The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 demolished this entire neighborhood. As the story goes, Mrs. O'Leary's cow knocked over a lantern on her farm, spreading to neighboring farms before ravaging most of the city of Chicago. The results of the fire were devastating: hundreds dead, almost 100,000 homeless, with over $200,000,000 in damage.
The area bounced back quickly, building up the damaged areas while still maintaining it's German immigrant heritage. The area changed the landscape from farmland to more of a focus on walk-up multi-unit flats, town homes and single-family homes. Beautiful architecture can be found on many of Old Town's streets.
Old Town has a lot going on inside its boundaries. Bordered by Clybourn Street to the west, North Avenue to the north, LaSalle Street to the east and Division Street to the south, Old Town is well known these days for its eateries, stores and nightlife. Although it shares a border with the Gold Coast, the feel of Old Town is more relaxed and easy going. The main thoroughfare, Wells Street between Division Street and North Avenue is home to just about everything. In an afternoon, you can enjoy a cup of coffee from a fancy café, dine in a nice restaurant, buy a new outfit, get a haircut and do your grocery shopping all on the same street.
Stand-up comedy goes hand-in-hand with this neighborhood of Chicago. The world famous "Second City"comedy troop, where such stars as John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd their starts. Several comedy pubs still exist in the area.