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Chicago’s Boystown Tops List Of World’s Best Gay Neighborhoods

Its massive annual pride parade and Illinois’ recent legalization of marriage equality edged Boystown above LGBT enclaves in San Francisco and New York, according to readers of Out Traveler.

People celebrate on the rooftop of Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBT community center during the 2013 pride parade. Gerald Farinas / Via chicagophoenix.com

Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood was named Out Traveler’s 2013 “Incomparable Gay Neighborhood” Wednesday, placing above several other popular LGBT enclaves around the world in a poll conducted by the publication’s readers.

The city’s massive annual pride parade — which attracted over 1 million people to the neighborhood in 2013 — and the legalization of a marriage equality bill last fall were among several factors readers considered when naming Boystown the best, according to Out Traveler.

“Chicago’s Boystown, centered around Halsted Street, was the nation’s first officially-recognized gay village in the U.S. and is the home to a large Pride celebration, as well as Market Days, an unrivaled August street party,” editors wrote. “The neighborhood has everything you could want: bars, clubs, restaurants, architecture, walkability, its own El stop, and now marriage equality (Illinois legalized same-sex unions in 2012).”

San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood came in second among the neighborhoods nominated by Out Traveler editors, including Los Angeles’ Boystown and similar enclaves in Barcelona and Madrid.

Located on the city’s North Side, Boystown’s informal boundaries are Irving Park Road on the north, Broadway on the east, Wellington Avenue on the south, and Sheffield Avenue on the west — ultimately overlapping with the Lakeview East neighborhood. It is a cultural and entertainment hub for one of the nation’s largest LGBT populations and is home to Center on Halsted, the largest LGBT community center in the Midwest.

The neighborhood also hosts massive street festivals such as Pride Fest and Northalsted Market Days, which also attract thousands of attendees.

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