Tucked away on Chicago's southwest side, Clearing offers quiet tree-lined streets and single-family homes with picket fences and green yards. Providing ample indoor (and outdoor) living space in an urban setting, the Clearing neighborhood offers an ideal locale to start and raise a family. Several community parks create a recreation haven for area residents to enjoy fresh air and get in some exercise. Sports leagues are always a fun way to meet people and practice your favorite sport, or if you prefer to go it alone, you can workout at the neighborhood fitness facilities in the Hale Park field house. Clearing's stretch of delicious dining options on 63rd Street covers all the bases with everything from charming pastry shops to Polish buffets to the must-have neighborhood pizza delivery joint. And that's not all!
Location: 13 miles southwest of the Loop
Boundaries: 59th Street to the north, Central Avenue to the east, freight rail yard (65th Street) to the south and Harlem Avenue to the west
Crime Statistics: Go to the Chicago Police Department’s CLEARMAP to search specific streets and areas for crime incidents
Then and Now
The neighborhood of Clearing, on Chicago’s far southwest side, was founded in 1907 and officially annexed to Chicago in 1915 as the rising population necessitated the structured services of the city. The community was the designated area where farm goods were 'cleared' (delivered) through the airport and railroad yards and it was labeled accordingly, that’s how we get the name 'Clearing.'
Dutch and German immigrants settled Clearing in the mid-19th Century. However, the area’s most affluent landholder and resident was John Wentworth, a U.S. Senator and former mayor of Chicago. Wentworth had a home on the corner of what is now Harlem Avenue and 55th Street, in addition to 4,700 acres of sprawling farmland and undeveloped terrain that included areas known today as Clearing, Summit, and Garfield Ridge.
In 1915, eighteen industries were operating in the Clearing Industrial District, but that number would more than quadruple by 1928. Constructed between 1926 and 1927, Chicago’s Midway Airport, named in honor the battle at the Pacific island of Midway in World War II, was an added addition to the growth of the Clearing area and its surrounding communities. At first, the airfield maintained four landing strips, but it was later expanded with 12 more runways by 1941.
Clearing’s postwar economic and residential boom spanned three decades as its population grew from about 6,000 in 1940 to nearly 25,000 in 1970. Starting in the mid-1970s, the area suffered an economic setback that stunted the community’s growth and endured until 1984. More than half of the companies in the Clearing neighborhood relocated to other sites and thousands of jobs were lost. In 1985, with the modernization and expansion of Midway Airport, the Clearing neighborhood has slowly regained some of its former economic stability and remains a pleasant place to purchase a home and raise a family.
Three parks within the Clearing neighborhood boundaries create a recreational haven for local residents to bring their children, stretch the legs and get a bit of fresh air.
Hale Park (6258 W. 62nd St, 773-229-1032) is no exception for those of us who love a refreshing dip in an outdoor swimming pool to keep cool during Chicago’s sizzling summer months. The park offers swimming lessons for the kids as well as scheduled lap swims for the grown ups. But if you don’t exactly have your 'water wings,' or just don’t want to get your hair wet, the park grounds also have tennis courts and baseball diamonds for a little non-aquatic exercise and activity. If you’re looking for a group of amateur athletes to play with, the park has a men’s basketball league available throughout the year, and while you’re at it, check out the workout facilities in the onsite fieldhouse to get in an extra cardio session.
The youth-friendly Hale Park hosts bean bag tournaments for teens between 13-16 years, soccer teams for seven to 10-year-olds, as well as day camp for kids between six and twelve years of age. For those of you that have an artist in the family, consider signing your child up for painting classes. Who knows, there may be another Picasso in the making. We all enjoy a family stroll down the two walking trails that wind through the park. And last but not least, bring all of your friends out for 'Movies in the Park' on designated nights when the Chicago Park District sponsors family-appropriate viewing pleasure. Admission is free, but there are no concessions—or seats for that matter—so bring your own snacks and a lawn chair to sit on.
Clearing’s most patriot park was established in 1976, exactly two hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The six-acre Minuteman Park (5940 S Central Ave, 773-284-0214) was named after the American colonial militiamen who vowed to defend the country at a minute’s notice to strengthen the cause during our country’s fight for independence. But enough with the history lesson! When the fast and exciting pace of city living seems a bit overwhelming, we can all take advantage of the serene outdoor park setting and perhaps go for a relaxing game of baseball or tennis. The park hosts an array of 'Fun and Games' programs for kids from six to eleven years old, which includes harvesting vegetable gardens and play camp for the under seven crowd.
Another popular Clearing neighborhood recreation spot is Wentworth Park (5625 S Mobile Ave, 312-747-6815). This good-size park offers several interesting classes and activities such as aquatic exercise for adults, parent and child together swimming lessons, and even the high-energy game of water polo for all ages. This park really accommodates almost every one of our recreational needs with volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts; a horseshoe throwing area (don’t see those much these days) and even a children’s playground. We really can’t see the point in getting a membership to one of those expensive city gyms when this public park has its own fitness center. Your kids will have a good time meeting other little tykes at day camp or play camp, and Wentworth also offers a camp for deaf and hard of hearing children as well. And we must not forget to mention to take advantage of the half-mile walking trail through Wentworth’s tree-lined footpath. So lace up those sneakers, charge up the iPod and hit the trails!
Clearing Real Estate
The Clearing neighborhood got its start as a railroad 'clearing' yard, a destination for train car maintenance. Today, Clearing is mostly residential, and the local residents take great pride in keeping the area clean and safe. So much so that in addition to the services of Streets and Sanitation and the local Police Department, community members created their own patrol force called the Clearing Night Force to maintain peace and order along their quiet neighborhood blocks.
The neatly kept mini-lawns of the many brick bungalows and one-story homes of Clearing create a charming cottage ambiance throughout the community. Rows of cement driveways lead to small separate garages and secure parking spots. Some homeowners have fenced-in yards (to keep our four-legged family members from running about) and lovely little trees and shrubs to finish off the curb appeal of the uniformly designed streets.
There are a number of new construction developments cropping up in a few pockets of Clearing, many of which are multi-unit brick condos that compliment the preexisting 1960s contemporary style architecture. Just imagine yourself kicking back on your private balcony with a good book and cold drink on any given spring or summer day. Sounds nice, huh? Well you know where to start looking.
The average sales price for a one- or two-bedroom condominium or attached housing unit in Clearing is around $157,000. But shop around because units of this size range in price with some selling for as much as $340,000 and others listed at under $100,000. A three-bedroom unit in this southwest side Chicago neighborhood costs closer to $200,000 on average. The average price for a detached single-family home with three bedrooms around here is $260,000. Property with a little more space will likely run you closer to $275,000, although there are plenty of houses in Clearing that sell for between $300,000 and $400,000.
Best Shopping Stops
The retail scene in Clearing is not the most abundant, but there are a couple neighborhood staples that have served the local community for years.
Thinking about proposing to that special someone? Or want to get a really nice gift for your spouse? Clearing residents know just where to go: Midway Jewelry (5635 W 63rd St, 773-767-1633). This family-run business has been around for 40 years, selling low- to mid-priced watches and fine jewelry. Any company that can manage to stick around for four decades has got to provide consistently excellent service and quality products, so you know you’re taken care of once you step through their door. And if you’re looking for that extra-special present, Midway Jewelry takes custom orders upon request. While some people like diamonds and jewels, others like vinyl and disks; for them there’s Record Dugout Used Records (6055 W 63rd St, 773-586-1206). This neighborhood record shop is full of music memorabilia and friendly salespeople who will help you find just what you’re looking for, be it an old song you loved as a kid or a new tune you heard on the radio yesterday. Peruse the cramped little aisles that are jam-packed with pop, rock, and jazz in every form from record to cassette tape to CD. While music is Record Dugout’s main merchandise, they also buy, sell, and trade sports cards. So if you are in search of a specific baseball card, you might want to stop by and check out the collection here.
What’s on the Menu?
The Clearing neighborhood’s main drag, 63rd Street, offers residents an array of choices for dining out or ordering in.
Cafe Renee (6411 W 63rd St, 773-586-0548) is a mid-size restaurant with a casual and comfortable diner quality to it. The food is very affordable and the service is quick to boot. We discovered that any food craving can be satisfied here—from beef stew to chop suey—and all the dishes have an authentically homemade taste. The cafe opens everyday at 5:30 am for all you early birds, but don’t expect to be able to watch the sunrise as you enjoy your first cup of coffee—there aren’t any windows. Fortunately, the lack of natural light is made for in great-tasting meals. Paristi’s Drive-In (6216 W 63rd St, 773-586-5611) is a Clearing neighborhood summer hotspot for a quick burger, fries and Italian lemonade. This tiny sandwich shop has the appearance of an old fashioned roadside food stand with a couple small windows to place and pick up orders. There is no delivery, but you can take away all the Italian beef, Polish hot dog and soft serve ice cream that you like. Paristi’s is open every day of the week from 9am – 10pm, and don’t worry, no reservations are necessary.
The first of two Cantonese style Chinese establishments in Clearing is Wayne Moy Chop Suey (6101 W 63rd St, 773-586-0450). Their sweet and sour pork and egg drop soup are best sellers. It’s all carryout or delivery, which is available from 11am – 9pm on weekdays and open until 10pm on weekends. The other place for Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine in Clearing is Wing Wah Chinese Restaurant (6452 W 63rd St, 773-788-1933); but you won’t be able to sit down to eat here either, as Wing Wah is carryout or catering only. The popular choices among patrons are fried wontons, crab rangoon, and the lunch specials, which include chop suey with beef, chicken, or shrimp, and comes with fried rice and egg roll for only $4.95. Get the house specialty, a lobster, water chestnut and bamboo shoot entree, or try out Wing Wah’s trademark 'Six Happy,' a combination plate of barbeque pork, chicken and shrimp with peapods, broccoli and onion. And if you’re throwing a get-together, you can order party trays of fried rice, egg rolls and orange chicken to serve your guests.
Switching gastronomic gears from steaming-hot pot sticker dumplings to flakey butter croissants filled with chocolate, Le Petite Pastry II (5610 W 63rd St, 773-735-732) is the little pastry shop that could—satisfy any sweet tooth indulgence with its many elaborate cake and pastry creations made for any occasion. The charming exterior of this specialty bakery entices passersby into a realm of sweet treats with its large picture window that showcases ornately decorated cakes, cookies, and pies. We are addicted to their homage to Fat Tuesday, the traditional Polish paczki that is somewhat like a donut, dusted with sugar and filled with fruit. For a new ritual to accompany that morning cup of coffee, stop in to Le Petite on your way to work for a freshly made Danish or croissant.
El Gallo Tapatio (6531 W 63rd St, 773-586-7665) is Clearing’s Mexican mainstay dine-in or carry-out eatery. This little 10-seater hideaway offers neighborhood locals authentic Mexican fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our favorite is the not-so-common beefsteak and cheese enchilada served with rice, beans, salad, and plenty of hot salsa—if you ask for it. The chef also makes a phenomenal pozole (corn and pork soup) that’s perfect on those chilly Chicago autumn days. If you choose to eat in, enjoy the lively mariachi music from the jukebox as you dine. You shouldn’t skimp out on dessert as the place makes a mean banana shake and sweet rice water drink—not your typically meal ending dish, but just as tasty as brownie a la mode or a slice of key lime pie.
Perhaps it’s a prerequisite for becoming a Chicago neighborhood, but whatever the reason, we’re glad Clearing has a few pizzerias to satisfy our cravings. Botello’s Pizza (6425 W 63rd St, 773-229-0334) is owned and operated by a father and daughter duo that have been running this Italian kitchen for the past six years. Like many of their patrons, we love to start our meals with the amazing bruschetta appetizer that’s made with the freshest tomatoes and basil atop crusty ciabatta bread. Botello’s also serves up delicious homemade marinara sauce, pizza dough, and pastas. One of our recommendations for an entree, besides the traditional pizza, is the chicken vesuvio—a braised chicken and potatoes dish that’s well seasoned with fresh oregano, black pepper, and parsley. The minestrone soup, Italian beef sandwiches and Mexican pizza topped with chorizo, jalapeno peppers and beans are also noteworthy dishes that make the menu’s A list. Botello’s only has a small dining area with a few tables, so many hungry regulars choose to do carryout or delivery instead.
D’Anardo’s Pizza (6535 W 63rd St, 773-586-7373) is a good quick bite with a gigantic menu of pizza, pastas, cheese sticks, burgers, steaks, and ribs. This neighborhood joint is carryout only and the hours are a bit untraditional, so call in advance. While pizza is certainly on their bill of fare, Vince’s Pizza Restaurant and Lounge (6217 W 63rd St, 773-586-8550) takes the blue ribbon for best Friday Fish Fry dinners in town. The portions are huge and the assortment of pizza and traditional American dishes are sure to meet the needs of every member of the family. The restaurant has been around since 1956, however the decor is unquestionably 1970s—guess they did some redecorating at some point. The dining room is filled with comfortable large booths as well as plenty of tables and chairs against a rustic brick wall backdrop. The lounge has a bar where you can have a drink while you wait for a table to open up, as the weekend supper rush is steady.
New Warsaw Buffet (6250 W 63rd St, 773-586-0410) has the best prices and delicious traditional Polish dishes that are second only to Warsaw, Poland. Their buffet is a spread like no other, including Polish style ribs, beef pot roast, kielbasa sausage, pierogi, Polish hamburger (no bun served with potatoes and vegetables), sauerkraut, and homemade pickle soup. Lunch is $6.75 per person and the all you can eat dinner is only $9. We admit that the drive across town to this southwest side buffet is well worth it, especially for the weekend brunch for $5.95. But you might want to make a reservation for the weekend, as it tends to be packed from breakfast through dinner.
Night on the Town
The cozy neighborhood nightspots in Clearing where everybody knows your name is heavy on the friendly and welcoming ambiance, which makes up for the lackluster decor that is abundant in Chicago’s more modern pubs and lounges.
Last Call Lounge (6316 W 65th St, 773.229.0392) is a Polish owned family bar that serves domestic beer and appetizers during the afternoons and full on T-bone steak dinners with mashed potatoes and a glass of wine for dinner. Most of the clientele are local long-term residents or employees from the many nearby factories. The service is friendly and the pierogies and deli-style sandwiches are creature comforts for all lifestyles. You can play a game of pool while sipping on a beer or waiting for your meal to come out of the kitchen. Monday through Friday and on Sunday the place is open until 2 am, and on Saturday nights they don’t close down until 3 am, so you can probably guess where the best place to catch last call in Clearing. Touch of Class Lounge (6058 W 63rd St, 773-586-8177) is another neighborhood after- hours pub with cheap drink prices and an interesting crowd of old-timers and blue-collar professionals. Wertelka’s Tavern (5700 W 63rd St, 773-284-9758) was established in 1933 as the main public house for the workingman to take a load off after many hours of hard labor in the factories. Today, it welcomes all members of the Clearing community to partake in spirits and friendly conversation. They serve mostly domestic beer and traditional whiskey, vodka, and gin.
J&J Lounge (6539 W 63rd St, 773-586-4114) stands for Joe and Josie. This dynamic duo operates a neighborhood banquet hall favorite that can host up to 120 people. The lounge area offers a large U-shaped bar serving gin and tonic and other classic cocktails as well as bottled domestic beers. We always manage to get in at least one game of pool before sitting down for a meal in the dining area adjoining the bar. The menu is eclectically American, Polish, Italian, and Mexican. But their Polish pride is evident in the love and care they take in making their delicious meat, cheese, potato, or sauerkraut pierogies.
With Midway Airport right next door, long distance travel from this southwest side Chicago neighborhood is a snap. However, more often than not, you’ll probably be doing some intra-city traveling, as opposed to the kind you need a plane for. In that case, Clearing has reliable public transportation via bus that provides access to destinations within the neighborhood and to other parts of Chicago.
If you need to get into the heart of Chicago’s downtown (aka the Loop) catch Pace Bus #386 from the corner of 63rd Street and McVicker and head to the Midway CTA Bus Terminal, which is also conveniently located across the street from Midway Airport. Transfer to the CTA Orange Line elevated train and take it to the Roosevelt CTA stop. Next, you’ll make another quick transfer to the Green or Brown line trains to arrive downtown. Yeah, we know it sounds confusing, but after a week you’ll be train and bus hopping like a pro.
Having your own wheels makes for a convenient commute to downtown Chicago from the neighborhood. The easiest route is to go east on 63rd Street to Central Avenue and head northbound to I-55 (Stevenson), which links you to I-90/94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) and on to Lake Shore Drive.
School’s in Session
The Clearing neighborhood offers several local choices in elementary school education. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Blair Early Childhood Center – 6751 W 63rd Pl – (773) 535-2076
Dore Elementary School – 6108 S Natoma Ave – (773) 535-2080
Hale Elementary School – 6140 S Melvina Ave – (773) 535-2265
St Rene Goupil Catholic School – 6340 S New England Ave – (773) 586-4414
St Symphorosa School – 6125 S Austin Ave – (773) 585-6888
Clearing is a big city neighborhood with a small town feel and all the essential establishments are found on one main drag—located on or near 63rd Street.
Clearing Public Library – 6423 W 63rd Pl – 312-747-5657
Central Express Drugs – 5600 W 63rd St – (773) 767-5555
Walgreens – 6016 W 63rd Street – (773) 788-0061
Fair Share Fine Foods – 6422 W 63rd St – (708) 386.628
Farmland Produce Store – 6345 W 63rd St – (773) 229-9631
Friendly Foods – 6323 S Central Ave – (773) 581-7255
Chicago Sports – 6801 W 66th St – (708) 496-3536
Clear Ridge Hardware – 6122 W 63rd St – (773) 586-1200
Harper Leather Goods – 6901 W 65th St – (708) 496-0399
Midway Jewelry – 5635 W 63rd St – (773) 767-1633
Record Dugout Used Records – 6055 W 63rd St – (773) 586-1206
Cafe Renee – 6411 W 63rd St – (773) 586-0548
Paristi’s Drive-In – 6216 W 63rd St – (773) 586-5611
Wayne Moy Chop Suey – 6101 W 63rd St – (773) 586-0450
Wing Wah Chinese Restaurant – 6452 W 63rd St – (773) 788-1933
Le Petite Pastry II – 5610 W 63rd St – (773) 735-1732
Koffee Kettle – 5900 W 63rd St – (773) 735-6990
El Tepatio Gallo – 6531 W 63rd St – (773) 586-7665
Botello’s Pizza – 6425 W 63rd St – (773) 229-0334
Cipriani’s Pizza – 5840 W 63rd St – (773) 582-3747
D’Anardo’s Pizza – 6535 W 63rd St – (773) 586-7373
Giorgino’s Pizza – 5723 W 63rd St – (773) 838-3633
Lina’s Pizza – 5723 W 63rd St – (773) 585-6144
Maggiolina’s Pizzeria – 5723A W 63rd St – (773) 585-6144
Vince’s Pizza – 6217 W 63rd St – (773) 586-8550
New Warsaw Ltd – 6250 W 63rd St – (773) 586-0410
J&J Lounge – 6539 W 63rd St – (773) 586-4114
Last Call Lounge – 6316 W 65th St – (773) 229-0392
Touch of Class Lounge – 6058 W 63rd St – (773) 586-8177
Wertelka’s Tavern – 5700 W 63rd St – (773) 284-9758
Sometimes it makes more sense to view the city of Chicago as a bunch of separate neighborhoods, especially when it comes to real estate. Whether you are in the market for a loft, condo, townhome, or house, it is just as important to inspect the surrounding area as it is to inspect the home’s foundation. Clearing is just one Chicago community with an abundance of residential properties, and a life all its own. From where you send your kids to school to where you dine at night, the information we provide is an essential piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy that beautiful loft or adorable house in Clearing.