Fuller Park is a slender 15-block south side community that hugs the west side of the Dan Ryan Expressway between Pershing Road and Garfield Boulevard. The neighborhood is named after Melville Fuller, a Chicago resident who served as the Chief Justice of the United States between 1888 and 1910. But the area's history is only the base on which this stretching neighborhood was built. Today Fuller Park inhabitants enjoy recreational community programs and activities offered at the namesake park. When the weather is nice, the outdoor baseball fields, tennis courts, playground, and kiddie spraypool are always in use. But for the winter months, the indoor gymnasium is in full swing, keeping everyone active throughout the hibernation season.
Fuller Park Facts
Location: About 8 miles south of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Bronzeville, Washington Park, Englewood, Bridgeport, Back-of-the-Yards
Boundaries: Pershing Road to the north, the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east, Garfield Boulevard to the south and the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad lines to the west
Then and Now
For the past fifty years, the big story in the Fuller Park neighborhood has been the Dan Ryan Expressway, which knifed through and dislocated the community, while at the same time connecting it to Chicago’s downtown economy and jobs. Before the Dan Ryan construction, which began in the early 1960s, the neighborhood was known as Canaryville or New City, and it gained a reputation as one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago beginning in the late 19th century.
Throughout most of the 1800s, though, Fuller Park was not considered part of the city of Chicago; instead it was a southern suburb in the township of Lake. From the 1860s until the turn of the century, the area was largely Irish and many neighborhood residents were employed by the railroad or worked at the stockyards, which were located just to the west in what is know now as Back-of-the-Yards.
Directly following the Chicago Fire of 1871, Fuller Park experienced a housing boom because it became cheaper and easier for entrepreneurs to build outside the city limits due to increasingly strict building and fire codes. Lake Township was annexed by Chicago in 1889 bringing demographic change for Fuller Park. Always a poor neighborhood, Fuller Park became a launch pad for new arrivals and European immigrants for the next few generations. German and Austrian immigrants arrived in Fuller Park in the 1890s, and were soon followed by a wave of African American families. By the 1920s, the population had again shifted, with the Irish, German and Austrian residents moving north and giving way to the arrival of Mexicans, Eastern Europeans, and more African Americans.
In 1950, construction began on the Dan Ryan Expressway, which had a profound impact on Fuller Park. The new highway effectively divided the neighborhood in half and displaced more than one-third of the population. At the same time, the local economy began a rapid decline as production at the stockyards slowed. Between 1945 and 1970, Fuller Park’s demographics reveal a change that went from 80 percent white to 97 percent African American, due to migration from the south and an increasingly segregated housing market in Chicago. The Union Stock Yard finally closed in 1971, leaving many in the neighborhood jobless. Between the 1970s and 2000, the population of Fuller Park dropped steadily and there was little to no new residential or commercial development in the area.
Now, Fuller Park has a mixed-income neighborhood with a staple sense of urban renewal, as community residents have made a push to preserve historic buildings, rehab and expand the park, and to redevelop vacant lots.
The neighborhood’s namesake recreational area, Fuller Park (331 W. 45th St., 312-747-6144), was opened to the public in 1911 after nearly a decade of planning and landscaping. Brothers Fredrick Law and John Charles Olmsted designed the grounds and Edward H. Bennett of D. H. Burnham and Co. joined the team as the park’s architect. The blueprints opted for a children’s courtyard, flanked on either side by buildings. Park amenities offer tennis courts, baseball fields, an indoor gymnasium with a boxing ring, a playground and spray pool for the kiddies, as well as an assembly hall and several paths for walking or jogging.
Fuller Park Real Estate
Small one- and two-story single-family frame houses are common along the residential streets of Fuller Park neighborhood. While several homes have been renovated with modern updates, there are still plenty of those lovely fixer-uppers that need a bit of work and a fresh coat of paint. Most three- or four-bedroom detached dwellings in Fuller Park are listed for less than $200,000 with many options in the low $100,000s. You can even buy vacant properties for as little as $50,000 here. As for multi-unit residences, the amount of available housing is more limited. Still there are older attached townhomes with two bedrooms for between $70,000 and $80,000, and some newer model condos and half-duplexes for between $220,000 and $340,000.
Though the housing market in Fuller Park is experiencing an uptick, it is still primarily a rental market, with more than two-thirds of the properties in the neighborhood housing rental units. And while there are many simple sided homes, the neighborhood boasts a rich architectural legacy, as several buildings have survived from before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Notably, there are several frame houses that still stand on Wells Street and Princeton Avenue, as well as several in the romantic Queen Ann style that were designed by Henry Newhouse in the 1880s.
Indeed, Fuller Park neighborhood is located smack in the middle of one of the biggest trade routes in the Midwest. The community is wedged between a 12-lane interstate highway on the east and heavily-traveled railway tracks to the west, used both by Amtrak and the Rock Island Railroad Metra line. Though the ongoing construction on the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) has created a headache for residents of Fuller Park, they live in one of the most easily accessible neighborhoods in Chicago.
But even if you don’t have a car, or if you prefer not to drive when going downtown—since parking is not the easiest down there—residents can hop on the CTA Red Line train for a quick trip to the Loop. Because it is such a long and narrow neighborhood, there are two Red Line stations in Fuller Park. South of Chinatown, the Red Line runs in the median of the Dan Ryan, and within Fuller Park there are stops at 47th Street and Garfield Boulevard (55th Street). There are also popular east/west bus routes that run along Pershing Road (#39), 43rd Street (#43), 51st Street (#51), and Garfield (#55, X55). With your choice of bus and train routes to take, getting anywhere in the city is really a cinch from this south side Chicago neighborhood.
School’s in Session
To accommodate its community of young families with school-aged children, Fuller Park has two small elementary schools. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Hendricks Elementary School – 4316 S Princeton Ave – (773) 535-1696
Parkman Elementary School – 245 W 51st St – (773) 535-1740
Although it’s short, we’ve assembled a list of the places you can get a bite to eat in Fuller Park neighborhood, from juicy hamburgers to overflowing burritos. And in case you want to check out just how incredibly accessible Fuller Park is, the CTA has all the info you need for public transit in the city.
Chicago Transit Authority (888) 968-7282
Fuller Park – 331 W 45th St – (312) 747-6144
Pappy’s Restaurant – 250 W 47th St – (773) 624-0377
Los Soles Restaurant – 302 W 47th St – (773) 548-7184
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Fuller Park offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Fuller 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 Fuller 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.