5.2 out of 10

Back of the Yards

Ranked 51st best neighborhood in Chicago
41.8070554709743 -87.6580807237588
Great for
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Cost of Living
  • Public Transport
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Childcare
  • Pest Free
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Schools
  • Nightlife
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  •  
  •  

Reviews

2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Jul 26, 2011

"Back of the Yards - Infamous History, Positive Present"

The Back of the Yards neighborhood is known mostly for its history. The infamous Union Stock Yards were here all the way until 1971. As everyone else mentioned, it’s the site of Upton Sinclair’s famous novel about the working and living conditions in the area that spawned what is now the FDA.

My grandparents grew up in this neighborhood in the ‘30s. It was mostly Eastern European immigrants, which is what they were, and was extremely poor. Saul Alinsky, the famous community organizer, started his work in Back of the Yards during the ‘30s.

Today Back of the Yards is a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. It’s definitely still working-class, but the horrors of the stockyards are long gone. The area is quiet and residential, with several small parks for families. A lot of the old buildings are still around – mostly cottages and Catholic churches. The only thing left of the stockyards is the stone entrance arch, which is pretty cool to see. Saul Alinsky’s office is also still there.

There are a lot of Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood now, and small businesses as well. The only place I’ve visited is Swap-O-Rama, which is a great flea market to find stuff on the cheap. There’s a really cool mural along the sides of the building.
Pros
  • not much going on
  • Quiet
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Jul 21, 2011

"Hog Butcher to the World?"

The Back of the Yards neighborhood earned its name because it was home to the Union Stock Yards, which made the city the meatpacking capital of the world. Dubbed the “hog butcher to the world” by poet Carl Sandburg, Back of the Yards has evolved into quite a vibrant area since its meatpacking days ended many years ago. Located on the South Side, this largely Hispanic area has a family-oriented energy and has undergone quite a lot of urban renewal.

The area has become known for its retail businesses, many of which are found along Ashland Avenue/47th Street. Commuters will appreciate easy access to I-90/94. For Chicagoans, there isn’t much reason to visit the Back of the Yards. It is a mostly residential area and, although it has come a long way, I don’t see much to rave about here. I wouldn’t say I hate the area, but it is a bit forgettable in the grand scheme of things.

I admire the Back of the Yards for the strides the area has made in turning around its once-dwindling economy, but it’s not enough to make it a place I frequently visit. It’s a nice area for families in search of an ethnically diverse place to call home, but there really isn’t much else of note in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Pros
  • Making a comeback
  • Quiet
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jul 28, 2010

"Welcome to the Jungle..."

Back of the Yards is a decent working class neighborhood. Crime is a bit of a problem, so I wouldn't give in a high recommendation for a family looking for a good home. That said, you can find a decent place that isn't too expensive here.

Yes, it is the Back of the Yard from “The Jungle.” No, it isn't that bad. Well, mostly. I've stopped by during the day, and I've felt safe enough. I don't know that I'd want to go for a walk at night, but then going for night walks is something you do in smaller towns anyways. If you live in the city and want to walk around late at night, you'll probably end up mugged at some point regardless of where you live.

Back of the Yards is mostly Hispanic, and the food isn't anything worth mentioning, and the same goes for nightlife and shopping. Still, you can find a home, and if the price is of particular importance, then I'd say you can do a whole lot worse. Not for tourists unless they're fans of Sinclair.
Pros
  • Pretty cheap housing
  • Making a comeback
  • Quiet
Cons
  • Not a lot to do
  • Really bad history and still somewhat unsafe
  • No good food
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
Jul 07, 2010

"Humble beginings and rich history still breeds mediocrity"

Back of the Yards is one of the neighborhoods that Chicago is famous for. It has been immortalized in literature, but not for a wonderful reason. Today back of the yards is humble at best for someone looking for living accommodations and the neighborhood borders between average and a bit sketchy. When living or working in the area you might not feel terribly unsafe, but it is not an area you want to go for a late night stroll in. The residential homes are moderate, bordering on humble.

The area is rich with Hispanic culture and there are some eateries that are worth a gander as well as some incredibly Chicago landmarks and history within Back of the Yards. Tourists would do okay in the area and literary buffs will consider it a must see.

For someone looking to move to the Chicago area Back of the Yards is an okay choice if your budget is moderate to low and your lifestyle is simple.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5
Jul 05, 2010

"This is not Sinclair's Back of the Yards"

You may know this neighborhood from Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (which described heinous conditions in the meatpacking industry), but these days what you’ll find here is a much-elevated community (as opposed to what used to go on here, anyway). Back of the Yards is still working towards being a better neighborhood, you could say – it could use a little sprucing up, perhaps, but what is there isn’t all bad. Mostly residential, Back of the Yards is host to a variety of small, aluminum-sided houses as well as a retail area around 47th Street and Ashland Avenue. Here visitors will find the standard American business chains, but there are also some family and privately owned businesses here as well.

That said, there is a good sized portion of this neighborhood that remains industrial, and when I say that Back of the Yards is still working on itself I mean that the crime rate could afford some drops. That said, Back of the Yards is no slum – it’s your standard working class area, no more, no less.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 28, 2010

"From "Hog Butcher to the World" To A Well-Organized, Very Livable Community"

After reading Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle and Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, Back of the Yards seems like familiar territory. Alinsky famously organized life in this neighborhood in the 1930's. It was once known as the town of Lake until Chicago annexed it in 1889.

It was once the location for exactly where Chicago was "hog butcher to the world," as Carl Sandburg wrote. The Union Stock Yards Gate is all that remains of the city’s famous meatpacking past. The neighborhood that was once home to Eastern European Stockyard workers is now a thriving Hispanic residential and commercial community.

It was recently announced that the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council had started a newspaper which would be online. It wasn't today. But there other indications of a vibrant life full of fiestas and celebrations here.

The stretch of 47th Street between Damen and Ashland Avenues is an especially active commercial district that well serves its largely Hispanic community. This is one of the areas in the city where, though the surroundings are humble, and Western-wear stores sell high-end Stetsons and alligator boots.

Back of the Yards' reputation for stinking up the City of Chicago is gone, but now something else gets the notice of Chicagoans and suburbanites alike who travel for miles to get there. It's Swap-O-Rama, a huge flea market, held outdoors at 4200 S. Ashland Ave., (773) 376-6993. Hundreds of vendors set up to sell everything from underwear to tools.

Chiappetti LLC, 3810 S. Halsted St., (773) 927-6363, is one of the few remaining slaughterhouses in the city. It currently slaughters, packages, and distributes lamb. Admission free.

Saul Alinsky's Official Office, Historical Landmarks, 4430 S. Marshfield, commemorates the office of Saul Alinsky, the community organizer who taught poor communities in Back of the Yards to organize creatively for better jobs, housing, and government services.

Union Stock Yard Gate Union Stock Yard Gate, Historical Landmarks, W. Exchange Ave. & S. Peoria St.
Designed by Burnham & Root, the gate is the original limestone entrance-way to the former 475-acre Union Stock Yards. It is a Chicago Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Admission Free.

Public transportation is available via the Orange Line El to Western. CTA Bus: 44, 47. For more travel information, visit t www.transitchicago.com.


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3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Jun 24, 2010

"That limestone gate"

may be what physically remains of the Union Stockyards that Chicago owes so much to but the history in this area are undeniable. This area was immortalized in Sinclairs "The Jungle"

Formerly, the area was primary Eastern European. Now the residents are primarily Hispanic.
Homes and cottages where the workers in the stockyards lived are still there.

On 47th street there is an active commercial district surrounded by admittedly humble residences. There is a western shop that sells higher end accouterments and there are several restaurants in the area that are gaining local acclaim.

Packingtown park which was built and dedicated in 1997 is another area landmark that pays homage to the areas beginnings.

It is worth the visit if you are interested in Chicago history.