Altgeld Gardens is a modest, easy-going Chicago neighborhood less than a 20-minute drive from the Loop. Located in the southern stretches of the city and surrounded by suburbs, Altgeld Gardens has all the convenience of a Chicago community without the hustle and bustle of city living. The neighborhood park provides residents with a little bit of green space and the perks of an onsite gym, swimming pool, assembly hall and local basketball leagues. Summertime gospel festivals, neighborhood barbecues and annual parades round out the community events in Altgeld Gardens which makes this far south side section of Chicago a tight-knit group.
Altgeld Gardens Facts
Location: About 20 miles south of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: West Pullman
Boundaries: 130th Street to the north, South Cottage Grove Avenue to the east, the Calumet River to the south and Indiana Avenue to the west
Then and Now
On the cusp of Chicago city limits and the suburb of Riverdale, Altgeld Gardens was first pioneered by European immigrants in the mid and late 1800s. Vastly marshland and on the very southern tip of Chicago near the Illinois/Indiana state border, Altgeld Gardens land proved affordable and available. In addition to a price tag that pleased the frugal, the territory was desirable for its proximity to the Calumet River, which borders the neighborhood on the south. The river was a convenient means of transportation and allowed for easy access to other waterways which led to the emergence of Altgeld Gardens as a center of industry. U.S. Steel, the Ford Company, and Pullman (the train car manufacturer) all built factories close to the river and encouraged the development of residential housing and commercial property in the nearby vicinity. The localized industry helped Altgeld Gardens mature into a strong-willed working-class neighborhood.
In 1945, the first public housing projects in America were created. Altgeld Gardens and the Murray Homes consisted of almost 2,000 units of two-story row houses sprawling over 157 acres. The self-contained complex, which has been renovated in recent years, includes not only housing, but also schools, maintenance staff, and onsite social services and medical staff. A comprehensive renovation of the two developments began in 2005 and is scheduled for completion in 2009.
Through the years, Altgeld Gardens has brought forth several celebrity citizens. Tim Hardaway of NBA fame was raised in the neighborhood and famous journalist Scoops Jackson, writer for ESPN and other notable publications, made Altgeld Gardens his home as well.
Named after the celebrated African American scientist George Washington Carver, Carver Park (939 E 132nd St, 312-747-6047) was established shortly after the Altgeld Gardens housing projects were completed. Located in the southeastern corner of this far south side Chicago neighborhood, Carver Park provides green space and open air for exercise, leisure sports, family picnics, and relaxation. Its onsite gym will help you get in shape, whether you’re running on a treadmill by yourself or working out with a partner, and join your neighbors who come out in droves for the open swim, especially on hot Chicago days. Basketball leagues and plenty of grassy areas abound whether you’re more inclined to shoot a game of hoops, or relax under a tree’s shade with a good book. A community hall for small assemblies is also available should you ever need to call a neighborhood meeting.
Altgeld Gardens Real Estate
While Altgeld Gardens is about as far south as you can get without leaving the Chicago city boundaries, the neighborhood is quite accommodating with very affordable real estate prices and many modest single-family dwellings that offer both living space and yard space. Up and down the winding Altgeld Garden neighborhood streets you’ll find a mixture of split-level homes, raised ranches, and one-story half-duplex units. In the past several years the area has undergone comprehensive renovations to improve both the functionality of homes as well as their aesthetic value.
Generally speaking, housing options in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood start around thirty or forty thousand for a two- or three-bedroom unit or shared duplex, although the price can reach up to $85,000 for something in better condition. Single-family homes are also quite affordable with one-stories starting at under $50,000. Two-story houses tend to be more expensive with the high end ranging between $150,000 and
Mark Your Calendar
Summer in Altgeld Gardens is all about having a good time. If you want more than just a day in the park, check out some of these fun annual summer events held throughout the neighborhood.
Do you want all the great music and good-time feeling of the downtown Chicago Gospel Fest without all the crowds? Every year in late July, the Altgeld Gardens Community Gospel Festival (Carver Park, 939 E 132nd St, 312-861-8990) lets its little light shine. The music: contemporary and classic gospel. The people: fantastically friendly. The food: just as good as at the big fest, maybe even better, and definitely less expensive. Besides all the great tunes and widespread community bonding, there are family games to keep the little ones busy, and a slew of excellent community-centric speakers who keep the festival ringing from noon to 8 pm.
When the school bells start ringing and the summer is drawing to a close, the annual Back to School Parade and Old Timers Ball (Esther Wheeler Dr, 773-995-5217) hits the Altgeld Garden streets. Every year in mid-August a two-day festival lets residents get in one more wild weekend celebration before autumn is upon us. Day one includes a parade of community folks, classic cars, and the occasional float. The excitement kicks off around 10 a.m. on Esther Wheeler Drive. The next day is set aside for the Old Timers Ball (951 E 132nd Pl, 773-995-5217). No matter that year’s specific theme, it’s a cherished tradition that for less than $10 a head Altgeld Garden folks gather together for food, fun, and the sharing of memories.
Altgeld Gardens is a convenient 20 miles from the Loop with access to major highways and public transportation in close proximity. Unfortunately, though, it’s far enough from downtown that biking it to the city is not an option, unless you don’t mind a really lengthy and laborious commute.
For a calm commute of laid-back newspaper reading, much more our style, catch one of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses that go all the way from Altgeld Gardens into the thick of the city’s south side where transfers to CTA trains are free of charge. The #34 bus loops through the neighborhood and takes travelers north to the 95th/Dan Ryan elevated train stop were you can take the 'El' the rest of the way into the Loop.
For those who prefer commanding the helm of their own vehicle, the Bishop Ford Freeway (I-94) runs right by the eastern edge of Altgeld Gardens, so it’s easy to hop on at the 130th Street entrance and then make it up north to the Loop within 15-30 minutes. As always, that rush hour traffic can make or break your travel time.
School’s in Session
Altgeld Gardens offers academic options for new families with young children all the way through to the needs of young adults just about to leave for college. In addition to the following list, you can find out more information about the community’s schools at Chicago Public Schools and Great Schools.
Aldridge Elementary School – 630 E 131st St – (773) 535-5614
Carver Middle School – 801 E 133rd Pl – (773) 535-5656
Carver Military Academy High School – 13100 S Doty Ave – (773) 535-5250
Dubois Elementary School – 330 E 133rd St – (773) 535-5582
Here are some resources for getting your life going in Altgeld Gardens. Below is a list of everything the neighborhood has to offer, from where to find the right bus to the nearest public library.
Altgeld Gardens Community Gospel Festival – 939 E 132nd. – (312) 861-8990
Back to School Parade and Old Timers Ball – Esther Wheeler Dr – (773) 995-5217
JR Grocery – 505 E 134th St – (773) 264-0772
Key Food & Liquor – 13355 S Indiana Ave – (773) 928-7872
Rosebud Farmstand – 525 E 130th St – (773) 264-0831
Altgeld Library – 5150 N Kimball Ave – (312) 744-1933
Altgeld Gardens Drug Co – 974 E 133rd St – (773) 264-0787
TCA Health Inc. – 1029 E 130th St – (773) 995-6300
Police Station – 14030 Park Ave – (708) 841-2533
US Post Office – 14212 Cottage Grove Ave – (708) 849-2777
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Altgeld Gardens offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties including lofts, condos and townhomes, to name a few. In addition to Chicago real estate, you can get detailed neighborhood information from our comprehensive online Chicago neighborhoods guide. With features like dining, shopping, entertainment, and resources, we’ve done all the leg work already to make your home search that much easier. Now, when a listing in Altgeld Gardens Chicago catches your eye, you can read all about the surrounding area and what it has to offer, all without setting foot in the neighborhood.