Last month, we learned that Chicago was voted the second most beautiful (and second most fun) city in the world by 27,000 voters who weighed in on the 2021 Time Out Index survey. Suffice it to say, we were very flattered! Now, Chicago has received yet another accolade: Andersonville, the historically Swedish enclave on the far North Side, was voted the coolest neighborhood in America and the second-coolest neighborhood in the world, following Copenhagen's Nørrebro.
RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Andersonville
"Cool" can be a bit of a fickle adjective, of course, so allow us to explain how Andersonville earned the distinction. Every year, Time Out's editorial staff receives a shortlist of neighborhoods based on thousands of reader responses, which are then meticulously vetted and ranked according to criteria ranging from food and drink to nightlife and culture (Uptown garnered our No. 1 pick in 2020). Following a grueling 18 months of the pandemic, we placed extra emphasis this year on factors like community spirit, resilience and sustainability, all qualities that make for a forward-thinking—and yes, cool—place to live, visit and hang out.
With those parameters in mind, it's no wonder that Andersonville earned top honors. Once the center of Chicago's Swedish community, the neighborhood is now better recognized as a hub for LGBTQ+ nightlife and culture, along with the destination-worthy restaurants, bars and shops dotting its central Clark Street thoroughfare. Despite unprecedented hurdles over the past year, the area has welcomed new bars (like queer-friendly hangs Nobody’s Darling and the Bird Cage) new restaurants (Parson’s Chicken & Fish) and reinvented old favorites (like the Neo-Futurists' The Infinite Wrench, which recently moved back to in-person shows after more than a year of experimenting with virtual theater).
Robust community programming, such as the annual Taste of Andersonville or Andersonville Homecoming fest, showcases local businesses and offers residents a chance to mix and mingle in the street. And charmingly, the neighborhood hasn't abandoned its Scandinavian roots—look no further than the massive Swedish flag decorating the water tower atop the Swedish American Museum or the various Scandi-inspired eateries on Clark (hello, Lost Larson, and an even heartier hello to the seasonal glögg at Simon's Tavern).
Equally important are Andersonville's forward-looking efforts at promoting sustainability, like the Clark Street Composts initiative, which helps local businesses divert their food waste from landfills and just might serve as a template for city-wide composting in years to come. Meanwhile, local organizations such as the Chicago Therapy Collective—a nonprofit aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ mental health and fostering a trans-inclusive Chicago—continue to provide essential community support as the city continues to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Curious to see which neighborhoods Andersonville topped this year? Check out Time Out's 2021 list of the 49 coolest neighborhoods in the world, which covers some of the planet's most fascinating nabes for eating, drinking, living and exploring. From Jongno 3-ga, Seoul to Chelsea, New York City, it's safe to say we're in pretty good company!