Named after the largest park within its boundaries, Gage Park boasts a vibrant mix of classic character and history. From its charming bungalows to its Irish Catholic and Eastern European heritage, Gage Park embodies the true multicultural spirit of Chicago's neighborhood network. Expanding its diversity in both residential population and culinary options, Gage Park is packed with a variety of restaurants that are sure to please the taste buds, especially if you're hungry for tamales or tacos. Gage Park has a solid roster of Latin American-influenced eateries, seasoned with a pizzeria and traditional Chicago hot dog stand here and there.
Gage Park Facts
Location: Approximately seven miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Chicago Lawn, Brighton Park, Back-of-the-Yards, West Englewood, West Elsdon
Boundaries: Central Park Avenue to the west, 59th Street to the south, Oakley Avenue to the east and 49th Street to the north.
Then and Now
Much of Gage Park’s history revolves around the development of its flagship green space of the same name, Gage Park. In the 1870s, the grounds carried the general name of South Park and were overseen by Commissioner George W. Gage, who died in office in 1875. With the park still in its early developmental stages at the time of his death, Gage’s fellow board members lobbied to have the area named in his honor.
Slowly, more and more land was acquired for the expansion of the community commons, which were anchored at the intersection of Western Avenue and what is now Garfield Boulevard. By 1903, Gage Park acquired ball fields, tennis courts, a wading pool and even a formal garden area. As the park’s aesthetic nature blossomed, the board acquired even more land, extending its reach south and adding a swimming pool, an outdoor gymnasium and a playground. Today the sprawling park defines the character of this largely residential neighborhood.
Gage Park’s early residents were largely Eastern European immigrants and Irish Catholics. In the 1960s and ‘70s, however, the area’s makeup took on a new element with a hefty population of Hispanics and Latinos. Today, it stands as a melting pot of early immigration architectural influences (as seen in the area’s historic bungalows) and vibrant influences of Latino cultural. The park serves as a hub for many parties, events and festivals that give Gage Park its defining tight-knit community charm.
With its 69 acres of elegant green space, Gage Park (2411 W. 55th St., 312-747-6147) is a neighborhood showpiece embracing the community’s own multicultural framework. Its historic fieldhouse is a classically crafted homage to the area’s rich heritage. Constructed in 1926, the building boasts two murals on the interior walls that can still be viewed today. One of the murals portrays folk traditions of local immigrants while the other depicts a scene of explorers and pioneers looking westward to opportunities beyond the horizon.
One of the Gage Park’s most sparkling features is its spacious swimming pool, which hosts an array of swim lessons for young children. On those humid days of summer in Chicago when you’re already wet from perspiration, nothing feels better than a dip in the cool blue. And now that the children have learned how to doggy paddle and hold their breath underwater from their classes, parents can relax and enjoy the pool with peace of mind. Speaking of summer and kids, the little ones can also participate in day camps held on park grounds, while the fieldhouse hosts a series of energetic aerobics classes for the adults. Around the premises, the park offers two trail options for the runners, joggers, speed walkers and amblers: Gage Park path and Gage Park track. Both clock in at just under a mile, so either way you go you’ll be able to give the legs a good stretch with a single lap.
Also located on the western border of Gage Park (the neighborhood, not the park) is Senka Park (5656 S. Saint Louis Ave., 312-747-7632), a scenic square of land that grew from an abandoned rail yard. Created in 1971, the park tripled in size in 1990 with the help of Trust for Public Land, a community organization that successfully negotiated the expansion of the urban green space. Since then, the Chicago Park District has pooled its resources to create new facilities for the neighborhood’s secondary sports and recreation area, including new ball fields and tennis courts.
Senka Park also has a walking trail that winds for more than a mile down St. Louis Avenue. The park is also home to the Chicago Parks District’s"Movies in the Park" series during the summer months which attracts many Gage Park residents who want to spend an evening with family and friends under the stars, while watching the stars on the big screen.
Gage Park Real Estate
As part of Chicago’s historic 'Bungalow Belt' Gage Park is primarily comprised of single-family, owner-occupied homes. For the most part, middle income families populate this southwest neighborhood. During the past two decades especially, Gage Park has experienced a transition as many of the older residents of European descent have aged and moved to the suburbs, and new Latino and African American families have moved in. There have also been a significant number of new neighbors from the Middle East and Lithuania, making this Chicago neighborhood one of the city’s most diverse.
Gage Park’s housing stock is primarily made of brick bungalows and ranch-style homes. Between the First World War and the Great Depression, more than 80,000 bungalows were built in Chicago. These one-and-a-half-story homes, with detailed masonry and windows, pitched roofs containing dormers, sheltered entrances, and neat lawns signified the pursuit of the American Dream. Gage Park is home to a portion of these bungalows, which embody the rich, working-class tradition the neighborhood continues to uphold.
In addition to bungalows, Gage Park has several examples of the Georgian and Cape Cods residential architectural styles, as well as a few condos, town homes and two- and three-flats. Housing continues to be very moderately priced within the Gage Park neighborhood borders. The average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family house is right around $200,000, although there are quite a few three-bedroom properties for under $150,000. For a place with more sleeping space, values average around $220,000 with some costing as much as $400,000. Not as prominent in the Gage Park neighborhood, condos and townhomes typically sell for about $225,000 for a two- or three-bedroom unit. The cost is higher than many single-family homes because many of these multi-unit dwellings are newly built within the last few years or so and boast modern amenities.
What’s on the Menu?
Gage Park’s increasing Hispanic population has given rise to some of the most authentic cultural delights Chicago has to offer. We suggest you dine out often and discover all of the culinary gems hiding out on Gage Park’s quaint southwest streets.
Gage Park presents a slew of street corner-style culinary haunts. We discovered that those with the most unassuming storefronts often serve up the best down-home dishes of the day. What tops our list? Start with El Taconazo Restaurant (5847 S. Kedzie Ave., 773-918-1577), a bare bones outpost thriving with spicy flavor and seasonings. Once inside, we suggest their signature dish—a killer plate of huevos rancheros. No, they’re not just for breakfast anymore. Indulge in over-easy eggs smothered with El Taconazo’s specialty tomato-based sauce. Be forewarned: It packs quite the spicy kick, but true Mexican cuisine connoisseurs will not want to pass this plate up. An unexpected bonus: El Taconazo serves fresh-squeezed orange juice, made in the kitchen daily.
For the best al pastor (pork) tacos south of 18th Street, we suggest Atotonilco Tortilleria (5656 S. Kedzie Ave., 773-436-4890). These authentic marinated pork tacos out do the rest of the menu, but for the hardcore pork enthusiast, this tiny taqueria demands a visit. The stark dining room may be less appealing to the palate, but tacos-to-go never tasted so good. And speaking of tacos … Elias Tacos (5249 S. Kedzie Ave., 773-476-3173) gets our vote for the all around best tacos in Gage Park neighborhood. But not just their tacos are excelente, try the bistec a la Mexicana (fatty marinated beef), the lightly flavorful seafood soup, or even the surprising shrimp cocktail, which comes doctored up with cilantro and lime, a real taste of what this Gage Park favorite can do for your taste buds. Yup, Elias is a popular spot for neighborhood locals who know good, authentic Mexican cuisine at first bite.
Mexican cuisine may reign supreme in Gage Park, but the southwest neighborhood is also savvy on its pizza know-how. Topping our list in terms of longevity is the esteemed Gino’s Pizza (2945 W 59th St., 773-767-5545) with its 40-plus year tradition of thin crust pizza, savory sauce and the crowned jewel—buttery, cheesy garlic bread. The family-owned business takes its flavors seriously, offering pies loaded with fresh ingredients, along with sandwiches, fish and chicken. There is a small but cozy dining room within, where tables are aligned with traditional red-and-white-checkered cloths. For a true taste of Geneo’s authenticity, as for the garlic bread "Jennifer-style" (that’s the name of the owners’ granddaughter). Translation: extra butter and lotsa, lotsa cheese.
Also vying for top dog on the traditional pizza scale is Pizza Castle (3256 W 55th St., 773-776-1075), another family-owned business that has since moved from its original location on 51st Street and Ashland Avenue. Inside this charming takeout space are the original pizza ovens used in the 1960s. The Castle’s flavorful fennel sausage is also an original work of art, adorning slices and pies in all of its south side glory.
Gage Park cuisine takes a south side slant even further, thanks in part to Chicago’s Original Maxwell Street (5304 S. Western Ave., 773-863-9000). The traditional sausage-and-beef spot puts the Chicago Super Fan at the forefront, grilling-up Chicago dogs and soaking up beef sandwiches for a true Chicago dining experience. The interior dining room boasts plenty of Chicago inspired decor, along with large jars of gardinera to do that pork chop sandwich up right.
Turn down the heat up the street with a chilled-out glass of Mary’s Lemonade (2423 W. 51st St., 773-925-4800). This old-fashioned lemonade nook doesn’t stray far from ‘50s charm. Friendly counter staff whips up made-to-order lemonades, blending ice, lemons and water—and all for $2.50 for a giant glass! And, a round of applause, please—Mary recently entered the 21st century and now serves fruit smoothies and fresh sandwiches along with her famous lemonade. This popular neighborhood spot is a hit with the locals, and, as you can imagine, lines are often out the door in the summertime.
Find more solace in the summer heat at Paleteria Flamingos (2635 W. 51st St.). This unique ice cream and yogurt shop combines traditional American favorites (think sundaes, malts and cones) with the unique cultural influences of Mexico. As a sweet shop, Flamingos offers unique treats like nieves, or Mexican ices, which includes a small number of flavors simply called Diablos. Following the same vein of Mexican candy—that means spicy—Diablos are concocted using seasonings like salt and red chile. When combined with the sweetness of watermelon or tamarind, the result is a striking flavorful profile that demands a second serving. Also on Flamingos menu: flan, arroz con leche (rice pudding) and a chocolate-cinnamon dish simply titled, pay de manaza. Be forewarned: Flamingos is a cash only joint, so unless you’re a glutton for punishment, hit up the ATM before taking the kids out for an afternoon treat.
Gage Park also offers ethnic staples, including the obligatory Chinese takeout spot. Yes, Hong Kong Restaurant (2757 W. 55th St., 773-436-4044) offers a limited dining space, but the majority of these orders are made to carry-out.
Best Shopping Stops
Gage Park houses a few shopping outposts, including the shopping center located at 57th Street and Kedzie Avenue. The strip mall has a number of smaller stores to cover all your basic needs from nail salon to an insurance company. The nearby Kmart (5050 S. Kedzie Ave, 773-476-7887) is a haven for pharmacy and daily needs while Gage Park Food (2801 W. 59th St. 773-737-6806) will provide local residents with a speedy stop for select groceries and everyday items. Third Sunday Food Pantry (5443 S Washtenaw Ave, 773-436-2448) also offers grab-n-go options for those in need of a quick-fix errand run.
Another market gem we found in Gage Park is Mayhew Meats Inc. (3305 W. 55th St., 773-476-5200). At this classic butcher shop, patrons can still order their own cow if they want and have it cut up into steaks. Mayhew also offers an array of chops, sweetbreads and not-so-edible cow or pig parts that go great in … well, we’ll let you figure that out yourself. The prices skew high, but the traditional service makes it all worth it.
Night on the Town
Because Gage Park is largely made up of residential development, happening nightspots are few and far between. The local residents certainly don’t mind. They prefer to keep their quaint, historic streets just the way they are.
In case you do find yourself getting the nighttime itch, consider checking out Ritchie’s Ltd (2748 W. 59th St., 773-776-4402). This neighborhood joint boasts enough local moxie to keep crowds at the dartboards seven days a week. Regulars mull over the week over draft beers and plenty of easy conversation.
Younger twenty-something crowds looking for more entertainment options can certainly check out what’s brewing in nearby Chicago Lawn or West Lawn, if the neighborhood tap is a bit too tame for their weekend plans.
Who needs a sprawling Cineplex when you can watch your favorite film under the stars? Fortunately, Gage Park’s Senka Park (5656 S. Saint Louis Ave., 312-747-7632) plays host to the annual "Movies in the Parks" series sponsored by the Chicago Park District. Presented from June through September of each year,"Movies in the Parks" features more than 150 current and classic movies shown in neighborhood parks throughout the city. At Senka Park, families are found dotting the lawn with picnic baskets and blankets. Many of the movies are family-orientated and range from animated Pixar films to family-themed classics. Screenings begin at dusk and admission is always free.
Mark Your Calendar
Gage Park (2411 W. 55th St., 312-747-6147) serves as the event hub for most of the Gage Park neighborhood festivities. While there are no annual cultural or neighborhood events hosted in the area, special programs, including an annual celebration of Black History Month takes place in the park. The annual "What’s Your Dream?" exhibition occurs in mid-February and features children from the neighboring southwestern communities entertaining audiences with an evening of traditional African dance, poetry readings, drama and drumming.
Because of its residential character, getting around Gage Park is convenient and easy. Oftentimes, residents are found milling through the streets at any given time of day, enjoying the fresh air, or just getting a little exercise. But for those looking to get around more quickly, Gage Park’s thoroughfares are easily accessible via the CTA Orange Line "El" (so-named for the system’s segments of elevated track), which makes stops in the neighborhood at both Kedzie and Western avenues.
In addition to the convenience of the Orange Line, multiple bus routes pass through the heart of the Gage Park community. Bus #59 travels along Gage Park’s southern border, running east to west from Stoney Island all the way past Kedzie and right on to Midway Airport. Bus #55 also travels east/west along Garfield, providing residents with a convenient route right to the neighborhood’s main park area. The #52 travels north and south along Kedzie Aveune and the #49 transports passengers north and south along Western Avenue.
Motorists will find little difficulty parking in Gage Park. Many streets do not require a residential parking permit, but homeowners and renters are advised to check with regulations carefully to avoid ticketing. For those looking to get to the neighborhood from the outlying areas of the city, I-55 (the Stevenson Expressway) is just north of Gage Park and is a handy highway for jetting around town. Use the Kedzie Avenue exit to get to Gage Park.
School’s in Session
Gage Park is home to one of Chicago Public School’s most diverse high schools, Gage Park High School (5630 S. Rockwell St., 773-535-9230). This application-based educational facility is home to a multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial population from four surrounding neighborhoods: Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, New City and West Englewood. With a student body of approximately 1,700 selected scholars, these kids receive specialized education from experienced teachers.
Gage Park is also home to a number of public and private elementary and middle schools. In addition to the following list, for more information on Chicago area schools, please visit Chicago Public Schools. and Great Schools.
Gage Park High School – 5630 South Rockwell St – (773) 535-9230
Florence Nightingale – 5250 S Rockwell St. – (773) 535-9270
Rachel Carson – 5516 S. Maplewood Ave. – (773) 535-9222
St Gall School – 5515 S Sawyer Ave. – (773) 737-3454
Sidney Sawyer – 5248 S Sawyer Ave. – (773) 535-9275
Talman Elementary School – 5450 S Talman Ave. – (773) 535-7850
Rachel Carson Primary – 2550 W 56th – (773) 535-9645
Tamayo School – 5135 S California Ave. – (773) 434-5036
Walter S. Christopher – 5042 S Artesian Ave. – (773) 535-9375
Sandoval Schools – 5534 S St Louis Ave. – (773) 535-0457
Tonti Enrico – 5815 S Homan Ave. – (773) 535-9280
From shopping to stamps, we’ve compiled a list of places in Gage Park that’ll cover all your basic, everyday needs.
Gage Park Branch Library – 2807 West 55th Street – (312) 747-0032
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
6037 South Kedzie Avenue (Closest branch to Gage Park)
Walgreens – 5435 S. Kedzie Ave. – (773) 436-7396
CVS – 5360 S. Western Ave. – (773) 471-3160
Mercy Medical on Pulaski (closest to Gage Park) – 5525 S. Pulaski Rd. – (773) 585-1955
Gage Park Food – 2801 W. 59th St. – (773) 737-6806
Mayhew Meats Inc. – 3305 W. 55th St. – (773) 476-5200
Third Sunday Food Pantry – 5443 S. Washtenaw Ave. – (773) 436-2448
Kmart – 5050 S. Kedzie Ave.
Ritchie’s Ltd – 2748 W. 59th St. – (773) 776-4402
Hong Kong Restaurant – 2757 W. 55th St. – (773) 436-4044
Chicago’s Original Maxwell St. – 5304 S. Western Ave. – (773) 863-9000
Mary’s Lemonade – 2434 W. 51st St. – (773) 925-4800
Desserts and pastries
Paleteria Flamingos – 2635 W. 51st St. – (773) 434-3917
El Taconazo Restaurant – 5847 S. Kedzie Ave. – (773) 918-1577
Elias Tacos – 5249 S. Kedzie Ave. – (773) 476-3173
Atotonilco Tortilleria – 5656 S. Kedzie Ave. – (773) 436-4890
Gino’s Pizza – 2945 W. 59th St. – (773) 767-5545
Pizza Castle – 3256 W. 55th St. – (773) 776-1075
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Gage Park offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Gage 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 Gage 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.