The southwest Chicago neighborhood of Garfield Ridge manages to retain its original rural charm while seamlessly melding urban culture and suburban design. This odd hodgepodge results in an idyllic spot for families, people transitioning to the Chicago area, and anyone who enjoys having a house and yard, but likes to jet into the city at the drop of a hat. With Midway Airport next door, you could jet to any city at the drop of a hat really - but most Garfield Ridge residents prefer to stick to their own neighborhood, which is big on traditional comfort food and friendly pubs. Mom-and-pop bakeries and family-run diners are all the rage in Garfield Ridge, but it's still easy to get a good slice of pizza or slab of ribs whenever the mood strikes.
Garfield Ridge Facts
Location: Approximately 12 miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Clearing, Midway, Vittum Park, Archer Heights, Forest View
Boundaries: 51st Street and 55th Street to the north, 59th Street to the south, Cicero Avenue and Central Avenue to the east, and Harlem Avenue to the west
Then and Now
This southwest Chicago neighborhood may be right next door to Midway Airport, one of America’s busiest transportation hubs, but that hasn’t stopped it from maintaining its quaint country charm.
When speculators reached Garfield Ridge during the 1800s, they didn’t anticipate that the soggy marshland would foil their plans to cultivate the area. As quickly as they arrived, these early settlers quit the hard-to-farm terrain and only one man was left holding most of the land: William Archer, who was the commissioner of the Illinois & Michigan Canal purchased over 240 acres stretching from present-day Archer Avenue to Harlem Avenue. Archer held on as the largest landholder in the area until 1853, when former Chicago mayor John Wentworth bought up the territory just east of Archer’s. It became clear that the nearby city of Chicago intended to expand their southern border, and by 1921 the entire region (including both Archer’s and Wentworth’s property) had been annexed to the city.
With Garfield Ridge’s new civic status came new settlers. The 1920s brought legions of Poles seeking an alternative to the political unrest of their European homeland. As the population grew, the opening of Chicago Municipal Airport (now named Midway) provided more than enough jobs to go around. The land that previously failed at agriculture had become a central hub of aviation, and Garfield Ridge’s economy flourished until the Great Depression in 1929, when the thriving community screeched to a standstill. This plateau lasted until the post-war years, when people could afford to travel by air again and the city’s airfield became a bustling center for transit once more. Subsequently, Garfield Ridge neighborhood became popular with airport employees who could make their homes close to work. The population skyrocketed and single-family homes popped up all around Midway Airport and the southwest Chicago neighborhood began to thrive again.
While Garfield Ridge residents happily maintained the ever-growing Midway Airport, Chicago city officials were focused on a seldom-used airfield further north. Orchard Field had served for decades in the manufacturing of military planes, but civic leaders saw commercial potential in the site. First introducing passenger flights in 1955, the new airport added an international terminal just three years later. Within the very first year of operation, the airport that would come to be known as O’Hare hosted more travelers than Ellis Island did in its entire lifespan as an immigrant port. Still, it wasn’t until an ambitious expansion in 1962 that Midway employees began to feel like second sons. O’Hare became the busiest airport in the country, Midway became a lot less relevant, and Garfield Ridge residents found themselves at yet another lull.
This stagnant air didn’t begin to stir until the 1990s, when budget airlines prompted passengers to once again consider Midway for journeying to domestic destinations. The city laid rail to form the CTA Orange Line system, which extended from the Loop out to the south side airport. In addition to making Midway an even more attractive alternative for air travel (due to its accessibility via public transportation), the train connected the nearby neighborhood with downtown, making the little community even more desirable to homebuyers.
Today, the aviation business still dominates Garfield Ridge. Many residents work for Midway in some capacity, resulting in a sturdy middle-class neighborhood. The early Polish population is still well-represented, and a wave of new residents from Mexico and other Latin American nations have filtered in to further diversify the area. The tiny commercial district along Archer Avenue is comprised mostly of mid-century modern designs, fulfilling the rudimentary needs of the community with very little fluff. Built around the necessity of travel and a growing industry, this south side Chicago neighborhood is deep-rooted in fundamental duty, with the added bonus of being a lovely place to settle down and raise a family—especially if your little ones have aspirations of becoming pilots upon growing up.
When it comes to the old adage 'work hard, play hard,' we wonder if they weren’t talking about Garfield Ridge. This historically hard-working community has several neighborhood parks to choose from.
Named for John Wentworth, one of the early settlers of the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, Wentworth Park (5625 S Mobile Ave, 312-747-6993) is the neighborhood’s largest park and offers enough recreational activities to please residents of all ages and interests. Located adjacent to an elementary school, Wentworth Park is very youth-friendly and includes an athletic field, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, a playground and an indoor swimming pool. The onsite recreation building offers team sports, day camp and swimming lessons to children of all age groups. Several walking trails wind through the well-landscaped grounds, providing ample space to jog, skate, or stroll.
Built on nine acres in the late 1960s, Minuteman Park (5949 S Central Ave., 773-284-0214) expanded in 1990 with six additional acres. Located adjacent to Midway Airport, this serene space offers baseball fields, tennis courts and several walking trails to area residents, especially those who live on eastern border of the community where the modest parkland stands. Bridging both the Clearing and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods is Valley Forge Park (7001 W 59th St., 773-229-0812). Acquired by the Parks District in 1972, this small area comprises just under eight acres. Original plans called for an extensive array of amenities including shuffleboard and tennis courts, but the development of the park was slow and most of the original plans have not yet been realized. A soccer field crowns the west side of the park, and the promised baseball fields and tennis courts have finally been built, as well as a lovely footpath. A state-of-the-art fieldhouse is under construction, but in the meantime, an array of kid-friendly programs are organized outdoors with some taking place in the double-wide trailer serving as the temporary fieldhouse.
Garfield Ridge Real Estate
Quite young when compared to other Chicago neighborhoods, Garfield Ridge is a charming residential area built right around the compact airfields of Midway Airport. We know what you’re thinking—airport?—who wants planes flying overhead at all hours of the day and night. But compared to the honking horns, blaring sirens and other noise pollution that afflicts the city’s downtown neighborhood, Garfield Ridge residents have got it made!
Historically, inhabitants of this southwest Chicago community have been middle-class families with some employment connection to the aviation industry thriving at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Attractive rows of single-family brick bungalows with well-manicured lawns, wide streets, and a decidedly suburban vibe are the trademark of today’s Garfield Ridge. Most homes were built during the area’s housing boom in the 1940s and ‘50s, many passed down through generations and owned by the same families for most of their existence. The houses in Garfield Ridge have been lovingly maintained, as residents of this Chicago neighborhood are traditionally hardworking folks who value homeownership.
Dwellings in Garfield Ridge tend to include beautifully landscaped grounds, with modest front and back yards, adding to the suburban charm that underscores the neighborhood. The tightly-packed blocks are separated by wide, tree-lined avenues with pedestrian friendly sidewalks set back from the street edges and garages are typically located in the back, accessed through an alley, so you don’t even have to cross driveways when walking about.
The average sales price for a two-bedroom single-family detached home in Garfield Ridge is around $240,000. For a three-bedroom, the average price goes up to $275,000, although there are several places this size in the neighborhood that sell for between $150,000 and $250,000. And if you don’t mind spending a little more, you can get quite a nice property with three bedrooms for about $500,000. There aren’t that many multi-unit residences in Garfield Ridge, but the average price for a two-bedroom condo or attached townhome is around $170,000.
What’s on the Menu?
This family-oriented south Chicago neighborhood is big on comfort fare, as is the Chicago tradition. Just try to go hungry in Garfield Ridge.
When it comes to starting your day, these south siders do it right, with lots and lots of carbs. The first thing locals think about when they wake up in the morning is Weber’s Bakery (7055 W. Archer Ave, 773-586-1234). This traditional neighborhood bakeshop has been around for generations and doles out the finest doughnuts, pastries, cakes and breads imaginable. There’s always a line here, but it’s the only place you’ll ever see people grinning from ear to ear, hopping up and down like children. Weber’s is the stuff memories are made of—and also the stuff that will get you promoted if you make a habit of picking up enough for the entire office. When you don’t have time to wait in line, head to Pticek & Son Bakery (5523 S Narragansett Ave., 773-585-5500). This family-run storefront offers a huge selection of pastries, cookies and doughnuts without the wait.
One of our favorite lunch spots in the area is Peaches and Pears (6435 W Archer Ave., 773-229-9208). This unassuming little diner blends the best of Polish delights with the American staples we’ve come to relish. Whether you want dumplings, mushroom soup, omelets or blintzes, it’s all on the menu and all makes for a delicious midday meal. When it comes to getting our Chicago fast-food fix, we love Portillo’s (5532 S Harlem Ave., 708-458-7000). This Chicago-based chain began in a trailer and eventually grew into one of Chicago’s largest private companies, but we’re just in it for the hot dogs, Italian beef and Polish sausages. The fare here is all about local flavor, and we love that everything tastes the same, every time.
We’ve never understood how Texans can square with holding chili cook-offs in the middle of a heat wave. It seems to us that this savory treat should be consumed in the dead of a Chicago winter—at the very least it keeps us from going into total hibernation. Lindy’s Chili (6544 W Archer Ave., 773-229-1512) serves up steaming bowls of the hot stuff year round, and you can even order it by the bucket to take home and pretend like you’ve made this masterful concoction yourself. Those that do prefer grubbing on chili in the summertime will appreciate that there is an ice cream house attached to Lindy’s.
Speaking of the spicy stuff, no neighborhood’s culinary repertoire is complete without a decent taqueria. Taqueria Los Gallos (6222 S Archer Ave., 773-585-8835) is Garfield Ridge’s go-to destination for countless takes on rice and beans. If you prefer to take your tacos sitting down, Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant (7026 W Archer Ave., 773-586-5405) makes a cozy evening out. And locals with a decadent dining streak and a low tolerance for pretense love Korner Shrimp House (6530 W Archer Ave., 773-229-9744) and Park Rib House (7129 W Archer Ave., 773-586-0081). Whether you’re in the mood for a heaping pile of steamed shrimp or a mile-long rack of ribs, you’ll find that both places serve up fantastic fare in casual environs.
When Garfield Ridge residents feel like a slice or two, they have plenty of pizza options to choose from in the neighborhood, but nothing says Chicago like Home Run Inn Pizza (6221 S Archer Ave., 773-581-9696). The pizzeria got its name after a wayward baseball from a neighborhood game shattered the front window of their original location (on Kildare and 31st Street). This location is the sixth to open, but the pizza stills tastes like the first one made back in 1946. The family recipe is a secret, but we think it’s in the savory sauce. Home Run Inn is a neighborhood favorite for the restaurant’s 'Pizza Feast,' which includes chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, salad, and of course, a famous Home Run Inn pie to share.
Night on the Town
When it comes to Garfield Ridge nightlife, the standard is friendly, casual and as divey as you can get.
Any time you feel like throwing back a pint or two of Guinness, we suggest Fitzgerald’s Pub (5544 W 55th St., 773-767-5544). This neighborhood pub isn’t the kind of Irish joint where fraternity boys take turns chugging Irish car bombs—it’s more subtle, and always welcoming. If you feel like catching the game, head to Solofra’s Sports Bar and Grill (6822 W Archer Ave., 773-229-1886) where you can root root root for the White Sox, down a few cheap beers, and even grab some bar grub during the extra innings.
Best Shopping Stops
Okay, we admit that Garfield Ridge might be prime stomping grounds for a shop-a-holic, but if you’re in the market for home decor, paint supplies, or a glamour evening at the school prom, this Chicago neighborhood is the odd menagerie you’ve been searching for.
The only sensations sweeter than buying a new home is decorating it, and Garfield Ridge has plenty of options to get you started. For choosing basic furnishings, we recommend giving Adam Furniture Co (6815 W Archer Ave., 773-586-1902) a try. Of course, selecting the motif for your digs is a fairly crucial and long-term decision, and we would never suggest making such significant purchases without a little comparison shopping. So head on over to Quality Furniture (6390 S Archer Ave., 773-585-5800), which also has a great collection to pick from. Between the two stores, you’re sure to find just the look for that new house, or spice up the interior design in the old homestead. And, for all of those household necessities, Archer-Austin Hardware & Paint (6146 S Archer Ave., 773-582-8885) will become a weekly trip for any homeowner. The paint selection here is fantastic, so grab some swatches and get to decorating, already!
Garfield Ridge doesn’t have many shopping options beyond home furnishings, unless you’re planning on going to a prom. For some strange reason, the businesses around here seem geared toward fulfilling all of our latent Pretty in Pink fantasies. Peaches Boutique (5915 S Archer Ave., 773-582-0102) carries a stellar selection of dream dresses for that storied high school event that has teenagers scouring the city for the perfect outfit. Sequins, satin, floor-length, mini, if you’ve got that ideal dress in mind and nothing else will do—Peaches is sure to deliver with the latest trends in evening fashions. Pierzynski (6912 W Archer Ave., 773-586-1205) and Payless Shoe Source (5892 S Archer Ave., 773-582-1131) assure that toes are well-covered with just the right pair of heels. And lucky for those young Garfield Ridgers, the nearby salon, Elizabeth’s Boutique (6189 S Archer Ave., 773-284-7600), takes care of hair, nails and make-up for the big night. Even if it’s been years since you’ve primped for prom, Elizabeth’s is a lovely little neighborhood retreat to pamper yourself, whether you’ve got a hot date with the hubby, or just feel like getting pretty. There’s nothing like a mid-week manicure to keep you going to the weekend, we always say!
Getting around the Garfield Ridge neighborhood couldn’t be easier. Whether you prefer driving, public transit, or flying, this south Chicago neighborhood has an option for you.
Residents with their own wheels will love the abundant parking and laid-back traffic in Garfield Ridge. Almost every home has a garage, and street parking is widely available but seldom even used. The Stevenson Expressway (I-55) is just a short drive north and connects the neighborhood to the downtown Loop via an interchange with the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94).
A car isn’t necessary in this Chicago neighborhood, though. Since the hub of Garfield Ridge is Midway Airport, the entire neighborhood can be easily reached by public transportation. The Orange Line "El" runs directly to Midway Airport from the Loop—where it connects passengers to trains heading to all Chicago destinations. (And in case you didn’t know, we call the rapid transit here the El because some of the lines have elevated sections of track that actually run above the street.) Anyway, from the Midway El stop, the #55A, #55N and #63W are all westbound bus lines that connect passengers to other points in the neighborhood. For anyone who prefers to take a bus downtown as opposed to the train, the #62 Archer Avenue bus runs from Garfield Ridge to State and Kinzie—an intersection in the heart of the Loop’s shopping district. We like that bus.
Walking and biking shouldn’t be overlooked when looking for the best way to get around Garfield Ridge. The neighborhood is so well-maintained and tranquil, that a brisk stroll or ride is a treat. We love running our errands on foot, it gives us a chance to ogle the attractive homes, say hello to the neighbors and enjoy the lovely scenery of the area’s greenery-filled parks.
School’s in Session
Families will love the abundance of private and public schools in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood. In addition to the following list, you can find out more info about all Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Byrn Elementary School - 5329 S Oak Park Ave - (773) 535-2170
Charles J Sahs School - 5131 S Linder Ave - (773) 535-2290
John F Kennedy High School - 6325 W 56th St - (773) 535-2325
Kinzie Elementary School - 5625 S Mobile Ave - (773) 535-2425
Saint Daniel Prophets School - 5337 S Natoma Ave - (773) 586-1225
Saint Jane de Chantel School - 5201 S Mcvicker Ave - (773) 767-1130
Twain Elementary School - 5131 S Linder Ave - (773) 535-2290
From blintzes to beer, postage to pastries, you’ll want to know where to go for you daily needs in Garfield Ridge. That’s why we’ve created a neighborhood primer to help you with the ins and outs of your essential errands.
Garfield Ridge Public Library - 6348 S Archer Ave - (312) 747-6094
US Post Office - 5645 S Archer Ave - (773) 767-1917
Archer Pharmacy - 6456 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-1133
Dominick’s Pharmacy - 5829 S Archer Ave - (773) 284-1228
Osco Drug - 6107 S Archer Ave - (773) 735-0396
Walgreens - 7150 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-1299; 6016 W 63rd St - (773) 788-0061
Dominick’s Finer Foods - 5829 S Archer Ave - (773) 284-1228
Egg Store Produce Market - 6190 S Archer Ave - (773) 284-8704
Jewel-Osco - 6107 S Archer Ave - (773) 735-0043
Athletico - 6255 S Archer Ave - (773) 284-6735
Adam Furniture Co - 6815 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-1902
Archer-Austin Hardware & Paint - 6146 S Archer Ave - (773) 582-8885
Elizabeth’s Boutique - 6189 S Archer Ave - (773) 284-7600
Payless Shoe Source - 5892 S Archer Ave - (773) 582-1131
Peaches Boutique - 5915 S Archer Ave - (773) 582-0102
Pierzynski Shoes - 6912 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-1205
Quality Furniture - 6390 S Archer Ave - (773) 585-5800
Harmony Restaurant - 6525 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-0777
Korner Shrimp House - 6530 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-9744
Lindy’s Chili - 6544 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-1512
Park Rib House - 7129 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-0081
Peaches & Pears Restaurant - 6435 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-9208
Portillo’s - 5532 S Harlem Ave - (708) 458-7000
Three Sons Restaurant - 6200 S Archer Ave - (773) 585-2767
Oak Mill Bakery - 5747 S Harlem Ave - (773) 788-9800
Pticek & Son Bakery - 5523 S Narragansett Ave - (773) 585-5500
Racine Bakery - 6216 S Archer Ave - (773) 581-8500
Weber’s Bakery - 7055 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-1234
Dunkin’ Donuts - 6738 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-5969
Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant - 7026 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-5405
Taqueria Los Gallos - 6222 S Archer Ave - (773) 585-8835
Danny’s Pizza Place - 6021 S Archer Ave - (773) 582-3456
Deno’s Pizza - 6233 W 55th St - (773) 585-3995
Domino’s Pizza - 6832 W Archer Ave - (773) 788-1800
Home Run Inn Pizza - 6221 S Archer Ave - (773) 581-9696
Obbie’s Pizza - 6654 W Archer Ave - (773) 586-2828
Tina’s Pizza - 5440 S Narragansett Ave - (773) 586-8767
Triano’s Pizza - 6758 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-1444
Fitzgerald’s Pub - 5544 W 55th St - (773) 767-5544
Patrick’s Tavern - 6296 S Archer Ave - (773) 581-4036
Solofra’s Sports Bar & Grill - 6822 W Archer Ave - (773) 229-1886
Sometimes it makes more sense to view the city of Chicago as a bunch of separate neighborhoods-especially when it comes to real estate. Whether you are in the market for a loft, condo, townhome, or house, it is just as important to inspect the surrounding area as it is to inspect the home’s foundation. Garfield Ridge is just one Chicago community with an abundance of residential properties, and a life all its own. From where you send your kids to school to where you dine at night, the information we provide is an essential piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy that beautiful loft or adorable house in Garfield Ridge.