Friday, November 15, 2019

The History of Lincoln Village Shopping Center at 6199 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

Before Lincoln Village was built, the property was occupied by the Christianson Riding Stables where you could rent a horse and ride up the bridle path along McCormick Boulevard and the North Shore Canal.

When Lincoln Village opened in 1951 in the Peterson Park neighborhood in Chicago, the mall’s motto was: “You’ll find it at the Village.” It cost $2 million dollars to build the 15-acre (not including the Hollywood Kiddieland property) shopping center that was designed with the automobile in mind. The parking lot, with space for 1,300 cars, originally had eight entrances: five on Lincoln, two on McCormick, and one on Devon. So you shouldn’t have to drive around too much to find an entrance.

Lincoln Village Shopping Center opened 5 years before Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie opened.

The arrival of Lincoln Village Shopping Center in this area marked a major shift in the neighborhood. What a contrast to the old, cramped, and dark storefronts lining Bryn Mawr between Kimball and Kedzie. And parking was a problem on Bryn Mawr, where there were no public lots.

When Lincoln Village first opened, it had four buildings. Building 'A' was the larger strip that ran more or less parallel to Lincoln, the small 'B' ran perpendicular to Lincoln, backing up to the North Shore channel. Buildings 'C' and 'D' were small triangles, also facing Lincoln. Building 'D' housed a restaurant and I don’t remember what business occupied building 'C'. At the west end of building 'A', closest to McCormick Boulevard, there was a two-story medical office center with Lee's Pharmacy on the ground floor.
A combination of limestone, roman face brick, and redwood was used to give each storefront a different look.
Roman Face Brick
A wide canopy extended from the top of the buildings over the walkways. The canopy was held up with decorative wrought iron pillars. The sidewalks were made of pumice, ground glass, and cement for a mosaic effect. There were several built-in flower gardens. Most storefronts had large display windows just like downtown Chicago. There were also loudspeakers attached to the canopies and placed inside the stores for piped-in music.
Wieboldt’s department store (with an S&H Green Stamps redemption center in the basement) anchored the plaza from its opening until the 1980s.
The Office Depot took the anchor store that was long-vacant after Wieboldt’s went bankruptcy, then the Office Depot was replaced by TJ Max.

Neighborhood commercial districts like Bryn Mawr, between Kimball and Kedzie, came about in the days before most families in the neighborhood owned a car or a refrigerator. Until women started working outside of their homes, and every family bought a car, the mom-and-pop merchants had enjoyed a captive audience.

Back in the sixties, Lincoln Village was a beloved mall with favorite businesses like Harmony Hall Hallmark Gold Crown Store, Bagel and Tray Deli-Restaurant, the Village Nut Shop, Eric Salm Men's Store, and a drive-thru Peterson Bank branch was built as an outbuilding.

There was a company called "Harmony Hall" which was a record store in the 1960s and 70s in Lincoln Village at 6103 N. Lincoln, the location which later became the Lincoln Village Theater (another record store at 5607 W. Belmont)
The Lincoln Village Theater was the last movie palace built in Chicago.
In 1968, the fabulous Lincoln Village Theater opened.

The restaurant located at 6181 N. Lincoln Avenue (in building 'D'), first opened as Sammy and Lisa’s What’s Cooking; then Zelda’s; the Village Inn; the Village Cart, which closed after a fire in the late 70s and finally What's Cooking opened in 1978 and closed 2012.
Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley posing with the staff of What's Cooking in the Lincoln Village Shopping Center after his breakfast meeting. (the early 1990s)
I worked at the Treasure Island grocery store in 1976 for a short time. 

Lincoln Village shopping center was rehabbed in the late 1980s. It benefitted from an excellent location at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and McCormick Boulevard within a dense urban location. A rehab of the property was necessary in order to raise rents.

Negotiations were started with Borders Books and Barnes and Noble to replace the aging Lincoln Village Theater and act as an anchor for the shopping center in this neighborhood which was rapidly upgrading. A lease with Borders was signed and plans were prepared for a complete façade renovation in December of 1999.

At the turn of the 21st century, Lincoln Village shopping center included the recently built building on and facing McCormick Boulevard, Just north of the original center buildings. It housed Subway, Quiznos, and a couple of other stores.

The original center consisted of these businesses: The Baby's Room, Fannie May Candy, Joseph's Shoe Clinic, Old Country Buffet, P.S. Plus Shoes, Kale Uniform, Sally Beauty Supply, Pierce Interiors, Bestcom Wireless, and GNC.
The property, which by now encompassed five buildings and some outbuildings, included Starbucks, Panera Bread, Famous Footwear in an outbuilding on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and McCormick Boulevard, and Fifth Third Bank in their own building. The Boarder's book store closed in November of 2016 and was replaced by a Ross Dress for Less store.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. Used to enjoy going to What's Cooking for lunch. This plaza must have been a real game changer for the nearby resident when it opened.

  2. In the 1950s as a young child, my other would take me from Logan Square on the Kimball Ave bus to this new shopping center.

  3. There was also Tennenbaum Hardware in the back behind Wieboldt's , which Office Depot also eventually took over.

  4. In the early 1960's our dentist, Dr. Addis, was located in the medical center building above Lee's Pharmacy which was owned by the parents of one of my classmates at Devonshire Elementary School in Skokie.

  5. What club/bar was there after Eric's north?

  6. After starting with the company in one of their other stores, my father was the Manager at the Lincoln Village Wiebold't store at the time of his passing in 1964. The company was already in some financial trouble as I recall, and the opening of Old Orchard just a few years after Lincoln Village didn't help. Ah, memories of S&H Green Stamps!


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