Evidence of the complex neighborhood ups and downs of Chicago's Wicker Park can be derived from the pockets of stunning late-19th century mansions that survived through the “bad old days”.
Several such mansions face Wicker Park, and others may be viewed nearby. The so-called “Beer Baron Row” of elaborate single-family homes, for about two blocks on Hoyne Avenue north from Pierce, provides insight into a genteel, vanished way of city living. Many of the mansions were built by German emigrants who made their fortunes in the brewing business; Chicago once had numerous breweries, slaking the thirst of its European immigrant working class.
Following Prohibition and the Depression, the area began a gradual decline, and many of the brewers’ mansions were turned into rooming houses, before “urban pioneers” began restoring them in the 1980s.