ARam

  • Local Expert 1,425 points
  • Reviews 16
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 2
  • Discussions 0

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Flourishing Neighborhood"

It may be on the outskirts of Chicago, but because the O’Hare International Airport is here, businesses abound and flourish. It’s the site where many major businesses have set corporate headquarters, and just like in any American city, hotels have sprung up in great numbers close to the airport (and anyone who has ever missed a connecting flight understands why).

If all of this is turning you off from visiting the neighborhood (outside of landing in an airplane and catching the first cab you can get), I don’t blame you one bit. O’Hare is known for its congested runways, and personally I wouldn’t want to live too close to a place constantly filled with the sounds of Boeing jets landing and leaving.

There ARE nearby residential areas, and there is a high concentration of shopping and entertainment outlets in the area – which are something I look for in a neighborhood, but they aren’t the trendy kind – more like the American chain kind. There are a few restaurants of note, like the Italian Da Luciano or the French Chez Colette, but I still say that this neighborhood really owes its popularity to the airport – which is the kind of place one visits merely out of necessity.
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Nothing to Brag About"

This South Side neighborhood is nothing to brag about – what you’ll find here are a lot of bare-looking brick duplexes, single family homes and the occasional tree (some are pretty impressive evergreens).

In the north area of the neighborhood, parking on the streets in this residential area is relatively easy, and the streets stay pretty quiet in this relatively middle class area. The southern area of Burnside is more of a working class area, and some would say that it is a sketchier part of town.
The neighborhood hasn’t seen much changes in recent years, but the low real estate values are beginning to attract a few developers – especially to renovate old homes in the area. If you want to move into the area, it’s best to do so pretty soon, as rumor has it that prices won’t stay low for long.

On the plus side, the area is affordable, but on the down side, it is extremely residential and it’s the kind of Chicago neighborhood that makes you glad to own a car. There’s no reason to visit Burnside if you are only in Chicago for a few days – and if you do find yourself here, take precautions to stay safe.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"It's okay in Clearing"

Like that other neighborhood close to the airport, Clearing has attracted a number of strip malls, stores and restaurants that wouldn’t be there without the presence of the Chicago Midway International Airport. Outside of the airport action, Clearing is a residential ‘hood with an architectural population of single family homes and rows of bungalows.

Clearing may have some crime creeping in from surrounding neighborhoods, but the presence of the airport and the jobs and business that it brings to the area make Clearing one of the safer South Side Chicago neighborhoods.

To the naked eye, Clearing is a clean area – but beware that the surrounding areas are not as great. Also, prospective residents may want to consider the constant air traffic noise of Clearing’s skies.

In my opinion you are better off heading to other areas for a real taste of Chicago – the businesses that are set up here are often outdone by restaurants and shops elsewhere in the city. With that, I’ll leave a suggestion for anyone stuck at the airport with time for a short walk or cab ride: visit El Gallo Tapatio on W 63rd St.
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Not worth visiting"

This South Side area is not especially safe – there have been recent shootings (one outside the local high school in January), so watch your back in Gage Park. Overall, it’s not a place worth visiting if you only have a few days in the city, and it’s not a place where you would want to move if you could afford not to live here.

Gage Park is a working class neighborhood whose streets are mostly lined with bungalows of the sort that are pretty popular in the surrounding neighborhoods. They look okay from the outside, if not pretty standard, and the streets stay relatively maintained.

The population here consists mostly of working class Hispanic people, and there are nearly a million Mexican restaurants out here. There is at least one taco stand (that I know of) that lives up to expectations – Elias Tacos on South Kedzie Ave. In addition to Mexican cuisine, the area seems to stock plenty of car dealerships and auto mechanic shops, giving it a kind of industrial feel. It’s not a place where you want to be left alone after dark.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Just now

"A mixed bag"

If any neighborhood in Chicago deserves a mixed review, it’s Garfield Park. It’s actually divided into east and west sections on the community board, and one side of the divide differs slightly from the other. Whereas the West Garfield Park area is clearly being gentrified as the area around the Loop becomes more expensive and drives more residents further from the lake, East Garfield Park hasn’t yet seen this action.

So the western half of Garfield Park as earned a reputation as a hipster magnet and an “up-and-coming” spot, but it has yet to completely overcome its working class roots.

The local conservatory is, in a word, inspiring. If you go to Garfield Park for any reason, make sure you stop by this, one of my favorite Chicago attractions. (Currently the conservatory is hosting a tropical flower show and honey bee presentations.)

Even if there are hipsters moving in, Garfield Park remains a pretty rough neighborhood, so I wouldn’t recommend that anyone unfamiliar with the area go alone. I always recommend to city visitors that they keep to more established neighborhoods, as the “up-and-coming” ones aren’t always what you would imagine.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • 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
Just now

"Average Spot Away from the Action"

Hermosa is pretty far from the real city action – there’s nothing interesting around, unless you count Walt Disney’s birthplace as such. You are of course still in Chicago, and should take the usual precautions, but it seems like an okay neighborhood to me (I stayed here briefly when I first moved here, but haven’t been back since without any reason to visit).

I wouldn’t recommend Hermosa as a completely safe place – it is a working class area which has been noted in the past (a few decades back) for some violence, and it’s not as stable as some of the more established Chicago neighborhoods. A potential resident may want to take advantage of low cost properties and constant development in the area, but a tourist would probably not bother themselves with Hermosa. (If you do decided to move here, remember that you are probably going to be leaving the area a lot of if you are the type who likes to go out on the town.)

Since Hermosa is pretty family-oriented, nightlife and bars in the neighborhood aren’t what they are in other parts of the city (think Wicker Park), and you’re unlikely to find much in terms of great places to shop, either.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"The New Wicker Park?"

Yet another “up-and-coming” Chicago ‘hood (though it’s not quite there just yet). Word on the street is that Humboldt Park is going to be the new Wicker Park/Bucktown – because of the influx of starving artist types. (Wicker Park/Bucktown isn’t as cool these days for starving artist types – all the commercial things springing up in those neighborhoods are apparently drawing in a yuppie crowd.)

Anyway, some parts of Humboldt Park are nicer than others – there are places that can be a little sketchy at night, so be careful if you’ve never been to the neighborhood. It’s weird: each block in Humboldt Park is pretty different from the next. There are a number of families that live here, and there is still a certain amount of crime, which is what I’m beginning to think “up-and-coming” really means – that artist-types are moving into a neighborhood where crime is beginning to drop.

Paisano’s is a good taco place in the area, and Bite on Augusta is worth checking out as well. There are also a number of little bars in the neighborhood – hole-in-the-wall type places with a really laidback vibe. Just be careful walking home!
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
5/5 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 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Diverse Yuppie Haven"

Those of us who live in Logan Square love it, and with good reason – crazy development has been going on here in the past few years, including the establishment of a number of new art galleries, bars, coffee shops and restaurants.

Residents of Logan Square have a strong sense of community, with the presence of their our own farmers market co-op and Logan Square Kitchen, which offers a nice space for meet-ups. Thrift stores are everywhere, and Milwaukee is home to a lot of cool places for movies and music and sushi. There are two neighborhood festivals, Metronome and Milwaukee Avenue Arts – and even if Logan Square has gotten pretty gentrified, it hasn’t lost its edge.

The population remains somewhat diverse (you cans still hear the occasional Spanish or Polish being spoken), and there is a decent choice of multinational cuisine available in the neighborhood.
Nightlife here is outstanding – there are so many bars within walking distance. Really, there is a lot within walking distance; just about anything you can imagine is convenient to get here. It’s also easy to get to the lakefront from here – a number of buses will take you there.

There really is a unique energy that makes Logan Square my favorite Chicago neighborhood.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Check out Chicago Lawn!"

Chicago Lawn: this South Side park may see the occasional crime statistic, but for many it’s a source of fond memories of sledding, fishing and jogging. On the east side of the park you can find every outdoor activity you can imagine – softball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, a running track and soccer fields are there for residents’ use, and the west side of the park is the side where you could take your book and just relax in the greenery or by the lagoon. (There is also a nine-hole golf course on this side, which I hear is not the most clear-cut of courses.) Summer sees a lot of roadside BBQs going on in the area.

On the down side, gang signs can be found tagged on nearby buildings and there is a strange lack of parking signs around. But: in recent years Mayer Daley really did a number on this park, cleaning up a place that used to have too much garbage, homelessness and prostitution in its midst.

People are always fishing in this park – though I’m not sure what exactly they are catching or if they actually can eat the fish.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Big but Boring!"

This is a very stable community in that people who live here never seem to leave (although I’m not exactly sure why). While a lot of the homes here in this suburban-like section of Chicago are very nice indeed, there isn’t a lot going on in Montclaire that could keep someone like me – who likes to go out evenings – in the area for very long.

To be fair, though, Montclaire is where some of the largest homes in the entire city are located, and a family that somehow scores one (and doesn’t mind living on the city fringe) is lucky indeed, since they hardly ever go on the market. It’s even better that these huge Victorian, Tudor and Georgian homes go for relatively cheap ($250,000 - $350,000) considering how beautiful and spacious they are.

There are some good schools in the area, and this is where Shriner’s Hospital is located as well. Shopping tends to be of the strip-mall variety, like what you find at the local Brickyard Shopping Center (where they have a Target, Lowes, McDonalds – you get the picture).

It may not be very exciting (and, let’s face it: the reason you move to or visit a city has a lot to do with the pursuit of excitement), but residents seem to enjoy it for what it is.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Chicago Oasis"

Morgan Park is on the southwest South Side of Chicago, but it’s different from many South Side neighborhoods in that it feels less like an inner city area and more like a little village or something. It’s a middle class place, and unlike a lot of surrounding Chicago neighborhoods you can actually walk around the shopping district (as opposed to driving around it) and visit its shops and offices on foot.

It’s a predominantly African-American (with some Irish Catholics thrown in the mix) middle class area, and outside of the shopping district it’s very suburban-feeling (as most of the neighborhoods on the outer edge of the city limits tend to be). Housing options start around $100,000 – which isn’t too bad, but consider that you may have to travel through some pretty bad neighborhoods on a trip to North Side Chicago, or even on the way to the lakefront.

Surprisingly, the area around Morgan Park used to be a sort of vacation spot for the city’s elite – but these days it’s not much of an attraction for the well-to-do.

Some residents complain of the traffic and congestion surrounding the Morgan Park Academy, who like to block off streets so that the children can leave safely. The school itself is known for being a top-notch educational facility, if pricey.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Stability and Plenty to See"

Tourists looking for a little bit of a break on hotel prices might want to check out this neighborhood, since it’s close to the real Chicago action (the Loop, Magnificent Mile, etc) but a little bit cheaper than staying right IN the action. And those who are interested in parks and museums will find them here as well (like the Shedd Aquarium or the Adler Planetarium). Near North Side is close to the White Sox’s field, as well as a number of historic buildings – and as an added bonus, the neighborhood is not nearly as congested as the Loop.

Near South Side is less expensive than neighboring North Side neighborhoods, and it keeps things competitive. A lot of new construction is going on in the area, but hopefully the historic homes and buildings will be kept safe by the city.

The neighborhood has seen just about every kind of condition, but these days – with all the new condos and apartment buildings going up – the Near South Side enjoys a certain amount of stability and is a place that I recommend visiting.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Decent Chicago Slice"

The Near West Side is a pretty okay slice of Chicago life – it’s near the Loop and it’s full of historical spots like the Hull House neighborhood, Little Italy and Greektown. There are endless places to eat in the area – especially in Little Italy and Greektown – and it’s also home to quite a few towering office buildings.

The neighborhood is one of those being gentrified – and of course the closer you get to the lakeside, the more gentrified, safe, and “up-and-coming” it becomes. It’s not a bad area at the moment, but it’s not very high end, either. There are some interesting-looking restaurants on Ashland, and you can check out live music at the Cobra Lounge just about every night.

I am always hearing about good deals on condos in the area, because many were recently built by developers who ended up with a negative cash flow. Keep in mind that this neighborhood does vary quite a bit – the further you move west, the less in-transition it is.

There’s a farmers market on Sundays in Ellen Gates Starr Park, the only one of its kind in the neighborhood. And the area is definitely not without culture – the Chicago-style hot dog, deep dish pizza, Chicago blues and the Blues Brothers all have ties to the Near West Side.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Caution, Chicago Newbies"

Empty lots have recently been transformed into new developments in Oakland, but in my opinion the neighborhood still has plenty of room to grow. And in the vernacular of the current economy, the phrase "new developments" often means new condos and high rise apartment buildings, which is true for this South Side, lakeside area. It’s not a cheap place to live, but the population remains pretty diverse – many of the African-American residents have been in Oakland for a long time.
The neighborhood has been on the up-and-up since a number of housing projects were razed to the ground in the late nineties (thanks, Obama), but it remains so residential that you have to travel outside of it for a lot of things.

Because of its South Side locale, I wouldn’t advise that any newbies just go strolling into the neighborhood without supervision. It isn’t the roughest neighborhood, but it’s not the best Chicago has to offer, either. Use caution when in the area. And, on a personal level, I would probably never move here myself. Houses – many of which are newly built or newly renovated – are pretty cheap out here, but with good reason.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Some Love for Portage Park"

There are a lot of things planned for the actual park (like a new playground), and currently it hosts one of the best Chicago Park District swimming pools (it is beautiful, enormous, and will only put you back $40 for a seasonal membership). The surrounding area can be loud with traffic and car stereo music – and there isn’t much space in Portage Park to get away from the racket.

Early fall is my favorite time to visit Portage Park, because the leaves are changing colors, and it is a tad bit less packed with people and subsequent noise. At the entrance on Irving and Linder, there is a little botanical garden where you can both wander or linger (there is some hard-to-find seating). The park also has football fields, baseball fields and a field house where both the pool and a boxing ring are housed.

It’s a nice place to visit during the day, but don’t linger in the park after the sun goes down. That really goes for any Chicago park – you just don’t want to risk getting jumped.
The surrounding North Side neighborhood is a working class area, but there is a strong sense of community there – as well as a lot of bungalow housing units and quaint little churches.
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Beautiful Place"

This is a nice area in the upscale Lincoln Square area – a North Side neighborhood with a reputation for affluence. There are a lot of shops and courtyard-style apartment housing (a staple of the community), and the area enjoys a lot of transportation access (the Brown Line, Metra, and a whole lot of buses) and it’s a quick ride to the Loop.

The area is beautiful – tree-lined streets, parks, cleanliness, the whole bit – and Lincoln Avenue hosts a range of trendy and upscale restaurants. Recent years have made sure that Ravenswood enjoyed something of a real estate renaissance – it is practically overflowing with (high priced) bungalows, flats and condos. Some of the neighborhood is only recently gentrified, but don’t let that deter you from visiting – this neighborhood is doing very well for itself at the moment.

One of my favorite stops in Ravenswood is Ravenswood Used Books on North Lincoln Ave. It’s a chaotic-seeming cubby-hole of books – but I (and many other neighborhood dwellers) love it. The guy who runs it generally knows what is in there and where it is, so if you are doing more than browsing you need not worry!
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
Just now

"Why bother?"

Not my favorite neighborhood – the landscape/architecture in the area is sparse and banal, and even if legend has it that improvements are being made, Roseland is still a neighborhood of few opportunities. The crime rate has stayed high, and someone with better options is better off not moving in – or even visiting.

There isn’t much out here by way of commercial activity – just a lot of run-down residences. It’s not a place that I consider safe, worth visiting, or even worth driving through. There is some debate as to whether Roseland is actually one of the worse-off neighborhoods in Chicago (Englewood is definitely on that list), but I’m putting it on my list. Lately there has been a lot of stuff in the news about how neighborhoods like this see a lot more murders (mostly due to gang violence) during summer weekends – a scary fact to have to face.

If you can avoid Roseland at all (and you should be able to do so), please do. You’ll be that much safer.
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
Just now

"Not a Safe Bet"

Once the home of the now-defunct steel mills, South Deering is still home to a lot of industrial areas. Of course it is not without residencies, either, but deep in the South Side is not where I would care to live – even if this neighborhood IS home to one of the best seafood places in Chicago.

Currently there are a lot of robberies and burglaries that go on in South Deering – not surprising for a neighborhood with so many industrial nooks and crannies. South Deering has yet to come out of the economic depression that hit it when the mills closed, and I can’t say that I blame people for not wanting to move in or develop the area. It’s just not a safe bet or a good investment.

That said, Calumet Yacht Yard on East 95th Street has been in the neighborhood for more than half a century, and has seen the neighborhood undergo plenty of changes. It’s one of the best seafood markets in the entire city, and you won’t have to wait very long in line due to the out-of-the-way nature of its location. Just make sure you don’t stay in the neighborhood after dark.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Maintains that Eastern European Edge"

I love a neighborhood that hasn’t gone the ways of extreme capitalism – one that has its share of mom-and-pops style restaurants and shops. In other words: I really appreciate the Ukrainian Village for what it is. It’s a safe middle class haven, and even if it is being gentrified more and more these days, it still maintains a certain amount of eastern European style. Lately, due to all of the renovation going on, people have started referring to this area as “East Village.”

It’s close to the trendy Wicker Park (can’t beat that), and only about ten minutes from the infamous Loop, with Blue Line and Metra transportation available nearby. Lately there have been a lot of new restaurants and shops springing to life, making the Ukrainian Village able to hold its own when it comes to things to do and enjoy.

There are some gorgeous Ukrainian churches (complete with spires) and old-fashioned housing in the area, with more modern buildings thrown in the mix. Visitors with time on their hands should do themselves a favor and take a walk around this eclectic and entertaining neighborhood. And if you happen by, do yourself a favor and check out the Sweet Cakes Bakery on North Damen – it may be a bit pricey, but every bite of their homemade vegan goods is worth the extra change.
SteveNike
SteveNike One great benefits of the Ukrainian Village is the active community participation. There are over 700 neighbors talking about what’s going on in the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Watch and on the sister page about the community. http://www.facebook.com/groups/UKVillageWatch/
2yrs+
SharonM7
SharonM7 I'm looking for an apartment for my daughter to rent. She is a student at Columbia College. She's out of the country until the end of August and I need to find it for her for September. Can you recommend a rental agent in the Ukranian Village?
Jul 18, 2016
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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 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
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"Diverse, Fluctuating Area"

A warm Chicago community, West Lawn is also known for its diversity and constant fluxuation. Like many of the neighborhoods on the far west side of Chicago, West Lawn feels more like small town or suburb than a city neighborhood – but of course that’s the reason why many families move out here. That is not to say that I am a big fan; personally, I enjoy city life too much to live in an area that feels like the ‘burbs.

But West Lawn is something of a unique take on an outskirts-of-Chicago-style neighborhood in that the people in it are very easy going and helpful. It’s a working class neighborhood populated by a variety of ethnicities and home to the Balzekas Muesum of Lithuanian Culture, the delicious steak tacos of Zacatacos and the classic pizza of Palermo Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria.

Residential homes here are pretty standard-looking – nothing special, and the shopping tends to be of the stripmall sort (Sears, Old Navy, Etc) found in the Ford City Mall. It’s more a place that only someone who lived there could grow to love (and maybe only in retrospect), and not one that a visitor would care for very much.
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
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"Not my first choice"

Auburn Gresham is a South Side neighborhood full of bungalows and featuring the city’s busiest bus port. As far as public safety goes, be on your guard. Crime has gone down here in recent years because of community development – but if you aren’t familiar with the area, I wouldn’t recommend going alone. Then again, I’m not sure what would bring you out here unless you already lived here. Housing may be affordable, but there are nicer neighborhoods in Chicago with affordable housing.
I’ve heard that the new bungalow housing units built in Auburn Gresham are pretty impressive, but the surrounding area is what kills it for me. There is little to no commercial activity – and what is there is not that great. A few years ago when the housing bubble burst, this was a place full of foreclosure notices.

As far as crime and gang activity are concerned, Auburn Gresham is not the most dangerous place – Roseland, Englewood and West Pulham are worse – but it’s not a nice neighborhood, either. Like I said, there are better Chicago neighborhoods even if you are on a pretty tight budget – like Ashburn or Chicago Lawn.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
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"Historic Bronzeville is turning over a new leaf"

Once a relatively gritty representation of a Chicago ‘hood, the Bronzeville of recent years is on the rise, as new residents continue to stream in and renovate the historic neighborhood. Also on the rise is Bronzeville’s nightlife, as these new residents seem to be in the business of opening bars and diners.

If you’ve heard of the Harlem Renaissance that happened in that other American city, then it’s not hard to picture what went on in Bronzeville from the 20s until the 40s: a newly inspired African-American wave of culture. At the time Bronzeville was referred to as Black Metropolis. For this reason there are many tourist stops in this neighborhood, and a great deal of culture walks are given for those who prefer to visit such stops with a historical guide on hand. (A good place for history buffs to get started is on Martin Luther King Dr. between 25th and 35th streets, where a number of plaques commemorating many of the neighborhood’s finest residents line the sidewalk.)
If you get hungry while in the neighborhood, I suggest checking out Alice’s Bar-B-Que or Harold’s Chicken Shack.
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
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"Get to the Loop!"

As a resident of the city, I’m not sure I would ever consider living in the Loop – the place is just too busy for my residential tastes. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend the Loop to anyone who was briefly visiting Chicago, had just arrived to the city, or just needed something to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The Loop is likely the best place to feel that you are in the midst of the city skyline – architecture towers over you, including the Sears Tower (FYI: much of this area was leveled by 1871’s Great Chicago Fire, making room for much of what is here today). This is also the home of the Art Institute and Millennium Park – home of that shiny silver sculpture better known as Cloud Gate (you know the one, just about everyone who has ever been here takes a self-photo of their own distorted reflection in it.)

Even the streets in the Loop are tourist-friendly – they are laid out on a grid, making it easy to understand which way you are headed, even if you aren’t very familiar with the area. Many hotels are to be found in the area, and if you can afford to stay here then I recommend that you do – you’ll be close to many of the best tourist attractions Chicago has to offer.
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
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"True eclectic mix"

Today’s Hyde Park hosts just about something for everyone. You probably know that this is the neighborhood where the University of Chicago is located, and subsequently you will understand why there are so many student-types milling about and living in the area. There are also the usual bars and diners that cater to the college types – but there is something of a well-to-do vibe here as well. Hyde Park is also home to some of the city’s upper crust, who live in sprawling lakeside homes here.

In my opinion, Hyde Park is one of Chicago’s more attractive neighborhoods – and there are some very random things to take note of here. The parakeet population, for one: for some reason both Harold Washington Park and Jackson Park are home to the colorful tropical birds, which are both out of place and something of an anomaly. No one is sure how they survive the cold weather Chicago is known for. Chicago University itself is a place to be seen – many of the buildings resemble the stately buildings of Oxford. (And it’s of no small consideration that Rockefeller himself contributed much to the early days of the University.)
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
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"The Midwest Mexico"

Even as city neighborhoods go, Pilsen is on the loud side – as well as on the dirty side. Rumor has it that Pilsen is the largest Mexican community in the entire Midwest – and I can't help but believe the tale. Besides that, there is a large artist population here, which has brought with them a number of galleries that are a must-see for any collector.

I would recommend this neighborhood to both tourists (who can check out the neighborhood’s colorful murals and galleries) and locals (at least, those who want to join the area’s artist community).

One of the coolest things that goes on here is the Pilsen Art Walk – on the second Friday of every month local artists play gallery hosts in the area around South Halsted and 18th Streets. It’s completely free and there are about 30 or so galleries that take part.

And as this is one of the most Mexican places around, it’s a good suggestion to take in some of the local food fare at places like Taqueria El Milagro (check out the chile relleno taco) or Nuevo Leon Restaurant (good service and decent prices).

Since many Chicagoans find Pilsen on the sketchy side, take more than the usual precautions. The area where Pilson meets Little Italy is especially unsafe, being full of vacant lots and train tracks. Pilsen is a neighborhood that is best driven to - and from.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
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"Chicago does Little Italy in style"

If it seems like Little Italy is getting smaller by the second, that may be because it is! But this is still the place to drop by if you are in search of ethnic Italian goods – like groceries, bakeries and of course restaurants. These days University Village seems to be unstoppable as it takes over Little Italy, so that the two have become pretty blended in the northeast area of Little Italy. But the Old World draw of Little Italy is still holding on, with style.

Chicago’s Little Italy is not your city’s Little Italy – ours features just over ten city blocks of pure, unadulterated Italy. The aforementioned northeast corner of the neighborhood is a bit more modern, because of University Village’s encroachment. Newer additions to the area include condos and townhouses. Gentrification is another factor in the neighborhood’s slow disappearance, and its proximity to the Loop is helping to keep the rents pretty high.

If anything, the area attracts more tourists and holds on to fewer old-time residents. But visitors continue to find the goods on Taylor Street, which is brimming with pizza shops and home to Mario’s Italian Lemonade, known for the authentic beverage boasted of in its name.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
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"Caters to young twenty-somethings"

Taking its name from the University of Illinois, University Village – along with neighboring/semi-integrated Little Italy – was one of the first Chicago neighborhoods, and today is mainly a residential spot. Landmarks here are few and far between, but there are a couple of things that the casual visitor might be interested in seeing, including Barbara’s Bookstore (which houses stacks and stacks of used books) and Mario’s Italian Lemonade (which is in the area that is somehow both University Village and Little Italy).

As this neighborhood is home to a university, you can expect it to be brimming with young twenty-somethings almost around the clock – and of course local businesses take this type of clientele into consideration. As this area caters to them, students especially find it endearing, but if you are past the average grad student age, you may want to look into real estate in another locale.
There are a lot of commercial chains springing up in University Village (read: Starbucks), and overall there isn’t a whole lot of (in my opinion) unique activity going down that would interest an out-of-town visitor.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
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"Multiple personalities"

As a history nerd, I’m very partial to Lakeview. It’s not only one of the more diverse Chicago neighborhoods – with a number of greatly varying enclaves within the neighborhood – but the area’s street names contain in them a certain amount of history. (Just about every street was named after someone who has made a significant contribution to society.) Within Lakeview there are unique sections of the neighborhood: Lakeview East, North Halsted, West Lakeview and Wrigleyville.
It’s the latter that is the big tourist draw, of course – and no doubt sports fans don’t mind checking out Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. This is also a great area, naturally, for sports bars, and there are many of note, including Slugger’s and the Cubby Bear.

North Halsted is one of Chicago’s largest gay communities (it was actually the first officially recognized gay enclave), and there is no shortage of gay, lesbian and transgender hotspots – including bars, restaurants and clubs.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more diverse, there’s Lakeview East – a very gentrified slice of Chicago that has seen the recent installations of Whole Foods, DSW, and Borders.

Though diverse, Lakeview is a safe and generally very affluent area. It’s close to the tourist wonders of the Loop and its Magnificent Mile, and hosts a number of El lines and buses that will take you down the North Shore.
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
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"For the trendy and artistic"

Wicker Park has a reputation for attracting a young-ish, artist-type crowd, and naturally that vibe has brought in the trendy bars and restaurants in its wake. Along the southern side of Wicker Park – in and around Division Street – a number of boutiques, bars and restaurants are in constant motion. This action makes it one of the more trendy places to be in Chicago (along with Bucktown), and it’s not to be missed by the twenty-something set.

This amount of entertainment is not without its costs, however, and the rents continue to rise in Wicker Park. The working class – who had been here before the trendy set moved in on them – has been pretty much driven out, and the area is now looking more and more attractive to hungry real estate agents.

Residents enjoy farmer’s markets in addition to the diverse range of boutique businesses, and it should be no surprise to find a decent amount of organic shops catering to the environmentally-conscious types that inhabit the area (Crust, an organic pizza place, is among these and waaaay decent).
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
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"Too upscale for me"

Generally, the neighborhoods that are both situated on the North Side of Chicago as well as on Lake Michigan are upstanding, accessible and affluent – and Lincoln Park fits this description to a T. Architecture fans will love it here, because Lincoln Park is where a lot of Chicago’s oldest (and priciest) residential dwellings sit. As far as visuals go, Lincoln Park is spectacular. But when it comes to restaurants and shops, the crowd can be on the snobby side.

Yuppie is another image that comes to mind when the words “Lincoln Park” spring up, and it’s also home to the higher-end American business chains – so it doesn’t have as cool a vibe as someplace like Wicker Park or Bucktown. It may not be my scene, but I can’t really deny how beautiful it can be in the actual park (of the same name as the neighborhood), and some of the streets in the neighborhood have hardly any rivals in Chicago.

It may be expensive, but, okay, Lincoln Park does offer some great things – if your tastes are on the fancier side.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
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"Rolling suburbia-like hills"

Pretty far from the action, I’d say, but residents love this neighborhood because it’s not only one of the safest places in the entirety of Chicago, but it has great access to just about everything you need for city life. If you like to bike up and down hills, you may be interested to know that this is just about the only place around where you can find such things. A long-time stronghold for Irish families, Beverly is about as residential as it gets. Families enjoy easy access to groceries and banks, but no one in their right mind would be out here to party – or even sightsee. I can understand, however, why a resident of a busier neighborhood might enjoy rollerblading in the area. Not only are there great hills perfect for activities on wheels, but Beverly offers a kind of respite from city life – if you need a bit of a break from it. You’d have to be pretty established financially to invest in real estate down here these days – the area tends to be home to people who have lived here for quite some time.
5/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
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"The windy city's biggest tourist draw"

If you’re in Chicago for only a couple of days, you’d better find yourself in the Near North Side, especially if this is your first time visiting the windy city. It's likely that the biggest draw is the Magnificent Mile – that well-known shopping stretch between the Chicago River and Oak Street. It’s not actually a mile, but if you have arrived in Chicago with some money that you would love nothing better than to unload, you can come away with some great dining experiences and a number of high-end souvenirs. You can even stay up in a fancy hotel on the Mile, and from there you should not only have a magnificent (ha!) view of the city, but you’ll be close to the lake as well.

Don’t bet on moving into the neighborhood unless you are uber wealthy. And if you are uber wealthy, then I hope you are a fan of constant noise and city/tourist crowds – because neither of these things ever seem to leave the area. Still, it’s an exciting place to be for a tourist. This is actually where I stayed during my first trip to Chicago (I was thirteen), and I loved every second of it. Some of that thrill may be gone for me nowadays, but if you’ve never been, you MUST go.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
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"Once there were geese, now there is beer"

Real estate developers have descended on this, the only island in the Chicago River, as there were somehow a number of empty lots still here during the 80s. The island also has a number of industrial things going on, like the production of beer, which for some reason - to me, at least - seems to clash with the upper class residencies that have gone up here in recent years.

There continues to be some argument over whether new industries or new condos should be put up on Goose Island– but in the meantime visitors can check out some pretty decent places to dine out. Goose Island Shrimp House has awesome takeout shrimp dishes – maybe the best in the entire city. And since the island is home to breweries, you can stop into places like the well-named gastropub Goose Island and leave very happy. Goose Island Wrigleyville offers a much better sampling of pub food than competitors like Buffalo Wild Wings – and there is no way to overstate how outstanding the beer is. If you like beer, you’ll enjoy Goose Island immensely.

Residents of the island are lucky enough to enjoy a slice of Chicago that is near enough to the tourist action of the Near North Side and the epic area that is the Loop. (And if you ask me, the closeness to the brewery action makes this one of the best Chicago neighborhoods.)
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
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"President Obama would return"

Fun Edison Park Fact: President Obama dined at Zia’s Trattoria, on the neighborhood’s local restaurant row, for an episode of Check, Please! (although it did not air until after he became president). Later asked if the experience was worth a trip back to Edison Park, Obama said that he would surely go back.

This is one of those neighborhoods where families drift when they are ready to leave the bustle of city life and settle into a more suburban-type area. Those who love city life won’t be too far from the action (Edison Park is the furthest north and furthest west neighborhood in the city, but the Blue line will take you further into Chicago) if they move to Edison Park, but things are markedly quieter out here.

Surprisingly, though, this out-on-the-North-Side-fringe of a neighborhood is a big draw for nearby suburbs (and even fellow city dwellers) – especially the restaurant row part of it. It’s a cool place, laid back and completely lacking in snobbery. But, ultimately, people live out here because they want to be in an area that is more suburb than it is city – and Edison Park helps them do so.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
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"Chicago's Finest"

This area is nicknamed “Chicago’s Finest Community,” and if that little phrase makes you picture a stereotypically-suburban area, then it has done its job well. Because the Forest Glen community is brimming with moneyed types, its upkeep and tree-lined streets are something to be marveled at. Forest Glen houses many important Chicago political figures (high ranking members of the police, judges, politicians), and has as one of its many charms a certain amount of seclusion from the rest of the city. There is a lot of park action here, as well as a certain amount of forest near the Chicago river, which serves as one of the neighborhood borders.

Compared to the rest of the city, Forest Glen is on the up-and-up – it’s a VERY stable place, where residents are generally either as comfortable as or more comfortable than the rest of Chicago. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t expand much during a recession – so it’s a safe bet that Forest Glen will continue to be a neighborhood in which the wealthy stay situated.

If Forest Glen is home to a smattering of brick oven pizza places, none are much of a tourist draw. Like I said before, Forest Glen is something of a secluded place, and it seems as if it plans to stay that way.
1/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Schools 1/5
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"Why put yourself in harm's way?"

Don’t visit this South Side neighborhood unless you are going to visit your grandmother or some other unavoidable reason. Anyone familiar with the area knows that there is gang activity, prostitution, and other kinds of shady activity going down. Real estate listings in Englewood are low for a reason! The murder rate has remained high in recent years, making this neighborhood anything but a prize place. As recently as April there was a shooting caught on video – and subsequently posted to the internet, of course – where at least 16 people were caught in the crossfire. Like I said, this is not a place anyone need go without a specific reason in mind.

Luckily, there isn’t much there that would attract an unsuspecting tourist to this ‘hood. (Also: an unsuspecting tourist is a pretty far-fetched idea – Englewood’s reputation PROCEEDS it.) The neighborhood lacks decent housing, decent educational facilities, and even if there are groups working toward a better Englewood present in the area, their own facilities are even lacking. This place is in no way a safe bet or a good investment – if it’s possible, just stay away!
3/5
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"Tio Luis Tacos!"

Tio Luis Tacos is in Brighton Park, and if that’s all you know about the neighborhood that is still all the reason you need to surface on South Archer Avenue. This place is adored by the neighborhood dwellers, and it turns out that these people know delicious pollo en mole when they find it.
Brighton Park isn’t the most touristy of attractions, but it does just fine for itself with its gabled rows of houses and orderly streets. The ship canal is here – but it also serves as part of the Chicago waste management system, so beware. (This is also the site of the Asian carp scare, for all that ever amounted to.)
This neighborhood is a fair mix of things: mostly residential in the northern area, there are still a lot of industrial things going on, and the ‘hood also functions as housing for large transport vehicles. If anything, the residential areas dominate the neighborhood – but the commercial mix is an ever-growing force.
2/5
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"Fuller Park is unlikely to draw you in"

Yawn – that’s what you’ll find yourself doing if you stop by Fuller Park expecting a taste of the fast lane. (Unless of course you find yourself involved in the area’s crime, which is possible, and then you might really regret having shown up here at all.) Granted, the area has shrunk a great deal in recent times – and residents are doing what they can to expand, turning empty lots into shiny new condo buildings – but Fuller Park still isn’t much more than a residential outpost where a significant amount of people are merely renting their homes.
It features about one shopping center in its approximate four-block radius, and though the neighborhood may have a much more interesting history, these days the most interesting thing about it is its proximity to Comiskey Park (now supposedly renamed US Cellular Field, yes).
Sadly, you can’t expect much from Fuller Park, being one of the city’s smallest spaces. There is a rather high rate of poverty in Fuller Park as well, even if many are pushing for a bit of urban renewal and the highlighting of some of Chicago’s old school buildings.
3/5
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"Burnham Park for an outdoor experience"

This is an area that includes the famous neighborhood of Bronzeville, and whose Burnham Park is an incredible place to be all year round. If you can stand the icy wind, you will be impressed with the icy mounds that form on Lake Michigan during the winter. During the summer, the park’s lawns burst into greens once again and the view across the lake of the city skyline is an extra breath of fresh air. There is a skate park as well as bike paths here – making the recreational experience that much more enjoyable.
Then again, don’t hang around here at night – Douglas is not known for being the safest place in the city, and a certain amount of propriety and back-watching is required. In any case, it’s generally not a good idea to be hanging around city parks after dark anyway.
The residential homes in the neighborhood (of which there are many) tend to be charming and often vary greatly from their neighbors, making for an interesting architectural sight. The neighborhood is an appealing one, even if you hear varying opinions on just how safe it is.
4/5
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"Where tourists and residents routinely converge with the Chinese population"

One of the most bustling cityscapes around, Chicago’s Chinatown gives that other city’s neighborhood of the same name a run for its dim sum. If you are a fan of dim sum a la carte, then you should waste no time in heading over to Archer Avenue’s Phoenix – but be forewarned that this dumpling expert becomes crowded on weekends. You can practice your Cantonese here, as well as pick up goods from the Chinese medicine stores, groceries and gift shops. This is a neighborhood that happily greets both tourists and residents with its ever-expanding list of goods.
Exit the Cermak-Chinatown L stop, and you’ll be able to see one of the first neighborhood staples: a building adorned in Chinese-style dragons and topped with Chinese-style towers – a little taste of China in Chicago.
It’s obvious to anyone that this is a popular neighborhood – any place where tourists and natives routinely converge must be selling something good. For a bit of an upscale take on Chinese cuisine, check out Moon Palace on West Cermak Rd – their Shanghai style dishes are a good start to a spectacular Chicago visit.
2/5
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"Outside of the tourist agenda, Canaryville soldiers on"

Canaryville is outside of most tourists’ agendas, but this smallish community is an attractive one – often the streets are drawn up with perfectly landscaped yards and sprawling old trees in front of numerous easy-on-the-eyes residences. Back in the day (say, nineteenth/early twentieth century) this was not a place where anyone wanted to be, having a reputation as a generally rough area.
Today the place is still known for being less-than-friendly, and as one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods the lack of love for outsiders is almost understandable.

That being said, there isn’t much in Canaryville that is likely to attract a gaggle of outsiders – this South Side neighborhood stays pretty quiet in spite of its reputation to the contrary. It even seems a bit out of place, though it and the surrounding areas are predominantly Irish neighborhoods.

Perhaps that uneasiness about outsiders is what keeps Canaryville from really expanding its retail outlets, but in any case this is a place for residents and not for tourists.
5/5
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"You'll wonder if Chicago really is the Second City"

Bucktown is one of THE places to be for the young, hip and creative set. This neighborhood, in my opinion, helps Chicago undermine its reputation as the “second city” with its diverse art galleries, bars, cafes and its far-out-there range of shops (okay, it used to be a neighborhood where you would be lucky to find any corporate shops but there are some in Bucktown these days – but that doesn’t mean the place is anywhere close to becoming a strip mall).

In the modern era creative types are sharing Bucktown with college kids and young families (and of course the immigrant community that was there even before they were), as well as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel. If you’re into people watching, be aware that this is one of the best places to do it in Chi-Town. It’s probably best to find a spot for this in the evenings, when people really begin to mill around the neighborhood bars. Bucktown is also a draw for brunch-goers, as there are plenty of locations to get such a meal.
3/5
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"Tight-knit neighborhood with a customer-friendly shopping district"

Yet another residential neighborhood that is home to many of the windy city’s ever-expanding Hispanic population, Belmont Central is a relatively solid middle class ‘hood. (It’s also yet another Polish neighborhood that is finding itself less and less occupied by these immigrants.)

There is a pretty strong showing of shopping locales in Belmont Central – but I wouldn’t say that these are anything to travel out of your way for. That is not to say that shops here don’t see plenty of foot traffic, however, as area residents generally keep them in business (I say generally because, hey, it’s still a recession out there). If you ask me, it actually seems like this neighborhood isn’t much of a tourist draw because it doesn’t really want to be. That said, there are some decent Polish restaurants operating here, so it wouldn’t be too crazy to check the place out if you’ve already see all of Chicago you came to see and you still have some extra time on your hands.

Living space here is known for its affordability, and the area does offer an intense shopping district, truth be told: there you can lay you hands on just about anything you would want for your apartment or your apartment’s closet in the Belmont Central shopping district.
4/5
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"Where classic and old meets sleek and new"

This is one neighborhood where there is no shortage of Irish-style pubs. (Good ones include –but are not limited to: Schaller’s Pump on Halsted St. and the Bridgeport Inn on Archer Ave.)

Once home to the legendary Comiskey Park (and now featuring the un-legendary sounding US Cellular Field) – home of the Sox (well, sort of)! – Bridgeport is known for housing its fair share of city mayors and has become one of the most wanted neighborhoods on the south side. (The stadium is generally known as being in this neighborhood, even if it is actually one block outside of the eastern Bridgeport boundary.

Bridgeport is one of those Chicago 'hoods where I would take visiting relatives if they so desired to see some of the old churches and beautiful architecture that the city has to offer – this neighborhood is very stroll-worthy. Bridgeport extends its own deep roots in Chicago, however many modern luxuries continue to pop up. The landscape here – like much of the rest of the city – is changing as the new moves in and the old just seems to fade away. The mix can be somewhat confusing (is that old school church really nextdoor to a modern condominium?), and it’s my personal feeling that the newer architecture takes away from the old.
3/5
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"Not for Chi-town lovers of nightlife"

Barely in Chicago, Ashburn is the formerly the favorite location of city dwellers to dump the ashes from their fireplaces – hence the name. In the era of modern day heating systems, this neighborhood has become something of a racially diverse middle class community – populated by single family brick-and-aluminum-sided homes on grassy lawns. Ashburn greatly resembles a suburb – with rows of homes and commercial outlets in the form of malls instead of the typical city strips of shops and diners.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that Ashburn is without its own Chicago institutions, some of which are Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria (specializing in thin crust pizzas at this location since 1965), Rosario’s Italian Foods (family owned and operated shop dishing out sandwiches as well as take-away meats, cheeses and sauces) and Cake Walk (a bakery with especially good butter cookies).

Overall, however, Ashburn is not the most happening neighborhood, and it’s not the place I would select if I were going to show an out-of-towner around my city. I’m sure the neighborhood’s residents appreciate the area’s row-for-row peace-and-quiet, but the Scottsdale Mall isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day out on the town. So it's great if you're into the quiet family life - not so great if you're single and looking to move and shake it around Chi-town.
3/5
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"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
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"Avondale is still working on the up-and-coming thing"

Notorious for an ever-changing landscape, this working class neighborhood is home to single-family homes, walkups, newly built condos and townhouses, as well as a growing Hispanic community and an established Polish one. Avondale is known as one of those places that claims to be “up-and-coming,” without actually having a whole lot going on at the moment. As far as safety, Avondale isn’t the most dangerous place in the city, but it’s still in the process, shall we say, of being gentrified. Young professionals are moving in, even if the majority of the population is still part of the working class.

There are a lot of cool niche boutiques here – the nation’s first Islamic bookstore (and the first shop to list its wares online), Kazi Publications Bookstore sits on West Belmont Avenue and Hot Doug’s is a prime spot (on North California Avenue) to get a Chicago-style dog with a brilliant name (“the Elvis,” a Polish sausage or “the Salma Hayek” of the andouille sausage variety).

The Polish Village’s Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale is a celebration of sausage outlets, bakeries and restaurants – one of Chicago’s “Polish Patches.” Kurowski’s Sausage Shop – a renowned Polish grocer – is here, as well as the Paul Zakopane Harnas Restaurant. In short, Avondale is a curiosity worth peaking into – especially if you happen to be a sausage lover.
3/5
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"Archer Heights has the Polish goods"

Maybe you think of it as that Polish neighborhood – you can’t wander far without hearing Polish on the tongues of residents in Archer Heights – or maybe you know it as a place that resembles the sort of old-world south side Chicago ideal. Here you’ll find a few condos – marking the latest editions to the neighborhood – but mostly the Archer Heights real estate market offers older brick walk-ups.

Restaurant-wise, this Polish stronghold has the excellent Polish food you’d expect from such a place. Szalas Restaurant is no doubt the first place that most people think of when they think of Archer Heights eateries, but the Bobak Sausage Company is another stop that sees rather large dinner crowds for their buffet-style offerings. Bobak is both restaurant and grocery store – and notably authentic. If you’re in the area and you’re looking for a more Chicago-oriented, “southwest side” style treat, Nicky’s Hot Dogs on South Pulaski Road comes highly recommended.

Archer Park is one of the biggest neighborhood draws – locals can’t get enough of the baseball/softball fields, and the spacious lawns where residents bring their dogs and/or Frisbee games. Summer sees outdoor movie showings here, which tend to draw a family-friendly sort of crowd.
3/5
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"Diversity! Declining Crime Rate! But play it safe."

Albany Park has been undergoing some growth lately- since the recent past has seen the crime rates go down some – but it’s still a pretty sketchy area. It’s what you would expect from a city neighborhood that is both residential and commercial and incredibly ethnically diverse – it’s a neighborhood that is in constant flux, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s also a working class neighborhood that doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of tourist attractions, but is has been expanding quite a bit in terms of residency.

The scenery is not always the most pleasant – I’ve seen garbage on lawns and drunks wandering the streets – and the area east of Pulaski is not known for being incredibly safe. Most residents say that though the area is not the greatest in terms of crime, it is also not the most dangerous. Like I mentioned earlier, crime rates are in fact on the decline, and gentrification of the area is currently going on. You can definitely see that in the amount of condos popping up in the neighborhood – in a few more years Albany Park may be quite a different place.

My advice on being in the area is to play it safe – don’t be walking around with your headphones on late at night or anything, and be aware of your surroundings, like you should be in any urban neighborhood. I don’t feel more or less safe here than in other neighborhoods, but I wouldn’t be wandering around Albany Park late at night, either.

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