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BREAKING: Hipsters Love Wicker Park

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Sep 21, 2012 9:30PM

Hold onto your hats! Did you know there are hipsters in Wicker Park? Whoa. Shocking! A study by Forbes and ranked Wicker Park fourth in their list of the “Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods” in the country. Because if there's any publication that knows hipsters, it's Forbes!

Naturally Wicker Park was beat out by the hip enclaves of Silver Lake in LA, Mission District in San Francisco and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The study analyzed 250 neighborhoods based on walkability, "the number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita (with some help from NPD Group’s report); the assortment of local food trucks (and their ranking according to Zagat’s); the number and frequency of farmers markets; the selection of locally owned bars and restaurants; and the percentage of residents who work in artistic occupations."

Gee, those things are cool. But did they try counting the number of crustpunks sitting around with dogs in each neighborhood? Or did they calculate the number of shit fountains per capita? Or the number of mustaches per capita? What about the number of rats wearing skinny jeans? And does Claudio the Tamale Man qualify as a food truck?

Here is what Forbes knows about Wicker Park:

The Midwest Mecca of hipsterdom started attracting artists and young adults in the late 1980s. Nestled around a park, this artists' community is known for its galleries, music venues, boutiques and food options. It's also home to a smattering of Victorian mansions built by wealthy 19th century merchants and beer brewers.

It's not that they're wrong. Wicker Park is all of these things. The Damen-Milwaukee-North intersection—aka "the crotch"—is to hipsters as Wrigleyville is to bros or Boystown is to gays. It's a stereotype of a neighborhood built around the stereotype of a person. But there's a disconnect in Wicker Park: It's no longer affordable for the stereotype of a struggling young artist. Nice try, Forbes, but you missed the mark by a few years.

The rental market is incredibly tight now, not just in Wicker Park, but all along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor. In August WBEZ took a look at the market as the Sept. 1 move-in date approached. They spoke with Chicago Magazine real estate expert Dennis Rodkin who said the decline in young home buyers has caused a squeeze on renters in the "hip northwest neighborhoods" as well as the rest of the city. WBEZ writes:

According to Rodkin, the competitive rental market in these “zones of hipness” as he calls them, will eventually iron itself out. He says the real problem is the city is short more than 100,000 affordable rental units in low-income areas.

In July, a study on gentrification identified Wicker Park as one of the neighborhoods most changed by gentrification nationwide. Andersonville, Boystown and Pilsen made the list, too, but there is something different going on with Wicker Park. "It is undergoing regentrification which means that the early gentrifiers (principally artists who developed a Bohemian style destination around the intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues) could not afford to stay there and higher-income gentrifiers are replacing them."

So there you have it, Forbes. We were regentrifying before you even realized gentrifying was "cool."