A working-class neighborhood near Midway International Airport, Archer Heights has seen an increase in the number of manufacturing and transportation facilities within its borders over the years. The community has recently grown in popularity as Midway Airport has undergone major renovations, becoming a welcome alternative to busy O'Hare International Airport. The changes have prompted fresh interest in Archer Heights, and an influx of new residents is giving this family-oriented neighborhood a much more cosmopolitan feel. Corner delis and markets, a smattering of bars and restaurants, and a couple big box shopping outlets along 47th Street, Pulaski Road and Archer Avenue provide all the conveniences of city living. Still, backyard barbecues and neighborly chats over the fence are commonplace here, and are one of the reasons Archer Heights residents stick around for years.
Archer Heights Facts
Location: Approximately 7.5 miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Brighton Park, West Elsdon, Sleepy Hollow, Vittum Park, Garfield Ridge
Boundaries: I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) to the north, Central Park Avenue and the railroad yard to the east, the CTA Orange Line to the south and Cicero Avenue to the west.
Then and Now
Archer Avenue, like its diagonal cousin to the north Ogden Avenue, was an old Native American trail that was a frequented route to the bustling markets in the trade port of Chicago. The road was named for Colonel William Beatty Archer (1793-1870), a commissioner for the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which paralleled the road in the 1800s. Despite his claim to fame as a civil engineer, the land around his namesake avenue remained soggy prairie and sparsely used farmland until well into the 1900s. Neither the three railroads that encircled it in the 1880s
(Belt, Santa Fe and Indiana Harbor) nor annexation to Chicago in 1889 changed much of the district’s character or economic role.
Things began to change for Archer Heights when advancements in city transit made this southwest side neighborhood more accessible. Horse-pulled trolleys were introduced in the 1890s and later gave way to new electric streetcars in the first decade of the twentieth century. Connecting the neighborhood to the rest of the city, the incorporation of streetcars into Archer Heights prompted many thousands of immigrant laborers from Western Europe to settle in the neighborhood. Archer Avenue developed into a major thoroughfare, as did Pulaski Road, and they became the primary arteries that connected the neighborhood to the nearby stockyards and the business district downtown.
Early in the 20th century, land developers started to turn the south side of Archer Heights into a more residential area. 'Heights' was a crafty developer’s designation meant to impart a sense of prestige, even though the region sat no higher than any of the territory around it. Meanwhile, the land to the north was being eyed by industrial developers for manufacturing corporations. This split personality remains today with more then 60 percent of the Archer Heights’ area devoted to the manufacturing or transportation industries. After an initial post-World War II population boom, when manufacturing in the region attracted many people to move to the neighborhood for jobs at nearby factories and Midway Airport, the numbers waned in the 1960s as many residents left for the nearby southwestern suburbs.
Over the years, though, the neighborhood has remained steadfastly family-oriented, proud of its heritage and steeped in tradition. The permanence of the modest, well-kept housing combined with the large manufacturing presence has firmly embedded the character of Archer Heights and established it as a stable, self-sufficient community that continues to be a sought-after setting for many Chicagoans.
Although there is a considerable amount of industry in Archer Heights, green spaces are not entirely forgotten, and one of the best places to meet friends and family for a little outdoor fun and activity is
Archer Park (4901 S Kilbourn Ave, 773-284-7029).
Soon after the end of the Second World War, the Chicago Park District saw it fit to treat residents to more green space, in an effort to ameliorate the increasing congestion that resulted from the returning soldiers and the unprecedented baby boom. A good idea, we think. Archer Park’s facilities have been expanded and improved over the last 60 years, particularly since the 1970s when a fieldhouse was added to the grounds.
Today Archer Park is well over 13 acres, and offers dozens of options when we’re looking for a place to exercise or to just have a ball. Baseball and softball fields are always available for pick-up games and league play, but if you have a more serious workout in mind, check out the fitness center or gymnasium. Isn’t it in everyone’s New Year’s resolution to exercise more? Well, here you go. If hitting the ball around on the tennis courts is more your speed, grab a racket and a friend and find your inner Federer while working off the calories from that morning’s mocha latta.
Probably the most popular feature at Archer Park for the little tykes is the water playground with spray pool. It lets kids be kids as they splash away the sticky summer heat. Sorry parents, we’re not allowed in the spray pool, it’s just for children. We know, life isn’t fair. Something we can enjoy, though, along with the whole family, is the summertime 'Movies in the Park' program. If you’re like the many Archer Heights residents who enjoy good films, particularly a free film, grab a lawn chair and head over to the park around sunset for the show.
Archer Heights Real Estate
Archer Heights is a stable neighborhood of classic bungalows, raised ranches and brick two- and four-flats. Many of the single-family homes have small yards in front and back, and some also include garages—ah, the luxury. Although there are occasional condominium conversions, the area has not experienced the explosion in new condo and loft construction that other parts of the city have seen in recent years.
Residents of Archer Heights tend to be family-focused, and those who move here often stay for several years. In a survey given to neighborhood locals in 2005, almost 35 percent responded that they had lived in the community for five years or more. It’s no wonder, the tree-lined side streets, well-maintained sidewalks, and social neighbors provide a welcoming atmosphere for families with young children, newly married couples, retirees, and singles alike. We can picture it now… You’re out grilling steaks for dinner and old Mr. Jones from next door pops over the fence to chat about the weather. Sounds like a 1950s TV sitcom, but around here, it’s all reality.
Generally speaking, the average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family detached home in Archer Heights is around $244,000, with several nice properties in the $165,000 to $200,000 price range. Larger houses, that have four to six bedrooms, typically cost around $270,000, but there are many Archer Heights homes of this size that sell for between three- and four-hundred thousand dollars. Condos and townhomes are less commonly found on the neighborhood blocks around here, but homebuyers will find the selection of two-bedroom units typically costs around $130,000, on average.
What’s on the Menu?
With its distinctive neighborhood feel and strong Polish tradition, Archer Heights is a great place to find Polish delicacies, but it also has some Chicago favorites, like one of the best hot dog stands in the city and an increasing number of good Mexican restaurants.
Don’t be surprised if you are a bit intimidated by the menu selections at Szalas Restaurant (5214 S Archer Ave, 773-582-0300), a traditional Polish spot whose dishes includes things like warm sauerkraut, herring in sour cream, and wild rabbit in a chardonnay cream sauce. The friendly staff and hodgepodge of one-of-a-kind, museum quality objects such as a colorful winter sleigh actually used by Polish Highlanders makes newcomers feel both welcome and intrigued. Other specialties of the house, which are slightly less adventurous than the aforementioned, include osso bucco (veal shank), filet mignon, duck, and fresh trout. Although some of the options can be pricey here, not to worry: if the wallet is looking a bit thin, just check out the 'entrees to fit any budget' portion of the menu, where you’ll find several selections for under $8. Whether it’s the food or the great deals, Szalas has the recipe for success down pat, as this Archer Heights culinary staple is often packed with local regulars, many of whom won’t even bat an eye at the notion of having a little warmed sauerkraut and a beef roll for dinner.
One of the best meal buys on the south side of Chicago can be found at the Polish comfort food capital, Bobak Sausage Company restaurant and grocery (5275 S Archer Ave, 773-735-5334). The all-you-can-eat buffet, available from 11 am to 4 pm, has top noshing items like pierogies (Polish dumplings), stuffed meats and cabbage, white borscht soup, kielbasa and other sausages made right on the premises. And make sure to leave some room for the excellent kolacki cookies for dessert. The best part? You get all of this for $8.95. The dinner buffet has a slightly different and more extensive menu, but it’s only a buck more. After stuffing yourself, stroll the adjacent grocery store, which is stocked with a bevy of interesting ingredients for Polish cooking and plenty of snack food. For more Polish delicacies found just blocks from your front doorstep, stop by Gilmart (5050 S Archer Ave, 773-585-5514). This Polish deli is where we stock up on top quality meats, pierogies, Polish-made packaged goods, including flavored syrups, jellies, potato chips, and a variety of Polish beers.
If you’re looking for an authentic bite of Chicago on the cheap, look no further than Nicky’s Hot Dogs (4601 S Pulaski Rd, 773-523-4555). In addition to the traditional Chicago dog served with relish, onions, tomato slices, peppers, a pickle spear, and of course, no ketchup, they offer their Big Baby sandwich
(double cheeseburger with grilled onions), Italian beef or gyros, plus a nice cup of chili as well. When we’re looking for cheap eats this place is tops: nothing is over $5. Another great spot for budget-conscious diners like us is Las Asadas Restaurant (3834 W 47th St, 773-847-1000). Try the steak dinner plate, which includes a healthy portion of warm corn tortillas, beans and rice, avocadoes, and lime wedges. What really makes this Archer Heights taqueria stand out is that they grill the steak for their tacos and burritos, which makes for an altogether different flavor than meat that has been fried.
You know you’re an urbanite when your neighborhood has a Starbucks. Well, guess that means Archer Heights residents are enjoying the true metropolitan lifestyle, because there is a Starbucks Coffee (4701 S Cicero Ave, 773-838 8596) located on the western border of this quaint community. You probably already have a usual drink that you always order from this internationally recognized coffee chain, so we won’t waste your time with particulars. Just know that it’s there. Also a widely-popular and well-known franchise, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (4433 S Pulaski Rd, 773-869-9500) has an outpost right in the heart of the Archer Heights neighborhood. We won’t even get started on this one, because the way those succulent little rings of glazed heaven make our mouths water, we could go on for days about how delicious Krispy Kreme products are.
Best Shopping Stops
Archer Heights may not seem like the most likely place to find fanciful flavors from around the globe, but believe it or not, this neighborhood has some of the best-stocked and unique food markets in the city, and not only for Polish food. It also houses one of our all-time favorite stores: Target (4433 S Pulaski Rd, 773-579 2120).
When we’re inspired to make our own Chinese takeout, International Club (4000 W 40th St, 773-927-0100) has all our Asian cooking needs covered. Don’t let the name fool you though, no membership is required. Some people have compared this large, warehouse-like structure to an Asian Costco. If you have trouble finding an Asian item on the city’s north side Argyle Street or in Chinatown, International Club is sure to carry it. They have an excellent seafood selection, dry goods, and hard-to-find items like quail, and even microwavable dim sum. For reasonably priced and insanely fresh produce, stop by Pete’s Fresh Market (4343 S Pulaski Rd, 773-927-4300).
This is one of five locations throughout the city, and they specialize in fresh greens and perfectly ripened fruit, often at prices that are below those at major supermarket chains. It can get very busy on the weekends, so try and visit on a weekday or weeknight.
Night on the Town
Archer Heights specializes in neighborhood taverns, and one of the best is the Illinois Bar & Grill on 47th (4135 W 47th St, 773-847-2525). They have tasty burgers and fries and a good selection of beers on tap. Order your burger with grilled or raw onions and your choice of cheese. The fries come in a big basket, and their onion rings are nice and crispy. We are always impressed by the staff’s knowledge of sports, and the TVs are almost always tuned to the team of the day. So whether you want to catch that game, or just relax with a brew after a long day of work, this Archer Heights watering hole is at the top of our list for favorite local hangouts.
At the welcoming Tony O’s Studio 31 (5147 S Archer Ave, 773-585-7512), we can usually spot Tony or Santo, the two neighborhood guys who own this two-room nightclub, strolling around, greeting customers. One side has a strong nightclub feel, with a DJ booth and couches; the other side has a long bar and is a good place to enjoy a cocktail while chatting up the friendly bartenders. Monday nights is for karaoke. We know deep down inside you’re a budding rock star, so this is your chance to shine. Many Archer Heights residents also like Studio 31 because every night there are free darts and free Golden Tee, and there’s never a cover charge. Now that’s a deal that can’t be beat.
Mark Your Calendar
In the course of a year there are always those annual events that warrant a reminder on your calendar, something special that you wouldn’t want to miss. In the Archer Heights neighborhood, residents look forward to these yearly occasions that not only offer free family fun, but also support important community outreach programs that some Chicagoans depend on for survival.
Many of this neighborhood’s businesses center around the food industry, so it makes sense that one of the most committed organization in the city to helping those without food is in Archer Heights. The Greater Chicago Food Depository (4100 W Ann Lurie Pl, 773-247-3663) distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 600 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to almost a half-million adults and children throughout Chicago every year. Dozens of corporations and associations sponsor food drives, particularly around the holidays in November and December. Plus, when you live in the neighborhood, it’s easy to donate time at the depository on your own as well. So instead of marking a specific date down on your calendar for this one, maybe it’d be better suited for an ongoing engagement.
Free movies are always a great incentive to get out of the house, wouldn’t you say? So switch off that television (you can TiVo your shows), put the video games on pause, slip on some flip flops and head over to Archer Park (4901 S. Kilbourn Avenue, 773-284-7029) to catch one of the films shown outdoors during the Park District’s summertime 'Movies in the Park' program. Running throughout the warm weather months, this is your chance to gather up the family, it may require peeling them away from various electronic devices, and have a nice evening out that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Even though the movies are free, you do have to provide your own snacks. And don’t forget to bring a blanket or some lawn chairs, unless you don’t mind a few grass stains.
Archer Heights is not particularly an easy neighborhood to ride a bike in, but it’s easy enough to walk or drive the main thoroughfares, and there are plenty of public transportation options to get you where you need to go.
For anyone who has their own car, this southwest Chicago neighborhood has street parking on Cicero Avenue, Archer Avenue and Pulaski Road, and generally it’s not too difficult to find a spot, although be careful to read any nearby posted signs about restrictions. Some of the strip malls along Archer Avenue also have free parking for customers which can be handy for doing errands.
If you’re driving, the neighborhood is accessible from I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) using the Cicero Avenue exit or the Pulaski Road exit. Taking the Stevenson east to Lake Shore Drive north is probably the quickest route to downtown Chicago from Archer Heights, as long as the traffic cooperates. Motorists can also get to Archer Heights from I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) using the 59th Street exit. After exiting, travel westbound on 59th Street to Ashland Avenue, then north to 55th Street; turn west on 55th Street and continue until Pulaski Avenue, turn north and travel four blocks to Archer Avenue. Okay, so that sounds a little complicated, but trust us, after a week you’ll be able to get around like you’ve lived here for years.
There is no shortage of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus lines serving the Archer Heights neighborhood to transport residents almost anywhere in the city. One of our favorites is the #62, which takes us eastbound on Archer Avenue, and connects with the #29 northbound at State Street to put us right in the Loop. When we’re jetting out of town, we can take the same bus westbound (#62) and connect with the #47 southbound on Cicero Avenue for Midway Airport. Over on Pulaski Road, the #53A runs northbound all the way to Peterson Avenue and southbound to southwest suburban Merrionette Park. Get off at 51st Street for the CTA Orange Line Pulaski train station, which is located half-a-block west of Pulaski Road. Northbound the Orange Line travels to the Loop, southbound to Midway Airport.
School’s in Session
Families will find Archer Heights has a selection of public and private schools that range from grade school to high school levels, located right in the neighborhood. In addition to the following list, you can find more information about Chicago area schools on our Chicago Schools Guide.
Edwards Elementary School – 4815 S. Karlov Avenue – 773-535-4875
Curie Metropolitan High School – 4959 S. Archer Avenue – 773-535-2100
St. Bruno School – 4839 South Harding – 773-847-0697
St. Richard School – 5025 S. Kenneth Avenue – 773-582-8083
We’ve compiled a sampling of some of the places where you can get your bare necessities, from mouthwash to mangoes, postage stamps to pierogies.
The Apartment Lounge – 3806 W 47th St – (773) 927 0465
Korona Lounge – 4710 S Pulaski Road – (773) 523 6424
Club Karlov – 4058 W 47th St – (773) 847 8488
Tony O’s Studio – 31 5147 S Archer Ave – (773) 585-7512
Illinois Bar & Grill on 47th – 4135 W 47th St – (773) 847 2525
Howard’s Lounge – 4335 W 47th St – (773) 254 1577
Ted’s Place – 5030 S Archer Ave – (773) 735 1819
Starbucks Coffee – 4701 S Cicero Ave – (773) 838 8596
Celina’s Deli and Groceries – 5089 S Archer Ave – (773) 582-5759
Gilmart – 5050 S Archer Ave – (773) 585-5514
John’s Delicatessen – 4145 W 47th St – (773) 254 1606
Nicky’s Hot Dogs – 4601 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 523 4555
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts – 4433 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 869-9500
Mt. Pindos Restaurant – 4955 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 582-6066
Las Asadas – 3834 W 47th St – (773) 847-1000
La Cebollita – 4343 W 47th St – (773) 247-0910
Las Cazuela Grille – 4720 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 254-5770
Tierra Caliente – 4070 S Archer Ave – (773) 847-9755
Vina Del Mar – 5087 S Archer Ave – (773) 585-8008
Restaurante – El Muelle 4253 W 47th St – (773) 247 9811
El Palenque – 5173 S Archer Ave – (773) 585 6519
Angelo’s Stuffed Pizza – 4850 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 927-9355
Bacci Pizzeria – 5004 S Archer Ave – (773) 585 4400
Bobak Sausage Company and Buffet – 5275 S Archer Ave – 773-735-5334
Szalas Restaurant – 5214 S Archer Ave – (773) 582 0300
Arch Stone Restaurant – 5207 S Archer Ave – (773) 284-2325
Polish Highlander’s – Place & Banquet Hall 4808 S Archer Ave – (773) 523-7632
Greater Chicago Food Depository Food Drives – 4100 W Ann Lurie Pl – 773-247-FOOD (3663)
Movies in the Park – (June – August) Archer Park 4901 S Kilbourn Ave – (773) 284-7029
Jewel-Osco – 5320 S Pulaski Road – (773) 284-7700
International Club – 4000 W 40th St. – (773) 927-0100
Pete’s Fresh Market – 4343 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 927-4300
Abed Hamdan Grocery – 5035 S Cicero Ave – (773) 735 8515
Boles Martynowicz Grocery – 4110 W 47th St – (773) 847 3198
Handle Bars Gym II – 4881 S. Archer Ave. – (773) 847-0499
Hospital Emergency Room
Macneal Health Care Center – 5101 S. Kildare Avenue – (773) 581 9650
Archer Public Library – 5055 S Archer Ave – (312) 747-9241
Archer Park – 4901 S Kilbourn Ave – (773) 284-7029
Curie Park – 4949 S Archer Ave – (773) 535-2020
Strohacker Park – 4347 W 54th St – (312) 747-6723
Walgreens – 3943 W 47th St. – (773) 927 0239
US Post Office – 5645 S Archer Ave – (773) 767-1917
Hot Jams Record Store – 4814 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 581-5267
Markskis Cd & Tapes II – 5106 S Archer Ave – (773) 838-8448
Target – 4433 S Pulaski Rd – (773) 579 2120
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
There’s a lot of mystery involved in searching for a new home—it starts with the property and expands outward to encompass the street, the block, the neighborhood, the entire city! Every little thing matters from the color of the walls to the attractions of the town. That’s why a guide like this one on Archer Heights is so helpful to potential homebuyers. Without leaving the comfort of your desktop computer or laptop, you’ve got an extensive pool of information on all of Chicago’s neighborhoods that includes first-hand descriptions of dining, entertainment, shopping, bars, and events, in addition to lists of schools, hospitals, post offices, and gyms. We’ve done all the research to carefully craft this one-stop online spot, and create your hub for the real deal on Archer Heights. So as soon as a Chicago loft, condo, townhome or house catches your eye, you know where to come for the low down on the digs around that prime piece of real estate.