One half parkland, the other half school and houses, Hanson Park is a lovely little residential neighborhood tucked in between the Belmont Central and Cragin communities that grew out of a single family's farmstead. Nowadays, the center of this small north side Chicago neighborhood is its namesake park which has all the typical park features — baseball diamonds, playground equipment, etc. — however, the pride of the commons is Hanson Stadium. The arena can hold several thousand spectators, but is mainly used by Chicago area schools for sporting events and games. Like many other Chicago neighborhoods, Hanson Park is characterized by long blocks of brick bungalows and frame houses with small front lawns and leafy trees.
Hanson Park Facts
Location: About 8 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Belmont Central, Cragin, North Austin
Boundaries: Fullerton Avenue to the north, Laramie Avenue to the east, Grand Avenue to the south and Central Avenue to the west
Then and Now
In the very early 1800s, farmland was what stood in this blotch of land about eight miles northwest of the up-and-coming Chicago city streets. The road that is now Grand Avenue was once a Native American trail that was converted into a plank road by settlers. In the latter part of the 1830s, a man named George Merrill opened a tavern along the plank road to accommodate the passersby on their way to and from the city. The spot became known as Whiskey Point and remained the only business in the vicinity for a couple of decades.
Once the Cragin Brothers & Company built their factory in this outlying territory in the 1880s, the area got the shot in the arm that it needed and for the first time the northwest land saw serious growth—and we’re not talking about the foliage. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad built a station to transport workers to the new plant, and as more factories opened in the areas surrounding Hanson Park (Belmont Central, Cragin, and North Austin) the expansion sparked a residential boom in the early 1900s. Many bungalows were built from 1900 to 1930 in and around the industrial grounds to accommodate a rapidly growing population of European immigrant workers.
Hanson Park (the actual park) was established along the western half of the neighborhood, on land donated by farmers bearing the Hanson name—the neighborhood then took on the moniker as well. Throughout the 1940s and ‘50s, commercial industry grew in neighboring Belmont Central, adding more dimension to the predominantly industrial and residential surrounding areas.
From the 1970s through the 1990s, the number of Hispanic residents in the northwest side rose significantly, creating a more diverse populace in all the neighborhoods, including Hanson Park. As the century turned, the industry that initiated the birth of Hanson Park and nearby districts barely exists. The once bustling factories have been shuttered and torn down, leaving only a few remnants of the neighborhood’s past livelihood.
These days, Hanson Park sets itself apart with its namesake park, as neighborhood residents benefit from the recreational facilities and city schools frequently utilize the football stadium, which stands tall on Fullerton Avenue. The Hanson family never could have imagined that this is what their farmland would become.
Let the kids burn off some energy in the playground, take in an action-packed football game at the stadium, or just relax and enjoy the refreshing bliss of being outdoors at this 50-acre park.
The neighborhood of Hanson Park got its name from the massive Hanson Park (5501 W Fullerton, 773 534-3344), which rests within its borders. This chunk of land literally takes up the entire western half of the neighborhood. It was once farmland (owned by the Hanson family) until it was donated to the Chicago school district. Hanson is one of the few city parks that is not run by the Chicago Park District, instead it’s officially owned by the school system.
This spacious recreational land has the typical resources you would find in other district parks, such as swings, slides, and baseball diamonds. However, it boasts an important feature that most parks do not have: Hanson Stadium. The stadium is regularly put to good use by Chicago area schools. Showdowns take place year-round in sports like soccer, lacrosse, track and field, and of course, football. The arena has the capability of holding several thousand spectators who can watch clash on the artificial turf. So the tiny, out-of-the-way Hanson Park has its very own Friday Night Lights. Not many neighborhoods can say that.
Hanson Park Real Estate
Houses in the Hanson Park neighborhood are exemplified by two-story frame homes, some with lots that are bounded by cute little fences. Others sport tiny, yet highly cared-for front yards adorned with a few lawn ornaments here and there. For those concerned with finding a parking space for their vehicle, garages are out back behind most of these homes, accessible from a system of alleyways. The classic squat Chicago bungalows make their presence known here as well, with their familiar stone stoops and dormer windows peeking out of the low roofline.
Single-family homes with two bedrooms start fairly low, in the $150,000 range. On the other hand, there are houses that go for about $450,000. These gorgeously designed structures are quite sizable, some having as many as five bedrooms. Their architectural style is similar to that of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School with flat roofs and horizontal lines.
What’s on the Menu?
Given the neighborhood’s residential nature and the fact that half of it is occupied by parkland, there are only a couple of eateries within the boundaries of Hanson Park. Still, there is one favorite among locals that would be popular even if it weren’t the only American cuisine/seafood restaurant around!
People travel a long way to eat the grub from Grand Avenue Shrimp House (5358 W Grand, 773-622-1568). This place is known all over the city for its deliciously seasoned seafood specialties. Fortunately for Hanson Parkers, we’re the only ones who don’t have to trek further than a block or two for the succulently prepared shrimp that makes this neighborhood joint a citywide phenomenon. This place is strictly carryout, unless you choose to sit on the floor and eat, that is. Certainly avoid eating off of the vintage arcade games; those are reserved for customers in wait of their orders. And what orders would there be? Well, shrimp mostly. Deep fried shrimp. Some consider it the best in town. Outside of that, this restaurant offers cod, oysters, frog legs, smelt and other forms of under the sea delicacies—all fried, which may not be good for the cholesterol, but sure is good for the tummy.
For the ever-desirable Mexican food, Hanson Park has a couple of spots that really deliver, El Burrito Amigo (5238 W Grand, 773-637-2188) and Arturo’s Tacos #2 (5245-47 W Fullerton, 773-637-1923). The original Arturo’s on Western and Armitage became very successful and thus spawned the little brother here. Residents from near and far take advantage of the restaurant’s all-night service. Its delicious menu and colorful interior is enough to make Arturo’s #1 very proud.
The Hanson Park neighborhood is roughly four-blocks by four-blocks large, so it’s a quick jaunt on foot from one end to the other. Driving is a snap as traffic is usually light and parking is very much on the available and permit-less side.
To access the highways, residents have two options. Heading south on Central Avenue approximately four miles will get motorists to I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway), which is a direct and quick route to downtown. It also shoots out west and hooks up with other major interstates for out-of-city travel. Heading north on Central approximately four miles will put you right at the entrance to I-90 (Kennedy Expressway), which is the best way to get to O’Hare International Airport by automobile. The highway also leads out to the northwest suburbs and beyond, or in the other direction to the Chicago Loop.
The public transit options are as opportune as one could ask for in Hanson Park. The Milwaukee District West Line of the Metra commuter rail service stops in the neighborhood at Parkside and Armitage avenues. This ultra quick and convenient train transports commuters downtown to work or play, as well as out west as far as Elgin, Illinois. As far as buses go, there are a few CTA routes that accommodate Hanson Park residents, depending on where you want to go. Looking to take a dip in the lake or get sun at the beach? Then take the #73 Armitage Avenue bus, or the #74 Fullerton Avenue bus east straight to the water’s edge. The Fullerton bus also goes to Harlem, where we can transfer and head north to the CTA Blue Line to catch the train to the airport. The bus lines also offer a couple of quick ways to get downtown. For instance, the #65 Grand Avenue bus goes straight into the Loop. Taking the #57 Laramie or the #85 Central bus south takes passengers to a station where they can transfer to the Green Line 'El' train, which heads into the downtown area as well.
School’s in Session
Even in this tiny area there are a few schools in short walking distance of Hanson Park’s residential streets. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Hanson Park schools and Chicago area educational facilities at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Although there’s not much to report, we’ve created a quick reference for residents seeking the 411 on Hanson Park, and want to know just what the neighborhood has to offer.
Farmers Mart – 5259 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 622-4631
Hanson Park – 5501 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 534-3344
Grand Avenue Shrimp House – 5358 W Grand Ave – (773) 622-1568
Arturo’s Tacos #2 – 5245-47 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 637-1923
El Burrito Amigo – 5238 W Grand Ave – (773) 637-2188
Our neighborhoods guide is meant to give potential homebuyers a general overview of what every Chicago neighborhood has to offer and what makes it unique from the rest-and believe us, no two neighborhoods are the same! Searching for a new home isn’t just about finding that prefect condo or house, making sure the setting fits your style and needs is just as important. And whether Hanson Park is your ideal locale to settle down, or you’ve found the scene here just isn’t your cup of tea, we’re here to help you find the right place to make sure your home purchase a is total success. From the type of restaurants to the outdoor venues to the local schools, every detail is an essential factor in what makes a property of dream home. By utilizing our comprehensive accounts of each community, such as this one for Hanson Park, we hope to provide a detailed picture of not only the residential real estate available in the area, but also the additional features of the neighborhood. A quick glance and you’ll know exactly what shopping, dining, entertainment and resources are in Hanson Park, all without ever having to go anywhere.