The land known as Old Town originally served as a home and trade center to many Nations including Potawatomi, Miami and Illinois. Following the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, most of the indigenous people were forcibly removed, and the land was then settled in the 1850s by German-Catholic immigrants. Clark Street is a leftover of the culture, it being an old road which followed a slight ridge along Lake Michigan.
Old Town is home to many of Chicago's older, Victorian-era buildings. The neighborhood is also home to St. Michael's Church, originally a Bavarian-built church, and one of 7 to survive the path of the Great Chicago Fire. Many of the streets and alleys, particularly in the Old Town Triangle section, predate the Great Chicago Fire and do not all adhere to a typical Chicago grid pattern.
Old Town has one Brown-Purple Line 'El' station at 1536-40 North Sedgwick Street. It is one of the oldest standing stations on the 'El', built in 1900.
The first homophile organization in American history, the Society for Human Rights, was established by Henry Gerber at his home, the Henry Gerber House, on North Crilly Court in 1924. The Henry Gerber House was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 6, 2001. In June 2015 it was named a National Historic Landmark.
In 1927, sculptors Sol Kogen and Edgar Miller purchased and subsequently rehabilitated a house on Burton Place, near Wells Street, into the Carl Street Studios. Through the 1930s, an art colony emerged in the neighborhood as artists moved from the Towertown neighborhood near Washington Square Park.
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