Andersonville may be small, but it’s one of the most distinct and vibrant neighborhoods in the city. Once farmland on the city’s outskirts, then a Swedish suburb and eventually annexed by Chicago, Andersonville has become an LGBT hub with some of Chicago’s finest bars. Whether you’re just there for Midsommarfest or you call the neighborhood home, here are the telltale signs you’re in Andersonville.
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1. Swedish flags everywhere. Suddenly, everything looks yellow and blue, doesn’t it? Andersonville has maintained its Swedish pride over the years, and the flag is everywhere.
2. You’re in a Portlandia sketch. Andersonville’s iconic feminist bookstore, Women and Children First, bears a suspicious resemblance to the Women and Women First sketches in Portlandia….
3. So many cute old gay couples. The neighborhood has been an LGBT safe space for decades now. It’s like Boystown, for grownups.
4. You’ve been reading the beer list for 15 minutes… and you’re only halfway done. Andersonville is home to Hopleaf, which has perhaps the most robust beer list in Chicago
5. Swedish pastries, anyone? We’re not joking about the Swedish thing. With Swedish Bakery, the Swedish-American Museum and Svea, you’re basically in Stockholm, right?
6. You could always go grab some pho. So, technically the Pho is in Uptown, but Andersonville is incredibly close to everything Uptown has to offer (including dynamite Vietnamese food).
7. 160 years ago, you would’ve been standing on a cherry orchard. Weird to think about, huh?
8. The houses are classic and gorgeous and…made of wood. After the Chicago Fire in 1871, wooden houses were outlawed in the City of Chicago. As Swedish immigrants couldn’t afford brick or stone, they moved out of the city, to what is now Andersonville.
9. Front lawns are covered in ornaments and statues. Andersonville homeowners are a quirky bunch, judging by the number of gargoyles we’ve seen hanging out on their front lawns.
10. You’re all about the Clark bus. The Red Line isn’t far, but when you’re in Andersonville, the Clark but is where it’s at.
11. The longest day of the year is the best day of the year. The neighborhood’s biggest street festival is Midsommarfest, the Swedish summer solstice blowout. If it’s going to be light out until 10, why not party?
12. You still miss the water tower. Andersonville’s iconic Swedish flag water tower was unfortunately taken down in 2014 for safety reasons. But fear not: the Swedish American Museum is still raising money for a new one.
13. So many independent businesses. How do you say “mom and pop” in Swedish?
14. People keep trying to make “SoFo” happen… Yeah. Like, “South of Foster.” No thanks.