Church in Logan Square
the inner core of the metropolis, a sprawling ring
of semi-urban settlements invokes Chicago's multicultural,
multiethnic history and its many-faceted present.
Communities which in other metropolitan areas might,
for their residential density and uneven distribution
of low and mid-rise structures, be considered suburbs,
here within the limits of Chicago are proudly among
the "neighborhoods". Notable architecture,
also, abounds and astounds, especially in vintage
structures from the 1870s-1920s.
North Side. Especially for the
past several decades, the North Side has been Chicago's premier
upscale residential location. With property values high in almost
all of the area's charming neighborhoods, it is safe to say
that the historic character and contemporary gentility of the
North Side has been discovered. Chicagoans and tourists alike
flock to the trendy bistros and boutiques of the Lincoln Park
neighborhood and to the grassy lawns and world-famous zoo of
Lincoln Park itself. Nearby DePaul University's student body
is reputed to be among the nation's happiest. Lakeview draws
crowds for its extravaganza of eclectica on Belmont Avenue and
in the flamboyant gay community in New Town, also known as Boys
Town, along Halsted and Broadway streets. More tranquil communities
such as West Lakeview, Roscoe Village and North Center delight
their residents with a touch of relaxed Americana right inside
the big city. Chicago's so-called "necropolis", the
sprawling, elegant Graceland Cemetary, sits in the northern
part of the North Side, and nearby Buena Park, with its stunning
Romanesque church St. Mary's of the Lake, lies directly east,
at the southern border of Uptown and the Far North.
Signage of a fashionable boutique in Lincoln Park
|| Northwest Side.
One of the city's primary areas of choice for Hispanic residents,
the Northwest side rivals the West/Southwest neighborhoods in
its Latin American ambience. Logan Square, with its monumental
Centennial statue, gives the impression of a South American capital.
Albany Park offers a dynamic,
multicultural milieu featuring Chicago's Koreatown along Lawrence
Avenue. Irving Park and Avondale are quiet, friendly family communities
similar to their counterparts farther east.
Detail of the imposing Illinois Centennial Monument.
The predominantly African-American West Side has seen its share
of economic challenges, but its tree-lined streets, some recalling
the pastoral era before these neighborhoods were absorbed by urban
Chicago, have their charms. The Garfield Park neighborhood is
best known for its 19th-Century botanical Conservatory. Farther
west, on the Oak Park Border, lies the historic Austin neighborhood,
which like Oak Park includes a cache of elegant pre-20th Century
structures, although they do not receive the same publicity and
An Interior of the Garfield Park Conservatory
Side, West. Like the Northwest side, the Western section of
the city's Southwest side is a Hispanic corridor. The ornate Pilsen
neighborhood showcases Mexican cultural heritage, and Little Village,
Heart of Chicago, and Tri-Taylor follow suit, while the so-called
Medical District near UIC offers a massive compound of health
care facilities. Neighborhoods Brighton Park, Gage Park, Chicago
Lawn, and Marquette Park are also in the Western part of the Southwest
Decorative planter in the Pilsen.
Side, West. Some of Chicago's most troubled neighborhoods
fight consistently for economic survival and quality of
life on the African-American South Side, inland from the
Lake. Communities like Englewood and Gresham repeatedly
rank as those most in need of attention and revitalization,
but they are also some of Chicago's most vibrant places,
where a sense of deep history and cultural context survive
despite, if not because of, hardships their residents
endure. The spirit of the city, and its citizens' love
of life, has a presence here often lacking in the more
artificial streamlining of redeveloped, "revitalized"
communities farther north.
Used furniture store and tire shop in vintage structure,
Park-Kenwood. For many years an island of upper-middle class
affluence and values amid the sea of Chicago's impoverished South
Side, Hyde-Park Kenwood has played a pivotal role in, respectively:
defying, studying, and perhaps ultimately reversing the tide of
urban blight that has afflicted South Chicago since mid-century.
The communities here are insulated by the cushion of the prestigious
University of Chicago's ivory tower effect, and beautified by
the parklands of Washington Park on the east, the Midway Plaisance
to the south, and Jackson Park on the west, site of the World's
Columbian Exibition of 1894 and current grounds of the beloved
Museum of Science and Industry. Also identified with the gracious
Kenwood mansion district to the north, the Hyde Park area today
is a culturally and ethnically diverse community of students,
University faculty and staff, young professionals, and lower-income
residents that give it one of Chicago's most unique, and best
known, environments outside of the downtown area.
Hyde Park's gothic architecture reflected in rainwater.
Side, East. Like communities farther inland, the northeastern
part of Chicago's African-American South Side has seen
economic and social hardships in recent decades and its
infrastructure has suffered in neighborhoods like Woodlawn,
Grand Crossing, Pacific Manor - names that echo a more
prosperous time in the South Side's past. With urban revitalization
a continuing theme, however, this area - rich with history,
culture, and community and dotted by unheralded architectural
treasures likened to its well-known North Side counterparts
- might one day enjoy the prosperity and stewardship of
the built environment that it deserves, especially in
rapidly-changing Woodlawn. It's a similar story in parts
of the South Shore neighborhood, where the recreative
opportunities of the lake somewhat temper the urban malaise
that grows acute slightly farther west, and the historic
buildings in the Jackson Park Highland district have given
that neighborhood a particular charm and appeal. Further
south, in neighborhoods like Chatham, Burnside, and Calumet
Heights, a different story takes shape: here a middle-class
contigent almost exlcusively African-American has created
a section of the south side with communities not unlike
their well-off, predominantly white north-side equivalents.
St. Anselm's Church
In the 1920s, the lakeshore at the city's northernmost neighborhoods
had a pedigree of high society appeal, especially in lavish Uptown
and somewhat later at the dazzling Edgewater Beach hotel in Edgewater.
The depression devastated Uptown, however, and a landfill project
in the '50s robbed Edgewater's resort of its prime beachfront,
resulting in the hotel's demolition in the '70s. For decades,
parts of the far north declined and seemed at risk of slipping
into a urban-decay holding pattern similar to that endured by
much of the city's South Side. In recent decades that has begun
to change significantly, though, with communities new and old
celebrating the semi-suburban setting offered in the Far North's
lovely residential areas such as Budlongwoods, Ravenswood, German-themed
Lincoln Square, Peterson Park, Pulaski Park, Swedish-themed Andersonville
and North Park, Epic/Magnolia Glen, and Rosehill (also known as
Arcadia Terrace), named for the nearby Rosehill Cemetary. Farther
north still, at the northern borders of the city, one finds the
gracious Rogers Park,West Rogers
Park, and North Town neighborhoods, some of the most interesting,
diverse, and eclectic neighborhoods Chicago has to offer.
The Edgewater Beach Apartments.
Before the city of Chicago annexed it in the late 19th Century,
the township of Jefferson was like the rural counties west of
Chicagoland are today -- mainly agricultural, with a few villages
dotting the countryside. As railroad traffic increased, these
communities became more like today's outlying Northwest suburbs
-- commuter towns in a semi-rural setting. The village of Jefferson,
though small, was distant enough from Chicago to begin developing
an autonomy not unlike that of today's Waukegan or Aurora. Even
now, the Jefferson Park neighborhood totes itself as a "city
within the city" -- and its southern neighbor Portage Park
enjoys a similar semi-suburban character. Nearby Sauganash, Edgebrook,
Norwood Park, and Edison Park are essentially suburbs within the
city limits, with all-American charm and vintage dwellings ranging
from small bungalows to gracious manses. Farther to the West,
the friendly businesses of Belmont Heights, Montclare and Galewood
suggest an ideosyncratic, congenial character.
Alphabet art on a Norwood Park school playground.
Airport Area. Unlike much of the rest of the West
Side and the South Side, these far-flung neighborhoods
close to Midway Airport, such as Archer Heights, West
Eldson, West Lawn, Ford City, and Scottsdale, maintain
a character somewhat akin to how they were 50 years ago,
not as severly affected by the urban troubles that have
afflicted their eastern neighbors. Instead they offer
a mix of diverse residents and unique businesses, often
recalling a bygone era in their homespun charm. Farther
on are border neighborhoods Garfield Ridge and Clearing,
some of the latest communities to come inside Chicago's
city limits, communities of bungalows and parks with a
Southwest. Bastions of Irish pride on the southwestern
edge of Chicago's South Side, Beverly and Morgan Park
are known for their pubs and for their famed St. Patrick's
Day parade. These Celtic stomping grounds, set on hilly
landscapes dotted with historic 19th-Century mansions,
offer a striking contrast to the unfortunate Southside
neighborhoods just a ways east, where restaurant vending
windows are protected with bullet-proof glass. Mount Greenview,
however, one of Chicago's most far-flung communities located
just south of the Evergreen Park suburb, is a pleasant,
locally-centered residential community.
Dog dressed for St. Patrick's Day in West Beverly
Occupied primarily by Lake Calumet and its industries, Chicago's
far south offers a handful of historic residential neighborhoods,
many of them economically underpriveleged, such as Fernwood, Rosemoor,
Roseland, and West Pullman - and one surprising tourist destination,
the Pullman district itself, a failed experiment in company housing
from the turn of the 20th Century which today is being remade
both as a destination for sightseers and as a desirable residential
location. Pullman offers striking architecture and wistful monuments
to its creator, the Pullman Company and its patriarch George Pullman.
Entryway to the "Greenstone" church in
the Pullman District.
Southeast. At the far fringes
of South Chicago, towards the Indiana Border, are Chicago's
most isolated communities. Separated from the rest of the city
by Lake Calumet and its rivers and canals, these settlements:
the industrial community of Chicago's East Side, and small-town
Hegewisch, have a character all their own.
Hegewisch Metra Station