city.

The CTA's Blue Line runs beneath or alongside Milwaukee Avenue from its beginning at Canal and Lake Streets out to Logan Boulevard, with stations at Grand Avenue, Chicago Avenue, Division Street, Damen Avenue (in the Wicker Park neighborhood), Western Avenue, California Avenue and Logan Square. The Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90) roughly parallels Milwaukee Avenue as well.

Just north of Armitage it passes the Chicago Landmark Congress Theater and at Addison Street it passes the Chicago Landmark Schurz High School. Past Irving Park Road it turns more northerly and the Blue Line crosses again at the Jefferson Park station passing the Gateway Theatre. It exits the city at about Albion Avenue and enters Niles, Illinois. (A very brief stretch later reenters the Chicago city limits, located southwest of the intersection of Harlem & Howard avenues; the street is in Niles on either side of this stretch). At Golf Road it passes the Golf Mill Shopping Center. It crosses the Des Plaines River just south of the Chicago Executive Airport, formerly known as Palwaukee Municipal Airport (whose name is formed a portmanteau from its location at the intersection of Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue). From thence it roughly follows the Des Plaines River north to the Skokie Highway in the Gurnee Woods.

Wicker Park[edit]

Milwaukee Avenue runs through the commercial heart of Chicago's vibrant and trendy Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. The Double Door theater and Irazu Costa Rica Restaurant front the avenue in this section. On an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, host Guy Fieri walks from the Milwaukee Avenue pavement to Irazu's outdoor patio to sample the food for the TV audience. [2]

Sections of the movie High Infidelity were filmed in buildings along Milwaukee Avenue, including the Double Door and the fictional record store that is the nexus of the character's lives. Although the movie Wicker Park was filmed in Canada, the story is set in this area of Wicker Park, Chicago. The busy six corner intersection of Damen Avenue, North Avenue, and Milwaukee is the center of the "24 hour" Wicker Park scene with dozens of bars and restaurants, making for popular nightlife. The Flat Iron Arts Center, built in 1913 and designed by Holabird & Roche, is sited at this intersection. [3]

In 2015, the Spike Lee movie Chiraq (film) was being filmed in Chicago, with a scene including rapper actor Nick Cannon filmed at the Double Door on Milwaukee Avenue. [4]

The movie palace Congress Theater, a designed Chicago landmark built in 1926, is located at 2135 N. Milwaukee.

Logan Square[edit]

Just northwest of Bucktown, Milwaukee Avenue traverses the heart of Logan_Square,_Chicago, a gentrifying neighborhood. Milwaukee Avenue runs on a diagonal through the parkway of the boulevards, Logan Boulevard and Kedzie Avenue at a traffic circle surrounding the Illinois_Centennial_Monument.

Chicago's Polish Corridor[edit]

Polish store along Milwaukee Avenue in Jackowo

While Milwaukee Avenue has been a route of chain migration for various ethnicities, it is particularly associated with Chicago's Poles who have dominated vast areas of the city which Milwaukee Avenue cuts through. Numerous Polish Patches dotted the cityscape in its vicinity, from Polish Downtown near Polonia Triangle through the Polish Village in Avondale and the adjacent Villa District which journalist Mike Royko christened as "Polish Kenilworth". The street was once used as part of the route for the Polish Constitution Day Parade as well as Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to Chicago. Numerous Polish churches, shops, and cultural organizations such as the Copernicus Foundation, the Chopin Theatre, the Society for Arts, and the Polish Daily News still make their home along Milwaukee Avenue, continuing its Polish presence to the present day.

A stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Niles, Illinois was renamed in honor of Wojciech Seweryn in 2011, the Chicago area artist who died in the plane crash that killed the Polish president and dozens of other Polish leaders in Smolensk, Russia.[5]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]