Dearborn Park provides a link between the hustle and bustle of the central Loop and the quieter, more residential South Loop area. Residents are drawn to the neighborhood's new developments, suburb-like streets, and the accessibility of Chicago treasures like the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Grant Park, Navy Pier, and, of course, beautiful Lake Michigan. Much of Dearborn Park's residences take the form of traditional townhomes or hip, new condo and loft spaces. Because of its great location, prices in Dearborn Park can be up market, but there are plenty of properties in an affordable bracket as well. The community is fairly small which doesn't leave much room for copious restaurants, but there are a few neighborhood haunts where locals can grab a sandwich for lunch or order pizza for dinner. Instead of little storefront shops, Dearborn Parkers head over to the one-stop shopper's favorite: Target.
Dearborn Park Facts
Location: A few blocks south of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: South Loop, Printers Row, The Loop, Prairie District
Boundaries: Polk Street to the north, State Street to the east, 16th Street to the south and Clark Street to the west
Then and Now
Okay, let’s begin at the very, very beginning. Henry Dearborn was Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of War in the early 1800s. Apparently Dearborn made quite an impact during this time period, because in 1803, Fort Dearborn was named after him. Built at the mouth of the Chicago River, the stronghold was designed to protect the trade coming in and out of Chicago. Even though the fort is now gone, Dearborn’s legend lives on. Not only is there a marker placed where the citadel once stood, but a major street and an old train station also bear the Dearborn name in honor of the brave war secretary.
Though Dearborn Park borders downtown, where development is never at a standstill, it is also surrounded on three sides by the South Loop, where development was nearly non-existent until about 40 years ago. Until 1970, the South Loop could count high crime, rundown housing and a lack of development among the many reasons it was an undesirable location to live. But a few keen developers noticed potential in the former railroad land behind the old Dearborn Station on Polk Street. And, after Papa Bear George Halas (the legendary Chicago Bears coach) was finally convinced to give up his chunk of this land, housing development began.
The city saw potential, too, and started making its own purchases to ensure there would still be plenty of green space when all the construction was said and done. Thank goodness for the Chicago Park District’s forward thinking, because now the heart and soul of the neighborhood is Dearborn Park, a one-and-a-quarter-acre section of greenery with countless trees, flowers, and even an obstacle fitness course.
The first of the new residences to pop up during this overdue building boom in Dearborn Park neighborhood was the Dearborn Park residential complex, which included two separate high-rises—one on each side of the neighborhood. Since then, the area has grown to include a variety of different housing options, the park, and even a few schools to accommodate all of the young families moving into the small subdivision tucked within the South Loop community.
Park is the Place
The actual park in Dearborn Park neighborhood is a 1.25-acre oasis in the middle of the bustling urban setting just beyond the borders of Chicago’s city center. This lush greenscape of grass and trees is situated south of the old Dearborn Street Railroad Station and evolved out of the residential development of Dearborn Park neighborhood. The park, which was created as a commons by the Chicago Park District for the new housing complex in the 1980s, doesn’t have the constant activity of, let’s say, Humboldt Park or Wicker Park. The amenities here are few; instead Dearborn Park (865 S. Park Terrace, 312-742-7648) is more of a calming patch of green to spend your leisure time—a sanctuary of sorts that extends out into the surrounding neighborhood, providing a little extra space in this tightly-packed downtown backdrop.
Still, athletes and amateurs alike have their options for some recreational fun. Residents can play a game of tennis on the onsite courts, or take their daily run around the sidewalks (occasionally stopping by the strategically placed obstacle courses for a few push ups or pull ups). Students like to pull up a patch of shade to study, and city dwellers pause to sit down on one of the park benches and savor a moment of peace in their busy schedules.
While parents may bring their children to Dearborn Park for some playtime, a more kid-friendly destination is the park at the South Loop Elementary School (1212 S Plymouth Ct, 773-534-8690). It has everything that is essential to making a fun park: bright colors, swings, slides, monkey bars, things to climb on, and plenty of benches where parents can watch from afar.
Dearborn Park Real Estate
From trendy new condominiums to traditional townhomes, Dearborn Park offers Chicagoans the ultimate urban lifestyle. Since Dearborn Park is a relatively new neighborhood, you’re not going to find any old brownstones here. Instead, this area is full of modern architecture, although some of the buildings do follow vintage designs. The beginning of development in this area came in the form of high-rise apartments, and has followed with mid-rise lofts, condos and townhome complexes.
As for location, those who choose to live in Dearborn Park have the choice of either uber-urban digs—positioned right on busy thoroughfares like State Street—or something tucked away on a secluded residential side street with all the idyllic trees and chirping birds to go with it. Young working singles love the Dearborn Park area for the affordable real estate and the investment in an up-and-coming area, while young families appreciate the calm, semi-suburban feel in the center of the city. Whatever brings you here, living in this neighborhood means that you’re only a few blocks away from the namesake park, and residents take full advantage of the patch of green by playing with the kids, walking the dogs, or just reading in the sunshine.
Townhouses in Dearborn Park are spacious and well-equipped with all the modern amenities, luxury finishes and even garage parking spots for your vehicles. Of course a home with all that doesn’t come cheap. The price for a two- or three-bedroom townhome in Dearborn Park generally starts at around $475,000, and if you want, you can easily spend close to $800,000. Condo units in the neighborhood are a little more moderately priced but still provide beautiful layouts with floor to ceiling windows, high-quality construction, current upgrades, and many even have balconies. Homebuyers can expect to find most of the two-bedroom condos and lofts in the area to cost between $275,000 and $500,000. These units typically come with garage parking for one car. Smaller places are available starting in the low $200,000s.
What’s on the Menu?
We’re betting that Dearborn Park is the city’s next great culinary neighborhood. But that may be a few years down the line. In the meantime, we’ll settle for a quick bite at the inexpensive grab-and-go kind of eateries that currently exist. It works for us, since there’s so much to do on this side of town, we can’t bear to be sitting inside a restaurant for too long anyway.
If it’s a good old-fashioned sandwich you’re after, stop into Jimmy John’s (725 S State St, 312-212-1010), an outpost of the growing national chain. They pile all the fixins on soft, fresh-baked French bread and their sandwich combinations are mini-explosions of flavor. We’re partial to the Pepe (ham, cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato), but the Vito (an Italian sub with salami, provolone, capicola and onions) is just as tasty. Other menu suggestions include the Turkey Tom (turkey, sprouts, lettuce, tomato and mayo) and the Totally Tuna (tuna salad with sprouts, cucumber, lettuce and tomato). Jimmy John’s is quick, filling, delicious and cheap. What could be better?
Pizza Ria (719 S State St, 312-957-1111) is the fast and easy way to satisfy that pizza craving—which we all have once in a while, or in our case, at least once a week. Though people typically think of Chicago pizza as deep dish, there is none of that here. Instead they serve up crispy thin crust and New York-style pizza, which has a slightly doughier crust. But whether it’s chewy or crisp, the crusts are always cooked to perfection, and accompany the original pizza flavors perfectly. Sure, there’s your typical sausage, pepperoni, veggie and cheese, but Pizza Ria spices it up with pies like the BBQ chicken, the Hula Hawaiian-style, and the Malibu, which combines chicken, mozzarella and ranch dressing. Different, but good. We think people prefer this joint to other pizzerias because here you can get it either by the slice or whole pie. So whether you want a quick bite at lunch or need to feed the whole family dinner, this Dearborn Park staple hits the nail right on the head.
It’s easy to get burned out on fast food, so, thankfully, Dearborn Park does have a sit-down-and-relax type of restaurant in the neighborhood. Blackie’s (755 S Clark St, 312-786-1161) touts its fare with a sign above the door that reads: "Better food than most hospitals." We’ll give them more credit than that. Their bleu cheese burger is a big delicious mess, and their onion rings, dipped in a house-made beer batter, are crisped to perfection. We don’t know about you, but we’ve found getting a good order of onion rings is pretty tricky, so when we find that place that does ‘em right, you can bet we’ll be back for another round before long. Not all Dearborn Park residents are in for the fried fodder; instead many locals visit this laid-back neighborhood restaurant for their simple eggs-and-bacon brunch. The old-school 1960s feel of the place makes Blackie’s a good stop for a beer or two after work, whether you prefer to take your drink inside or out on the spacious patio.
Best Shopping Stops
Dearborn Park might not be shopping central, but does it make a difference when the two stores you do have in your neighborhood are the only two stores you really need?
If your place is new, as many in Dearborn Park are, chances are you’re going to need some hardware for all those do-it-yourself projects, right? Luckily there’s a handy hardware store within walking distance. South Loop Ace Hardware (725 S State St, 312-461-0900) has everything you need to color, coat and create in your new home. From paint and caulk to planters and patio grills (to celebrate after it’s all over), they’ve got everything you need right at your fingertips in this local neighborhood store. Plus, the super-friendly staff at this Ace Hardware is eager to help you find what you need, and even offer a tip or two on how to attack that weekend "Honey Do" list. Nuts and bolts aside, Dearborn Park residents are the envy of every other Chicagoan. Why? Because Dearborn Parkers have a Target (1154 S Clark St, 312-212-6301) in their neighborhood. Now if there is a one-stop shop to top them all, Target is it. Truly a shopper-on-the-go’s favorite for electronics, clothing, groceries, entertainment, greeting cards, shoes, pots and pans, home accessories, beauty products, cleaning supplies, and basically everything else under the sun, we’d say this superstore has hit the bull’s-eye on consumer convenience. The prices are more than agreeable, the quality is top-notch, and the fact that you can get everything in one place is nothing to sneeze at. Bring an extra set of hands if you decide to walk. We’ve never left Target with less than four bags.
Night on the Town
Thus far, most of the development in the neighborhood has focused around that of housing and a couple retail buildings, so Dearborn Park’s nightlife isn’t exactly jumpin’. Not that that matters. You’re on the heels of downtown, so there’s always something to do in this area. But should you need a drink at the local neighborhood bar, there is one option we’re fond of called Tantrum (1023 S State St, 312-939-9160). With a focus on martinis (although scotch, imported beers and wine are also popular) and plush oversized furniture, this spot is as swanky as the townhomes going up around it. Drawing a mix of happy hour crews early on and low-key neighbors later in the evening, Tantrum keeps people coming back for its Van Morrison-stocked jukebox, chocolate martinis and the romantic secluded booths in the back that are ideal for a date.
Mark Your Calendar
The small area and the fact that Dearborn Park is still building up are two of the reasons the neighborhood doesn’t have its own summer festival yet, but we’re not sure it really needs one. Dearborn Park is within walking distance of Grant Park, so most of the city’s major events are practically in Dearborn Park’s backyard. Concerts, festivals, movies and, of course, the Taste of Chicago, are all held in the legendary Grant Park. And because the streets of Dearborn Park butt up to those of Printers Row neighborhood, the residents here play secondary host to the Printers Row Book Fair, one of the largest free literary gatherings in the country, which takes place the second weekend in June each year.
Owning a car in the Dearborn Park area is only slightly easier than owning one in central downtown. While the blocks of strictly residential streets add a little ease to the parking situation, Dearborn Park still has the crowded streets, meters and dozens of "No Parking" signs of downtown Chicago. Only the relief of the occasional permit-parking street can help Dearborn Park residents. Oh, and the purchased parking spot, too.
But for those who don’t have a four-wheeled vehicle to contend with, the CTA is literally right at your fingertips in Dearborn Park. You can’t turn a corner without seeing at least one transportation option, whether it’s bus or train. The Roosevelt station is right in the center of the neighborhood where you can access three different "El" trains—the Red Line heads down through Chinatown or up to the northern neighborhoods, the Orange Line goes out to Midway Airport, and the Green Line goes south or west past the Garfield Conservatory—and they all pass through the Loop where passengers can transfer to any other train line.
And if it’s a bus you want, it’s a bus you will get. The oh-so-convenient #22 Clark Street bus originates in this area and basically takes you through the Loop and to the far northern reaches of the city, if you want. Just south of the neighborhood, catch the #62 Archer/Harlem bus to take you all the way west, or the #24 Wentworth bus to get south. The #36 Broadway bus also goes north, but the route runs further east than the Clark street line. If you’re planning on sticking around the neighborhood or near downtown and it just happens to be a bright, beautiful sunny day outside, we recommend traveling by foot—it really is the best way to go.
School’s in Session
Dearborn Park is a young neighborhood, with many young families who have young children—but with the several preschool and elementary school options here, parents have plenty of choices on where to enroll their little bundles of joy for early education classes. In addition to the following list, you can find out more information about Dearborn Park and other Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Honey Tree Learning Center - 1325 S State St - (312) 913-9060
KinderCare Learning Center - 1501 S State St - (312) 913-1557
South Loop Elementary School - 1212 S Plymouth Ct - (773) 534-8690
In a blossoming neighborhood like Dearborn Park, new businesses pop up every day, which means you can find those essential establishments to satisfy your everyday needs right around the corner from home. To give you an idea of what this Chicago neighborhood has to offer, we’ve compiled a list of places where residents can get those daily necessities.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
US Post Office - 19 W 16th St - (312) 225-8093
Fitness Formula - 1151 S State St - (312) 360-1151
South Loop Ace Hardware - 725 S State St - (312) 461-0900
Target Stores Pharmacy - 1154 S Clark St - (312) 212-6301
Blackie’s - 755 S Clark St - (312) 786-1161
Pizza Ria - 719 S State St - (312) 957-1111
Jimmy John’s - 725 S State St - (312) 212-1010
Tantrum - 1023 S State St - (312) 939-9160
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Dearborn Park offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Dearborn Park 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
Dearborn Park 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. Like a Yellow Pages, Metromix and MLS database all rolled into one, this site is your ultimate Chicago neighborhoods visitors’ guidebook.