This traditional southwest side neighborhood of solid bungalows and neatly-kept lawns is bound on three sides by busy commercial strips, providing big city amenities to this quiet Chicago community. Chicago Lawn is diverse in culture and cuisine. Restaurants offer every taste from Caribbean jerk chicken to chorizo tortas. Great ethnic food satisfies the stomach, but stable enrichment institutions such as theaters, a library and elementary schools provide a steady foundation for community in Chicago Lawn. Family-owned shops co-exist with national retail chains, supplying Chicago Lawn neighbors with all the essentials and more.
Chicago Lawn Facts
Location: 10 miles southwest of the Loop
Boundaries: 59th Street on the north, 63rd Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east and Central Park Avenue on the west
Then and Now
In the early 1870s, Cook County's first Superintendent of Schools John F. Eberhart purchased several acres of land south of 59th Street and west of Kedzie Avenue with the intention of starting a new community. Through his own investment and political string-pulling, he convinced the city of Chicago to help his project along by building a railroad across his property. Pursuing his 'if you build it they will come' mentality, Eberhart constructed a train depot next to the newly-laid tracks at 63rd Street and Central Park. That little depot, erected in 1876, was the first building in the new town of Chicago Lawn, or 'the Lawn' as it was popularly known among its residents. To this day, those railroad tracks define the western boundary of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.
Eberhart's little town was annexed by Chicago in 1889 but remained a sparsely populated farming community until well into the 20th century. Nevertheless, in anticipation of the area's growth, a major project was started in 1903 to transform a 300-acre prairie south of Chicago Lawn-known as Marquette Manor-into a huge public park. Over the next fifteen years, a fieldhouse, lagoon and golf course were built, and nearly 90,000 trees and shrubs were planted, all to create a marvelous recreational resource that is still one of the area's biggest attractions: Marquette Park 'the playground of the southwest side.'
After World War I, German and Irish immigrants flocked to Chicago Lawn from the ever-growing neighborhoods to the north and east, followed by an even greater number of Polish and Lithuanian families. By 1930, Chicago Lawn-and the former Marquette Manor, which was now considered part of the same community-had more than tripled in population. The streets branching out from 69th and Western came to be known as 'Little Lithuania' since it was home to more citizens of that nationality than in any other city outside of Vilnius, Lithuania's capital.
Over time, Little Lithuania and the larger southern portion of Chicago Lawn came to be identified more closely with the huge park that dominated the area, and today Marquette Park is regarded by most Chicagoans as a neighborhood distinct from Chicago Lawn. That's fortunate for Chicago Lawn in a way, since intense unrest during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s tarnished the Marquette Park name in the public eye for decades to come.
These days the area is so peaceful, quiet and culturally diverse that it's hard to believe it was the center of such strife forty years ago. Many of the old families have since moved on to neighborhoods and suburbs farther to the south and west, but you'll still find a few Irish, Polish and Lithuanian-Americans around here, along with a mix of Latin, Arab, African American and Caucasian neighbors, helping to make Chicago Lawn seem almost as cosmopolitan as one of the city's north side communities.
Chicago Lawn Real Estate
Chicago Lawn is a small residential area bounded by elevated railroad tracks to the west and busy commercial streets on its other three sides. The residential heart of the neighborhood, with its narrow lanes edged by trees, is quiet and well maintained. As of 2000, approximately 43 percent of the wood frame and brick homes in this area were single-family dwellings. Most common are traditional Chicago bungalows with shaded front porches and upstairs dormer windows peeking out of the low rooflines.
Chicago Lawn has enjoyed a long-standing reputation for affordable housing. Today, a variety of two- and three-bedroom homes are available with a small number of new construction houses thrown in the mix. What limited multi-unit housing there is in Chicago Lawn is row-rise brick courtyard condos and older apartments buildings. The average sales price for a detached single-family home in Chicago Lawn with three bedrooms is around $200,000. Larger houses on the market provide a lot more space without an enormous difference in price.
What's on the Menu?
Thanks to the mix of ethnic groups who reside in Chicago Lawn, the neighborhood boasts a range of very affordable restaurants with an assortment of international cuisines to choose from.
Chief among these is food from south of the border. Chicago Lawn is a terrific place to find the authentic and the unusual among Mexican dishes. We're fond of Taqueria Los Comales (3048 W 63rd St, 773-776-4764), which may call itself a humble taqueria, but it's a whole lot more. On a street dominated by brick and terracotta storefronts, its distinctive yellow and red facade catches the eye, drawing you into a spacious, smoke-free setting that's just as bright and inviting as the exterior promises. Grab a quiet table in the back by the gleaming soccer club trophies and the soda fountain, and feast upon a hearty guisado de puerco (pork stew) gordita, or perhaps a superb chorizo torta. For a change of pace, close your eyes and take a stab at the extensive taco menu, featuring the usual steak and chicken along with more exotic fillings like beef tongue, tripe and brain. The milkshakes are pretty good here, too. (We prefer chocolate to cow brain when it comes to the shakes.) Or, if you want to save dessert for later, pick up something fresh and delicious right next door at Del Real Bakery (3044 63rd St, 773-737-2844).
One reason Chicago Lawn's Mexican restaurants stand out is because each seems to have a specialty to make it unique. Los Delfines Restaurant (2750 W 63rd St, 773-737-4900) may not look like much on the outside, but this place is all about spicy, salsa-topped seafood. The prices are fairly moderate and the kitchen is open late if you're hungry after a night on the town. Meanwhile, La Sirena (3109 W 59th St, 773-776-3260) has a way with quesadillas, and their creative use of traditional ingredients will save you a trip across the Rio Grande. Crack open a cold Modelo (Mexican beer) and enjoy a quesadilla of hongas (wild mushroom), huitlacoche (Mexican black corn) or, best of all, the delicate pumpkin squash blossoms in their fabulous quesadilla de flor de calabaza. On the other side of the neighborhood there's El Gallo De Oro (2952 W 63rd St, 773-737-8101), which gets our business for two reasons: they whip up possibly the best burritos in town, and-since they're open 24 hours-we can enjoy them whenever we want.
Of course, it isn't all about Mexican food in Chicago Lawn. Turkish cuisine is the name of the game at Ali Baba Restaurant (3508 W 63rd St, 773-778-7017), worth a stop just for their authentic sigara boregi appetizer, a phyllo dough pastry stuffed with parsley and feta cheese. Middle East Restaurant (3332 W 63rd St, 773-778-0900) is an intimate diner with one of those hefty menus that makes your eyes glaze over. When in doubt, you can't go wrong with the steak shish-kebob here. Desserts are excellent, too, but if you want to stretch your legs a little first, then hike a couple blocks west to the House of Baklava (3532 W 63rd St, 773-776-7114) which, you gotta admit, sounds tastier than a bungalow.
Need a Chinese food fix? Our personal fave is the Arden Chinese Restaurant (6207 S Kedzie Ave, 773-436-6200) where they serve it up in the Mandarin style. It's worth a trip to Arden just to see the wildly colorful mural that covers the entire length of the building. Ah, the traditional arts of the Orient-except...wait a minute, that looks like Batman. And is that the Joker? You gotta see this to believe it-not your typical Asian eatery decor!
For a little taste of the islands, we like to stop in at Caribbean Jerk & Soul Food (6242 S Western Ave, 773-436-8897) for some spicy red snapper or a generous kingfish sandwich. You can't go wrong with the jerk chicken or curry goat, and be sure to start off with their specialty appetizer, oxtail and dumplings. Afterwards, something special for dessert awaits right around the corner. The company slogan on the big picture window at Luna's Bakery (3135 W 59th St, 773-476-5977) challenges you to 'imagine your cake,' but there's really no need. Luna's leaves nothing to the imagination with their enticing display of gorgeous multi-tiered wedding cakes and assorted goodies.
Best Shopping Stops
A variety of shops line the north, south and east boundaries of Chicago Lawn neighborhood, with the biggest concentration and widest selection on 63rd Street between Western and Central Park avenues.
An interesting specialty store is Nate's Leather Company (2948 W 63rd St, 773-925-1973), a premiere source for factory-direct police supplies. Nate's has been designing, building, selling, cleaning, refinishing and repairing leather goods for 50 years, plus they've been the primary provider of custom-made leather jackets to the Cook County Sheriff and Chicago Police departments since 1968. Most of their clientele are cops, of course, but this very cool shop offers those distinctive police jackets to the public as well, along with other specialty items like customized motorcycle vests, reversible flight jackets, holsters, even body armor. And who knows, maybe you'll run into a celebrity while you're there. In addition to Chicago's finest, owner Josh Chernoff has sold police jackets to ex-Bull Dennis Rodman, goth rocker Andrew Eldritch and actress Sandra Bullock-to name a few.
If the urban tough guy look ain't for you, pardner, jes' mosey on down to Tony's Western Wear (3348 W 63rd St, 773-778-1378) and take a gander at his huge round-up of cowboy hats, boots, jeans, belts and buckles. For good luck be sure to pet the nose of the life-sized black stallion standing guard on the sidewalk. No sugar cubes required.
Benny's Sportswear (3052 W 63rd St, 773-776-8719) is a fun spot for casual clothes with a wide assortment of caps, tops, jeans, jackets and dress pants, plus same-day alterations. And if new footwear is on your shopping list, you won't have to wear out much shoe leather to find a good selection on 63rd Street. For something a little offbeat, check out Mariana Fashion Footwear (3116 W 63rd St, 773-925-2996), the place for platform shoes-even platform sneakers! For a wider choice of casual and dress shoes for men, women and children, slip into one of the local shops like Koko Shoes (2424 W 63rd St, 773-476-2628) or JB Footware (3230 W 63rd St, 773-436-4512), unless you prefer to rely on a major chain like Athlete's Foot (2412 W 63rd St, 773-737-3772) or Payless Shoe Source (3200 W 63rd St, 773-476-0662) which both happen to be Chicago Lawn fashion fixtures.
Sixty-third Street is also home to a wealth of furniture stores. So when you're setting up your new place, you can run down the street for those last few finishing touches. Azteca Furniture (2944 W 63rd St, 773-471-0078), the Circle Furniture Company (2540 W 63rd St, 773-471-9800) and Genesis Furniture (3034 W 63rd St, 773-434-0604) are just a few of your choices. And remember, street parking on the south side of town is always pretty easy, even on a busy thoroughfare like 63rd.
Night on the Town
As befits a quiet residential neighborhood, the nightlife in Chicago Lawn is relatively subdued. While there are a few dance clubs just to the south in Marquette Park, Chicago Lawn's public houses are smaller and more laid back, catering to a mix of devoted local patrons.
Frankie & Johnnie's (3108 W 59th St, 773-947-2438) is a sweetheart of a tavern that draws a friendly crowd out for a drink, some conversation, and maybe a few games of pool. If you want to catch the latest ballgame while you hoist a few, you'll fit right in with the crew at Danny's Place (3336 W 63rd St, 773-434-6651). The same goes for Loughrea Inn (3316 W 63rd St, 773-927-2118), though it has a few more entertainment options than Danny's . Here you can expect to find the jukebox cranking out pop tunes while patrons watch the game on TV, shoot pool or even play chess, a peculiarly popular diversion at this Chicago Lawn watering hole. Then again, if a spirited game of chess is not your idea of Friday night fun, we recommend El Zarape #2 (2612 W 63rd St, 773-778-6108), where a larger, louder and younger crowd gathers on the weekends to drink, carouse and groove to the pop, R&B and Latin-loaded jukebox.
The streets of Chicago are laid out on a grid and, on the south side, the east/west streets are numbered, so finding your way around town is pretty simple. Street parking is much easier on the southwest side than in the densely-packed neighborhoods up north, which is a good thing, since you'll rely more on car travel out here. Taxis are less plentiful, and the city's popular elevated train system (the 'El') comes close but does not extend all the way to Chicago Lawn.
Still, CTA public transportation is an effective travel alternative in Chicago Lawn, partly due to the proximity of Midway Airport. It's only a 20-minute ride between the Loop and Midway on the El's Orange Line, and once you're at Midway you'll find several city bus lines that make the quick, three-mile trip to Chicago Lawn. There's also the 63rd Street bus which will connect you to the El's Green Line at Ashland Avenue, another option for traveling to and from downtown.
Within the Chicago Lawn boundaries, the CTA buses are strategically spread out giving residents their choice of routes for easy and convenient intra-neighborhood transit. North/south travel is handled by the Western Avenue #49A, the Kedzie/California #52, the Kedzie Avenue #52A, and the California Avenue #94 buses, while east/west corridors are covered by the 63rd Street and 59th/61st Street routes.
School's in Session
Chicago Lawn families don't have to look far for public schools to send their young scholars. In addition to the following list of educational facilities in or near the neighborhood, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at www.cps.k12.il.us and www.greatschools.net.
Fairfield Elementary Academy - 6201 S Fairfield Ave - (773) 535-9500
Gage Park High School - 5630 S Rockwell St - (773) 535-9230
Morrill Elementary Math & Science School - 6011 S Rockwell St - (773) 535-9288
To help you out, we've compiled a list of where you can find the bare necessities and handy resources in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, from bread and butter to books and Band-Aids.
Chicago Transit Authority (888) 968-7282
Chicago Lawn Public Library 6120 S Kedzie Ave (312) 747-0639
6037 S Kedzie Ave (773) 925-3490
Walgreens - 6200 S Western Ave - (773) 434-2634
Walgreens - 6315 S Kedzie Ave - (773) 776-4481
Holy Cross Hospital - 2701 W 68th St - (773) 884-9000
Mercy Medical - 5525 S Pulaski Rd - (773) 585-1955
Al-Anwar Food - 3101 W 63rd St - (773) 737-3555
California Foodmart - 2815 W 63rd St - (773) 737-8157
Jewel-Osco - 6057 S Western Ave - (773) 925-7658
K & A Foods - 2432 W 63rd St - (773) 436-3311
La Estrella - 3003 W 63rd St - (773) 434-1771
Marie Castillo Grocery - 2424 W 63rd St - (773) 436-3035
Town Supermarket - 3106 W 63rd St - (773) 434-6997
The following are just a taste of the dining, shopping and entertainment Chicago Lawn has to offer. Discover the rest as you explore the neighborhood for yourself.
Ford City Cinemas - 4440 W 77th St - 773-582-1838
ICE Western Theaters Spanish - 2258 W 62nd St - 773-476-4959
Athlete's Foot - 2412 W 63rd St - (773) 737-3772
Azteca Furniture - 2944 W 63rd St - (773) 471-0078
Benny's Sportswear - 3052 W 63rd St - (773) 776-8719
Circle Furniture Company - 2540 W 63rd St - (773) 471-9800
Do Fashion - 6238 S Western Ave - (773) 471-0889
Genesis Furniture - 3034 W 63rd St - (773) 434-0604
JB Footware - 3230 W 63rd St - (773) 436-4512
Koko Shoes - 2424 W 63rd St - (773) 476-2628
Manolo's Discoteca - 3019 W 59th St - (773) 778-4173
Mariana Fashion Footwear - 3116 W 63rd St - (773) 925-2996
Mary's Fashion - 3038 W 63rd St - (773) 925-5679
Nate's Leather Company - 2950 W 63rd St - (773) 925-1973
Payless Shoe Source - 3200 W 63rd St - (773) 476-0662
Quality Discount Shopping - 3222 W 63rd St - (773) 918-0736
Rainbow Shoes - 2414 W 63rd St - (773) 471-9707
Sears - 6153 S Western Ave - (773) 918-1400
Shoe Street - 6234 S Western Ave - (773) 476-5400
Spot - 6244 S Western Ave - (773) 434-6600
Tina's Sample Shop - 3302 W 63rd St - (773) 436-1042
Tony's Western Wear - 3348 W 63rd St - (773) 778-1378
Danny's Place - 3336 W 63rd St - (773) 434-6651
El Zarape - #2 2612 W 63rd St. - (773) 778-6108
Frankie & Johnnie's - 3108 W 59th St - (773) 947-2438
Loughrea Inn - 3316 W 63rd St - (773) 927-2118
Boston Fish House - 3211 W 59th St - (773) 925-6404
Shark's Fish - 6114 S Western Ave - (773) 434-0400
Arden Restaurant - 6207 S Kedzie Ave - (773) 436-6200
Jun Hoe Toy - 2550 W 63rd St - (773) 434-6686
See Thru Chinese Kitchen - 6046 S Western Ave - (773) 776-8882
Caribbean Jerk & Soul Food - 6242 S Western Ave - (773) 436-8897
El Gallo de Oro - 2952 W 63rd St - (773) 737-8101
La Sirena - 3109 W 59th St - (773) 776-3260
Los Del Fines Restaurant - 2750 W 63rd St - (773) 737-4900
Taqueria Los Comales - 3048 W 63rd St - (773) 776-4764
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Ali Baba Restaurant - 3508 W 63rd St - (773) 778-7017
House of Baklava - 3532 W 63rd St - (773) 776-7114
Middle East Restaurant - 3332 W 63rd St - (773) 778-0900
Del Real Bakery - 3044 63rd St - (773) 737-2844.
Luna's Bakery - 3135 W 59th St - (773) 476-5977
Milan's Pizza - 3508 W 63rd St - (773) 434-0800
Pizza by Geneo - 2945 W 59th St - (773) 767-5545
Rene's Pizza - 3530 W 63rd St - (773) 434-5555
What's Poppin - 2534 W 63rd St - (773) 925-0466
Our neighborhoods guide is meant to give potential homebuyers a general overview of what every Chicago neighborhood has to offer and what makes it unique from the rest, and believe us, no two neighborhoods are the same! Searching for a new home isn't just about finding that prefect condo or house, making sure the setting fits your style and needs is just as important. And whether Chicago Lawn neighborhood is your ideal locale to settle down, or you've found the scene here just isn't your cup of tea, we're here to help you find the right place to make sure your home purchase a is total success. From the type of restaurants to the outdoor venues to the local schools, every detail is an essential factor in what makes a property of dream home. By utilizing our comprehensive accounts of each community, such as this one for Chicago Lawn, we hope to provide a detailed picture of not only the residential real estate available in the area, but also the additional features of the neighborhood. A quick glance and you'll know exactly what shopping, dining, entertainment and resources are in Chicago Lawn, all without ever having to go anywhere.