Burnside has a history founded in the sweat and toil of the railroads that converged in the area and provided early development. This strong work ethic has continued to grow steadily over the years as the community has created new job opportunities with the establishment of nearby Chicago State University. More recently, there has been some concern about the natural progression of the area's elderly population. But civic organizations are working to improve the neighborhood and attract young families and singles to Burnside. Sprawling parkland, a public swimming pool, plenty of intramural sports and clubs, outdoor concerts, and a penchant for fun, family-oriented activities keep this Chicago neighborhood lively and entertaining to residents of all ages and interests.
Location: Approximately 13 miles south of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Cottage Grove Heights, Calumet Heights, West Chesterfield, Rosemoor, Chatham
Boundaries: 87th Street to the north, former New York Central railroad tracks to the east, 95th Street to the south and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the west
Crime Statistics: Go to CLEARMap to search specific streets and areas for crime incidents
Then and Now
The Burnside neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago was originally known as Burnside Triangle because of the three railroad tracks that circumscribed its boundaries. As a result of its location along the trade route, Burnside developed as an industrial area that, like much of the city, was raised out of swampy wetlands. When the Illinois Central Railroad opened a commuter rail station in the neighborhood in the early 1860s, the community was officially recognized and was named after Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War general who also conveniently served as the treasurer of the railroad company. Just a fun fact to store away for future use: Ambrose’s bushy side whiskers were dubbed 'Burnsides" by locals of the day, an expression that was later reversed and introduced to the American lexicon as "sideburns."
Soon after the turn of the century, the growing area saw an influx of settlement as Eastern European immigrants poured in, taking unskilled jobs with the railroad companies and related industries. In little time, the fabric of the Burnside community was distinctly formed, as many of the residents were of similar ethnic background and worked similar blue collar jobs. The close-knit society in Burnside subsequently constituted itself as a somewhat isolated yet pleasant working-class residential neighborhood. However, during the years spanning both world wars, much of Burnside’s population—composed largely of Hungarians, Ukrainians, Poles and Italians—gradually left the area and were replaced mostly by middle-class African American families that had recently migrated from the southeastern United States.
Like much of the south side of Chicago, the neighborhood experienced a downturn beginning in the 1970s. Though it took several decades to recover and although the face of the community is considerably altered from what it once was, Burnside has again reemerged, returning to its roots as a comfortable and humble middle-class neighborhood.
The Burnside community is proud of their main neighborhood park that is more than just a collection of trees and shrubbery. This park is a social hub for the residents, providing year-round entertainment and relaxation opportunities.
Tuley Park (501 E. 90th Place, 312-747-6763) is a beautiful 30-acre park, equipped to accommodate any sort of recreational activity. The outdoor swimming pool and spray pool come to life in the summer and provide a great place to escape the heat. Needless to say, both are popular spots to cool off during those humid days, so be prepared for the crowds. There is also an abundance of tennis courts flanking the pool and pool building. On the opposite side of the fieldhouse are three softball fields and a baseball diamond. And, once the summer light is waning, Burnside residents like to head to the park for a free film screening sponsored by the Chicago Parks District’s citywide program "Movies in the Park."
When the weather turns nasty the Spanish-revival fieldhouse, situated grandly in the middle of Tuley Park, offers a safe haven for fun and games. A gymnasium full of workout equipment and basketball courts provides a great place to work off some stress and keep in shape during those long, lazy months. Winter basketball leagues for both young adults 14-18 and adults 18 and over form in September and play through December (a nominal registration fee does apply). If you can’t stop your six- to 10-years-olds from tapping their feet, be sure to take advantage of the free ballet lessons, also offered from September through December. At Halloween there is a Burnside neighborhood party in the Tuley Park Fieldhouse where young and old are welcome to scare up a good time. Conference rooms are also available upon request if your civic group or other organization needs a meeting spot.
Located smack-dab in the middle of Burnside is Lorraine Dixon Park (8701 S. Dauphin Ave., 312-747-6763). This long, narrow park sits next to the Metra/Illinois Central railroad tracks. The paths are excellent for a good walk, but there are also some nice spots to sit under a tree with a favorite book and listen to the low train whistles as lengthy lines of boxcars slide by on the nearby tracks. In the summer the park participates in the outdoor 'Concerts in the Parks' series, so we get to enjoy a bit of live music on special nights. Another smallish park in the neighborhood is the namesake Burnside Park (9400 S Greenwood Ave), which was opened for general use in the 1970s. The park is encircled by a short trail, perfect to cool down at the end of a vigorous jog or bike ride. The grounds also house two softball fields for summer pickup games and league play.
Burnside Real Estate
Burnside is a family-oriented neighborhood of side-by-side duplexes and townhomes, brick bungalows and ranches, and a few multi-unit condo buildings. Typically the streets are well-maintained and the homes are landscaped with fir trees and maples. Most of the single-family residences also have small yards in front and back, as well as garages. Many homeowners have lived in the neighborhood for decades, which gives it a tight-knit community feel. There are strong ties to Chicago State University and some residents attend classes at the nearby campus.
Older one-story houses with two-bedrooms in the neighborhood start at $55,000. Just a general rule of thumb: buyers should expect the majority of Burnside properties that are listed for under $100,000 to require a bit of renovation and upkeep. On the other end of the spectrum are new construction two-stories with four bedrooms that are listed for around $300,000. Many of these new model houses are found along the same neighborhood block and offer beautiful finishes such as hardwood flooring and upgraded amenities like granite kitchen countertops. Now, if you’re not looking at the more contemporary residential options, you’ll find the average sales price for a three-bedroom detached single-family home in Burnside is around $130,000. For a four- or five-bedroom place the average price goes up to about $200,000. Townhomes and multi-unit housing in the neighborhood starts under $100,000 and goes up to around $200,000.
What’s on the Menu?
Burnside has a good selection of fast food restaurants, pancake houses, barbecue joints and Chinese restaurants. From morning to night, the restaurants in the area keep residents fueled up and ready to hit the Dan Ryan running.
If you’re looking for a good breakfast served anytime of day Chatham Pancake House (700 E 87th St., 773-874-0010) is the place for you. In addition to pancakes, waffles, and French toast, they have amazingly fluffy egg skillets prepared with a variety of toppings from feta cheese to jalapeno peppers. The service is friendly and the homey interior makes this an ideal spot to bring the whole family. Another great family-oriented joint for breakfast, or lunch and dinner for that matter, is BJ’s Market & Bakery (8734 S. Stoney Island Ave., 773-374-4700). BJ’s boasts some of the best soul food offerings on the south side, an assertion that is supported by the loyalty of its many regular customers. From Tennessee pork BBQ to sweet potato french fries, this friendly Burnside establishment cooks up a mouthwatering menu of cuisine that demands a second visit—especially if you didn’t have room for the warm peach cobbler the first time around. On Sundays this south side Chicago staple hosts a popular buffet which draws out the crowds, but be prepared to wait unless you want to come early.
Sometimes we’re more interested in a hearty meal for the road, in which case we head over to Orbit Steak Fish & Chicken (9100 S. Cottage Grove Ave., 773-846-9000). There is nowhere to sit down here so you pretty much have no choice but to carryout. Funny-looking menus are pasted haphazardly around the walls with all of the different combinations available and methods of preparation. The food is tasty and plentiful, if a little greasy. The specialties include items such as fried okra and mushrooms, gyros, beef steak, fried chicken, Polish sausage, and the Philly chicken, which is a huge chicken sandwich prepared like a Philly cheese steak. Yum!
For those with healthy appetites, check out New China Express (718 E. 87th St., 773-488-3838). They pack those takeout cartons as if they were feeding an army! We are partial to the noodles with beef and broccoli, but New China also does a great black pepper chicken and egg foo young. Both are very fulfilling and the orange chicken is pretty good, too. Prices are reasonable; a good-sized dinner for two can be had for under $10. For barbecue there’s only one place in Burnside neighborhood you need to know about—the aptly named Rib Joint Inc. (432 E. 87th St., 773-651-4108). Even though it is strictly carryout, the ribs are top notch. Get a half-rack of the barbecued baby back pork ribs, which we find leaner than your typical ribs, or if you’re super hungry, the full-rack is $20.99. Seeing as the half-portion costs $16.99, most customers just spend the extra four bucks for the double order. That way there’s leftovers for a midnight snack or lunch the next day. While we always go for the traditional BBQ, for another approach, try the Chicago-style ribs, which are slow cooked in the original sauce—many of the Joint’s regulars prefer this preparation, so it has got to be good!
Best Shopping Stops
The shopping in Burnside is limited; however, the neighborhood does offer a small eclectic collection of specialty stores that often stock items hard to find elsewhere.
If you’re a fan of funky, off-beat outfits to express your true style, then you’ll feel welcome at Allison’s La Parisienne (8834 S Cottage Grove Ave., 773-994-8975). This shop specializes in secondhand women’s clothing such as skirts, jeans, blouses and pants, in addition to stocking an array of accessories like beaded necklaces, silver bracelets, and bangles. Many items are available for $20 or less, so this is the place to come if you only have a few dollars to spend but want to stay right on top of the fashion curve.
Mark Your Calendar
Most of the events in Burnside focus around what the local parks have to offer. And, because the Chicago Parks District does such a great job of organizing fun citywide affairs that the whole family can enjoy, neighborhood residents get to have a little live entertainment right in their own backyards.
If you’re like us, then you probably like a wide range of music, and you probably like it even more when you get to see it performed live. Well, whether you prefer salsa or reggae or gospel or jazz, Burnside fills with the sounds of local musicians on a regular basis throughout the summer. The Park District’s warm-weather 'Concerts in the Parks' series offers a fun night out in Lorraine Dixon Park (8701 S. Dauphin Ave., 312-747-6763), and you can’t beat the price, which is zilch. All you need to do is bring your chairs and blankets and a picnic to spread out on the ground, or kick off your shoes and dance the night away. Another fun (and free!) outdoor activity available in the summer is the Park District’s "Movies in the Parks" program situated on the grounds of Burnside’s largest neighborhood park. Head to Tuley Park (501 E. 90th Place, 312-747-6763) around dusk to take in one of the half-dozen films shown from June through September on a large screen at one end of the park site. Again, you’ll want to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to sit on (unless you don’t mind the grass), and don’t forget the popcorn!
Burnside is very close to I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway), so if you have a car it’s quick and easy to get just about anywhere in the city. From the expressway, you can reach the neighborhood by taking the 87th Street exit and traveling east to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It’s easy to park on both Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Cottage Grove Avenue, which are two of the busiest roads in the neighborhood. Most of the side streets also have available parking and typically it’s not too difficult to find a spot. But be careful to watch for any nearby posted signs for restrictions—those parking tickets are doozies!
When you don’t have a vehicle of your own, or just choose not to drive, Chicago’s stellar public transit system takes up the slack. One of our favorite CTA bus lines to use around these parts is the #29 running north along State Street parallel to the Dan Ryan and the Red Line train. Since the bus stop is a neighborhood over to the west, we hop on the #95E on 95th Street and take it over to State Street. The #29 heads right up to downtown. Say it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and you feel like taking in an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. All you have to do is get the #95E eastbound to Jeffrey Boulevard, then transfer to the #15 and ride it north to 57th Street where the Museum Campus is located.
Not too keen on the bus? Not to worry, you can also take the CTA Red Line train which has a stop within blocks of Burnside neighborhood at 95th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway (95th Street is the last stop on the Red Line). The Metra commuter rail will also get you to the Loop or to the south suburbs. It has three stops in Burnside which makes it a valuable commuting option for many residents. Just head to the station that’s closest to your front door (at 87th Street and Dauphin Avenue, 91st Street and Dauphin Avenue, or 95th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue/Chicago State University) and enjoy the relaxing ride into work.
School’s in Session
Families in Burnside find the neighborhood has a limited, but decent choice of schools available nearby. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Burnside Scholastic Academy – 650 E 91st Pl. – (773) 535-3300
Harold Washington Elementary School – 9130 S University Ave. – (773) 535-6225
Sometimes learning where to find those routine services and daily essentials is the hardest part of moving to a new neighborhood. Well, we’re here to make things as easy as possible, that’s why we compiled a list of some of the places you can get your bare necessities in Burnside, from time-honored texts to T-bones, prescription fills to prompt workouts.
Public Library Branch (Tuley Park) – 501 E 90th Pl. (312) – 747-7608
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Post Office (Grand Crossing) – 7748 S Cottage Grove Ave (773) 483-1207
Walgreens – 8628 S. Cottage Grove Ave. – (773) 651-8500
Prescription Mart – 836 E. 87th St. – (773) 846 3784
Hospital Emergency Room
Advocate Trinity Hospital – 2320 E. 93rd St. – (773) 967-2000
Ams Meat Market – 9357 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 874-9086
Cottage Grove’s Groceries – 9238 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 224-7100
H&M Foods – 9019 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 874-8598
MLT Food – 9357 S. Cottage Grove Ave. – (773) 874 9086
Curves – 1718 E. 87th St. – (773) 731-8204
Concerts in the Parks – Lorraine Dixon Park – 8701 S. Dauphin Ave. – (312) 747-6763
Movies in the Parks – Tuley Park: 501 E. 90th Place – (312) 747-6763
Allison’s La Parisienne – 8834 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 994-8975
Fred & Paul’s Variety Store – 936 E 93rd St – (773) 374-0736
2 Plus – 9218 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 487-1111
Joe’s Snack Shop – 8952 S Cottage Grove Ave – (773) 723-4860
Rib Joint Inc – 432 E. 87th St. – (773) 651 4108
Chatham Pancake House – 700 E 87th St. – (773) 874 0010
Subway Submarine – 726 E. 87th St. – (773) 994 8338
KFC – 737 E. 87th St. – (773) 488 7927
Orbit Steak Fish & Chicken – 9100 S. Cottage Grove Ave. – (773) 846 9000
BJ’s Market – 8734 S. Stoney Island Ave. – (773) 374-4700
New China Express – 718 E. 87th St. – (773) 488 3838
Shelter Lounge – 607 E 87th – (773) 487-6088
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Burnside offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Burnside homes include 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 Burnside catches your eye, you can read all about the surrounding area and what it has to offer, all without setting foot in the neighborhood. Like a Yellow Pages, Metromix and MLS database all rolled into one, this site is your ultimate Chicago neighborhoods visitors’ guidebook.