Although Wicker Park has long been a popular tourist destination for both locals and visitors to Chicago, many of the shops that typified the area’s independent character are no longer there.

What’s going on: Late last month, after Walgreens left the historic old bank building, I made the decision to spend a Saturday roaming Milwaukee Avenue to examine how much it had changed since 2021, when I last did it.

Why it’s important The area between North Avenue and Division Street is known as Chicago’s independent heartbeat because it gave rise to alternative rock movements and provided a haven for generations of people who frequented coffee cafes and vintage stores like they were their second homes.

Backstory: I am fully aware of what has been lost in Wicker Park, having fond memories of the early years at Double Door and the 2001 demonstrations against “The Real World” (when cast members lived in the former Urbus Orbis building).