Situated in a pocket of Chicago's sought-after Lincoln Park neighborhood, the small enclave of DePaul, which rests just to the east of the DePaul University campus, boasts lofty housing values and exquisite residential architecture comparable to that of its big sister neighborhood. New construction condos and rehabs of old townhomes are a common sight in DePaul, however, the community is steeped in elegant traces of the Victorian era with stately brownstone walkups and towering hundred-year-old trees. The bursting commercial and entertainment options in Lincoln Park encircle the DePaul neighborhood, which still holds its own with a couple bars and a popular French restaurant that attracts customers from all over the city.
Location: 2 miles north of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Lincoln Park, Lathrop, Lakeview, West Lakeview
Boundaries: Ashland Avenue to the west, Diversey Avenue to the north, Fullerton Avenue to the south and Southport to the east
Then and Now
The neighborhood of DePaul is a tiny residential community that rests adjacent to DePaul University’s campus. Due to its proximity to the school this small subdivision of Lincoln Park was named after the celebrated institute of higher learning. DePaul University is the biggest Roman Catholic university in the country. Its roots go as far back as 1875, when Vincentian fathers arrived and laid the groundwork for the school.
A little further back than that, DePaul and the surrounding land was farm-laden. German truck farmers were the first to populate the area. A more urban environment began to take shape through the 1860s. The Great Fire of 1871 swept through the city’s core and hit the DePaul landscape as well. Citizens held on strong, living in rough shacks, not abandoning their land, until they could put their homes back together. The aftermath of this tragic event brought forth new housing codes by the city and as a result brick became in heavy fashion. Some of the homes built in DePaul still stand today, giving the neighborhood its vintage architectural charm.
The late 1870s saw more European immigrants arriving to this section of the city as they took on jobs in factories that lined the nearby Chicago River. About a decade later, in 1898, DePaul University officially opened its doors. At the time it was called St. Vincent’s (for St. Vincent de Paul) but the name was changed not long after. The school quickly became a well respected institution that brought attention to the area.
It’s hard to believe when touring the area now, with its shady streets and beautiful stone and redbrick walk-ups, that both the DePaul and Lincoln Park neighborhoods were on the verge of becoming slums. The Great Depression and World War II had harsh effects on property value. Neighborhood associations were formed in the 1950s in order to turn the trend around. These groups pushed individual homeowners to revitalize their homes. They also established ways for residents to acquire money from the government in order to restore the historic residences and return the streets to their former glory. Public and private renewal continued for decades, making this neighborhood one of the most impressive in Chicago.
DePaul occupies a small section of the city, ten square blocks between the much-traversed Diversey and Fullerton avenues. Since it sits on the outer northwest corner of the desirable Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, DePaul is strongly influenced by its larger sister community. Many of the residences within these boundaries are awe-inspiring three- and four-story townhomes bordered by stately wrought-iron fences and landscaped front patios, much like those in Lincoln Park.
DePaul Real Estate
These peaceful and pristine streets are sheltered by towering hundred-year-old trees where double- and single-strollers zip down sidewalks past many a jogger and dog-walker. The area is one of the most sought after when it comes to real estate. New constructions are in abundance, popping up in between the stately vintage buildings that remain from the days of old.
Really, just an extension of Lincoln Park, the residential blocks in DePaul neighborhood have charming beauty about them that captures the eye—and many times the heart—of many potential homeowners. Tightly-packed shaded lots house an architectural mix of well-maintained homes, most worth quite a bit of money. Two- and three-bedroom detached single-family homes start in the five and six-hundred thousands, but there are many options that raise the bar on residential property. Some of the most expensive lots in DePaul neighborhood include stately three- and four-story detached townhomes with five bedrooms that sell for between $1.6 and $3.1 million.
While the single-family dwellings are beautiful and highly desirable, many families and DePaul residents live quite comfortably in the condominiums and lofts that are also found within the neighborhood’s borders. For a one- or two-bedroom with a parking space, you can expect to pay at least $300,000, although you’d have to shop around for that sort of price. On the high end of the listings, you’ll find three-bedroom units with a two-car garage in the six and seven-hundred thousands.
What’s on the Menu?
Since it is virtually a part of the larger Lincoln Park neighborhood which has an overabundance of eateries, there’s really no need for DePaul to have a very extensive culinary scene. In fact, it is quiet the opposite. One heavy-hitting restaurant stands firm as DePaul’s only true neighborhood dining spot.
Found in the southwestern corner of DePaul, Sweets & Savories (1534 W Fullerton Ave, 773-281-6778) is a restaurant where no one dare skip dessert. Between the lemoncello cheesecake and dark chocolate fondant cake, how do you choose? Hmmm, we think the best way to go is just to try the five course dessert tasting—that way you get to try them all. As for the rest of the menu, Chef David Richards combines contemporary French and American fares to captivate his diners and keep them coming back again and again. Topping the list of popular entrees are the lobster risotto, the marinated king salmon, and the duck and goat cheese salad. The wine list offers an assortment of French, Italian, and Californian vintages as well as a variety of champagnes to complement your meal. Warm tones and French music create a relaxing mood where DePaul local, Lincoln Park residents and the occasional DePaul University student can enjoy the sweet and savory masterpieces from appetizer to after dinner delight.
Best Shopping Spots
Just like its solitary restaurant supports the local dining scene, a single storefront epitomizes DePaul’s shopping district (if you can call it that), aside from the couple hardware stores also located along the neighborhood’s main arteries of traffic.
One little gem of a shop that has been servicing the DePaul neighborhood residents for years is Jan Dee Custom Jewelers (1425 W Diversey Ave, 773-871-2222). Jan Dee has been here since 1973. This jeweler specializes in wedding and engagement rings and even has in-house designers who can help people customize their rings and make their own ideas come life. Nothing says "I love you" like putting up the dough for an original. Not much of a visionary? Well there are ready-made beauties waiting to be plucked from Jan Dee’s clutches. With a fantastic attention to detail, the staff gives their customers a crash course in diamonds 101 as they peruse the showcases, so shoppers often come in knowing nothing about gems and depart knowing everything, at least enough to answer their future fiancee’s inquiries about the rock. Jan Dee hand selects their stones which come from suppliers following ethical standards set forth by the United Nations. As opposed to looking around online, this DePaul neighborhood jeweler strongly encourages customers to come in and see them in person where a trained eye can provide superior guidance in helping you pick from their sparkling gemstones and settings. Jan Dee also repairs and refurbishes aged or antique jewelry.
Night on the Town
For its small boundaries, DePaul has a couple of nighttime hotspots that are always jumping, in part because of the adjacent university campus teeming with students and young folks who sometimes seem to spend as much time partying as they do studying.
For live music we head to the Birds Nest (2500 N Southport Ave, 773-472-1502) where there is usually a band or a DJ playing in the back room, a.k.a. the Sound Lounge. Open mics take place once a week for anyone itching to embrace their inner American Idol, or looking to overcome their stage fright. An added bonus, in case you’re planning a major event: the Sound Lounge is available for private parties that include drink and food specials. For the regular visitor, though, we recommend showing up on a Thursday night when the chicken wings (highly rated by the Chicago Tribune) are 25 cents a piece and the Budweisers are only $1.50. Tuesdays are also good as Miller Lite and High Life are specially priced at $2.50 a bottle. All those students struggling to get by on a budget love these deals and crowd into Birds Nest with conviction, so come early if you want to get seat. The rest of the menu is certainly worth reading as items are uniquely named, (e.g. Road Runner Quesadilla and Larry Bird Pizza). Karaoke kings can show up Monday to belt away, play free pool in between songs, and take advantage of the Coronas and taco special.
The Southport City Saloon (2548 N Southport Ave, 773-975-6110) is housed by a building that has been standing since 1885. After a hundred-year long juggling act of ownership and renovation, the saloon took shape in 1979. The interior features a lot of that old-fashioned dark wood, a roomy dining room, and a separate area for billiards players. Outside is a stone-laid patio with an outdoor fireplace for those of us who seek fresher air and an ambient setting. DePaul neighborhood residents come here to sip on a beer, while oftentimes ordering a little munchie off the menu of top-notch offerings such as baked goat cheese, sesame chicken salad, juicy New York strip steak, tilapia, and much more. Beers flow smoothly from the taps as the locals hide out in Southport to get away from the grind and kick back with friends.
The tiny DePaul neighborhood takes but a few minutes to traverse on foot. This, or bicycle, would be the best bets for short-distance destinations since driving and parking in the neighborhood can be difficult. The lake is not far at all from here and the vast and eventful Lincoln Park neighborhood is right next door for all to explore.
Although not situated directly within the DePaul borders, access to Chicago rapid transit is nearby. The CTA Brown Line and Red Line trains (also known to Chicagoans as the 'El' for their sections of elevated track) are several blocks east along Fullerton Avenue or Diversey Parkway. Bus routes run along both streets to pick up passengers and transport them to the El stops, although, if it’s a nice day, the walk is quite pleasant too. Both the Brown and Red line will take you right into the heart of the Downtown Loop or further north if you get on going the opposite direction.
DePaul residents with cars have options for getting around as well. First of all, there is the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94), to the west. You can race the buses along Fullerton—well, not really race, but you probably will pass them on your way over to the highway which has an entrance ramp on this street. Once on the Kennedy, it’s a straight shot to downtown Chicago—if the traffic isn’t too bad—or out to O’Hare International Airport, if you have a plane to catch.
Run out of sugar, detergent, or perhaps aspirin? Here are some DePaul locales that will get you back to square one.
J & R Liquor and Food 2401 N Ashland Ave (773) 472-1332
Walgreens 1520 W Fullerton Ave (773) 929-6968
Wrightwood Park 2534 N Greenview Ave (312) 742-7816
Hollywood Industrial Supply 1524 W Fullerton Ave (773) 549-2565
Jan Dee Custom Jewelers 1425 W Diversey Pkwy (773) 871-2222
Nuts Bolts & Nuts 2719 N Ashland Ave (773) 404-6017
Sweets & Savories 1534 W Fullerton Ave (773) 281-6778
Birds Nest 2500 N Southport Ave (773) 472-1502
Southport City Saloon 2548 N Southport Ave (773) 975-6110
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 and 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 DePaul 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 DePaul. 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.