A petite, sub-neighborhood nestled within the larger borders of East Garfield Park, Fifth City's residential streets are located just minutes away from Chicago's bustling downtown. Fifth City offers folks affordable homes in classic brick flats, near to major transportation systems and one of the town's largest parks. More spacious and spread out than other Chicago neighborhoods, Fifth City has quite a bit of undeveloped land and open lots. A trim group of restaurants and businesses hug the community's eastern border, but residents can easily head across the street for additional dining and shopping.
Fifth City Facts
Location: 4 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Garfield Park, Homan Square, Lawndale, West Garfield Park
Boundaries: Madison Street to the north, Congress Parkway to the south, Kedzie Avenue to the east and Central Park Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Situated on a square section of land carved out of greater East Garfield Park neighborhood, Fifth City has experienced many ups and downs since 1869, when it was annexed into Chicago. Flooded with real estate dealings after the designation of nearby 185-acre Garfield Park in 1869 (the park, not the neighborhood), Fifth City’s vacant lots became hot commodities. But after the property was divvied up and construction was slated to begin, the developers didn’t hold up their end of the bargain and the land was left devoid of the promised buildings and infrastructure. The unoccupied lots traded hands until 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. Mistrustful of the city’s ability to rebuild after the fire and wary of the prospect of another large-scale fire, developers began searching outside Chicago’s city limits for construction opportunities, deserting the neighborhood’s original plans.
Another impediment to Fifth City’s progress was an unreliable transportation system. However, that changed in 1893 when the Lake Street Elevated laid down tracks in East Garfield Park, bringing an influx of commercial development into the area with it. Factories and businesses, plus two-flats and small apartment buildings, sprouted up along the rails. And by 1914, modest homes and commercial industry filled the once abandoned neighborhood heightening its position as a desirable place to live.
Fifth City continued on its prosperous path until the Great Depression and World War II. As times grew increasingly tougher, the neighborhood’s spacious, single family homes were converted into smaller units—each of which was chockfull of boarders. Sadly, the general state of Fifth City neighborhood fell into disrepair, once again. Housing conditions continued to decline throughout the 1960s, and requests for restorations and simple repairs were ignored by negligent landlords. In view of the less-than-lovely scene, residents and businesses alike moved out of the area.
Despite a streak of rough luck, Fifth City is currently experiencing a social and economic renewal. Developers, attracted to the neighborhood’s reasonable property prices and close proximity to the Loop, have swooped in, intent on restoring historic homes and buildings, in addition to constructing new ones. Unlike other parts of town, Fifth City still has a sizeable portion of unused land, providing rare opportunities for major development projects. And with the scenic landscapes, vast open space, and recreational activities of Garfield Park surrounding the tiny neighborhood on two sides, this western Chicago enclave has "future hotspot" written all over it.
Compared to many of Chicago’s neighborhoods, Fifth City is less densely developed, with the residential buildings and businesses spaced out throughout the community’s wide boulevards. The blocks are lined with century-old graystones and vintage brick apartment buildings, many of which have been rehabbed and updated. The neighborhood also offers a selection of recent constructions, including luxury condos, townhouses, mid-rises and affordable housing developments. A mix of old and new, Fifth City provides something for everyone and every budget.
A one- or two-bedroom condo in Fifth City neighborhood typically ranges from the low $100,000s to $200,000. These residences vary in style from brand new structures with modern designs to older redbrick buildings with remodeled interiors. Three-bedrooms generally up the price to between the mid $100,000s and the upper $200,000s, including some half-duplexes and refurbished condo lofts, all providing comfortable living spaces with contemporary style and amenities. Attached housing is much more common in this west side Chicago neighborhood, however there is a handful of detached single-family homes on the market here. But for the most part homebuyers will find the value is in the multi-unit real estate.
What’s on the Menu?
While the dining-out options are sparse within this small Chicago neighborhood’s confines, Fifth City is hardly void of classic American cuisine. Local joints, like Lambert Grill (3360 W. Jackson Blvd, 773-265-5660), are popular with Fifth City residents for their comfort food and comfortable setting. Nothing pretentious, just good grub. Another neighborhood favorite is Jimmy G’s Restaurant (307 S. Kedzie Ave, 773-533-1790), well known for juicy chicken and burgers served up on toasted buns, and J & J Fish (411 S. Kedzie Ave, 773-265-1577) is home to fried fish dishes and some of the city’s best okra.
But like we said, Fifth City is a pocketsize community—fortunately the surrounding East Garfield Park neighborhood is chockfull of tons more traditional restaurants where you can eat your fill of fish, barbecue ribs and soul food. And if you’re craving culinary variety, bring your tastebuds to nearby Homan Square or Lawndale, where the tantalizing flavors range from Mexican to Chinese, Greek to Italian.
Best Shopping Stops
Like the neighborhood’s dining options, Fifth City’s shopping spots are scarce. However, the neighborhood is not completely bereft of retail outlets. We keep up your look with provisions from Happy Beauty Supply (13 S. Kedzie Ave, 773-638-2383) or the latest gear and gadgets from Westside Communications & Apparel (15 S. Kedzie Ave, 773-265-7639). There are also plenty of places to spend your dime nearby. Whether you’re searching for a new pair of shoes, a seasonal closet update or the latest electronic toy or tool, you can find what you’re looking for at one of East Garfield Park’s many strip malls. Or grab a cab, hop on a bus, or travel by "El" to the Loop, which is conveniently located about 15 minutes away. There, Fifth City residents can join the ranks of shoppers from all over the city—and the globe, for that matter—to experience Chicago’s world-class retail first hand. Once in the midst of State Street’s mega stores like Macy’s, H&M and Urban Outfitters, you won’t give a second’s thought to making the trip outside the neighborhood digs for a little shopping spree on the town.
Traversing the city is an easy task from Fifth City. The Blue Line 'El' (Chicago’s train/subway system that operates underground, at street level and on segments of elevated track) and several CTA bus routes run right through the neighborhood, giving residents loads of public transportation options for getting around Fifth City as well as the city at large. We can pick up the Blue Line at the Kedzie-Homan stop, situated at the neighborhood’s southeast corner. A ride on the train provides a quick and reliable trip to downtown. Or, if you are heading out of town—way out of town—the Blue Line takes passengers to O’Hare International Airport as well.
If traveling by car is your preferred mode of transit, you can pop right on to I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway), which runs along the neighborhood’s southern border. This highway dead-ends right in the city after crossing the Chicago River, so it’s a great way to shoot downtown or head over to Grant Park for some weekend leisure time with the friends and family. I-290 also connects with I-90/94 (Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways), offering Fifth City residents a straightforward route to other destinations north or south of the Loop. The only downside to taking the highways is the fact that everyone else with a car also wants to take the highway. Yep, this is a big city folks, and with that comes big city traffic. So, during rush hour—and other random times during the day, for no apparent reason—expect backups along these major expressways.
Although Fifth City neighborhood is hardly out in the boondocks, hailing a cab around here may prove a bit trickier than in Chicago’s downtown districts. You’re best bet is to call ahead to be picked up, or trek to one of the neighborhood’s major intersections and keep your eyes peeled—and be prepared to wait.
School’s in Session
Fifth City neighborhood may be tiny in acreage, but families in the area will find there are plenty of public and private schools established here to serve the needs of their school-age children. In addition to the following list of Fifth City educational facilities, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at Chicago Public Schools and Great Schools.
Fifth City Child Development Institute - 3411 W 5th Ave - (773) 826-8686
Leif Ericson Public School - 3600 W 5th Ave - (773) 534-6660
Marshall High School - 3250 W Adams St - (773) 534-6455
Providence St Mel High School - 119 S Central Park Blvd - (773) 722-4600
So, if you haven’t gotten the big picture on Fifth City yet, it’s one of Chicago’s smaller neighborhoods that has matured around residential existence, rather than thriving nightlife or major retail shops. You can find all that nearby, but for folks who reside in this west side community, all the everyday essentials, from cooking oil and spices to shampoo and conditioner, are available around the corner from home.
Chicago Transit Authority - 888-968-7282
Advocate Bethany Hospital - 3435 W Van Buren St - (773) 265-7700
Kennedy Sons Inc. - 3563 W 5th Ave - (773) 722-0903
Roseland Food & Liquor - 3407 W. Madison St - (773) 533-0646
Happy Beauty Supply - 13 S. Kedzie Ave - 773-638-2383
Westside Communications & Apparel - 15 S. Kedzie Ave - (773) 265-7639
J & J Fish - 411 S Kedzie Ave - (773) 265-1577
Jimmy G’s Restaurant - 307 S. Kedzie Ave - (773) 533-1790
Lambert Grill - 3360 W. Jackson Blvd - (773) 265-5660
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, 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 Fifth City 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 Fifth City . 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.