A small, quiet community of single-family homes and Prairie-style bungalows, this hidden south side gem offers families stability, comfort and affordability. Kennedy Park is often grouped in with its big sister neighborhoods (Beverly and Morgan Park). This has actually been a good thing as Kennedy Park has benefited from the communities' organized planning initiatives and historic preservation programs. Not to mention Kennedy Park is right along the famous South Side Irish Parade path that celebrates St. Patrick's Day in true Chicago style. The rest of the year the neighborhood is pretty calm. A traditional Irish pub and a one-of-a-kind antique dealer/barber shop are all the excitement this peaceful residential locale needs.
Kennedy Park Facts
Location: About 13 miles southwest of the Loop
Boundaries: Western Avenue to the east, 111th Street to the north, 115th Street to the south and California Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Kennedy Park is a small Chicago neighborhood, originally part of the greater Morgan Park area which originated in 1869 when the Blue Island Land and Building Company purchased the property from a family that owned much of the land in the vicinity. It was the intention of the developers to turn the area into a residential and commercial district and to create a viable, self-sufficient community south of the busy city center of Chicago.
In addition to developing much of the land, the company also donated some of its property for use as the Mount Vernon Military Academy (now Morgan Park Academy) and even convinced the Baptist Theological Union to relocate to the area as well. Morgan Park was on the rise. In 1882, Morgan Park was incorporated, and although the residents of the town resisted the union, the promise of better schools and policing tipped the scales in favor of annexation. Morgan Park (including the area that would one day be Kennedy Park) was officially made a part of the city of Chicago in 1914.
Eventually, Kennedy Park became its own neighborhood, taking its title from the park that occupies the center of the tiny, eight-square-block community. Before we did our homework, we assumed the neighborhood and the park were named for JFK, but it turns out the park was actually christened in honor of Calumet Park commission member DJ Kennedy in 1932, and the community subsequently took on the title later on. You learn something new every day. Thanks to the Beverly Area Planning Association and their annual home tour of the greater Beverly and Morgan Park areas (which includes Kennedy Park), the community has been able to promote housing development as well as the historic preservation of the neighborhood’s distinctive Prairie-style architecture. The non-profit organization is a grassroots group of businesses and civic groups that has been working for the betterment of the Beverly/Morgan Park/Kennedy Park area for the past 60 years. And from what we’ve seen, they’ve done a phenomenal job. Today Kennedy Park is an established, integrated neighborhood with its namesake scenic park and reasonably priced housing that play home to a diverse group of Chicago families.
The neighborhood’s 18-acre namesake park, Kennedy Park (11320 S Western Ave, 312-747-6198), was partially built on the site of a dump. Lovely, right? This was in 1912, though, so don’t worry about any negative effects. Anyway, by the 1920s, the park (which was known as Western Avenue Park at the time) had not improved much from its original occupation as an automobile graveyard. That is until the 1920s, when the Morgan Park Woman’s Club stepped in and created a bird sanctuary and wild flower preserve. During the 1930s the park was further improved with the help of the Unemployed Relief Service, who were tasked with the removal of debris and remaining auto parts leftover from Kennedy Park’s days as a dump. The workers also landscaped the area and planted numerous trees and lush ground cover—the finishing touches on a park that would be the center of outdoor recreation for Kennedy Park residents for years to come. A fieldhouse was also constructed on the premises, although it had to be rebuilt in the 1960s. Kennedy Park cover about a fifth of the neighborhood’s land, so it is definitely a prominent destination for outdoor recreation and relaxation, and it attracts residents of all ages to its wide open green spaces and variety of activities. There are tennis courts and baseball diamonds, and an outdoor swimming pool for the aquatic-minded. Meeting and assembly rooms are available in the fieldhouse and organized outdoor summer activities include softball league play, baseball and soccer camps and even a water polo camp is offered. If you enjoy more non-aerobic exercise, Kennedy Park is also a great place to spread out a blanket and soak up some rays or have a picnic under a shady tree, just don’t invite the ants.
Kennedy Park Real EstateThe residential areas of Kennedy Park neighborhood are fairly serene and peaceful with many tall pines and smaller leafy trees providing shade for the quiet side streets. Housing stock varies in Kennedy Park with traditional two-story frame homes, which can include front porches that run the width of the house, and a wealth of one-story brick ranches and 1960s-style split levels.
The neighborhood does feature some larger two-story brick houses with back-alley garages and a number of the yards are nicely landscaped with beautiful flowerbeds lining the walkways. Many of the properties in this southwest side Chicago neighborhood do not have fences, supporting the existence of a safe environment for children to play out on the green grass lawns.
Generally, the average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family detached home in Kennedy Park is around $250,000. A select few sell for between $300,000 and $400,000. Houses with more space (and more bedrooms) bump the average sales price up to $327,000. Attached housing is much less common in this Chicago neighborhood, but there are some condos and townhomes available. Prices start in the low $100,000s and go up to the low $300,000s.
What’s on the Menu?
Kennedy Park may be a small neighborhood, but there are still a couple of places where we can get our caffeine fix and a quick bite.
When we’re jonesin’ for our morning cup of joe, we head to the Beverly Bean Company (2734 W 111th St, 773-239-6688) where they offer a daily choice of six different coffees in addition to a variety of pastries, muffins and bagels. The menu also features a limited selection of sandwiches, which we usually get to go. The tiny cafe does have six tables, so if you’re lucky enough to get a seat, the intimate atmosphere is a really pleasant place to sip your morning latte or have a relaxing lunch break. Waldo Cooney’s (2406 W 111th St, 773-434-0313) is a small family-owned pizza chain with six Chicagoland restaurants. For the past fifteen years Kennedy Park residents have been enjoying this 111th Street location. Waldo is best known for their thin crust, but you can get it Chicago-style along with the usual suspects of sandwiches (Italian beef and meatball) and appetizers (cheese sticks and breaded mushrooms) as well as pasta, chicken and seafood entrees. This is a great place to take the hungry family or go with the team after a softball game and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
Best Shopping Stops
Kennedy Park’s shopping scene is a far cry from that of oh, say, Michigan Avenue … however, there is a unique little shop that you’d be hard pressed to find along the busy storefronts of the Magnificent Mile. The name says it all—Russell Antiques and Barber Shop (2404 W 111th St 773-233-3205) is probably the only place in Chicago where you can get a shave and a haircut, and do a little antiquing in between snips. This Kennedy Park store is home to hundreds of miscellaneous antiquated knickknacks, from buttons and badges to bumper stickers and key chains. And if you’re getting a little shaggy up top, just have a seat in one of the three barber chairs (antique of course) and get a trim while you’re here. Talk about one-stop shopping!
Night on the Town
If you want to have a good time without leaving the comfort of your own neighborhood, we’ve scouted out just the place where Kennedy Park residents like to go to let the good times roll. No matter what night of the week it is, you can usually expect a crowd at McNally’s (11136 S Western Ave, 773-779-6202). This neighborhood joint typically boasts a lively clientele, who like to chat up the night—whether the talk is of sports (White Sox) or local politics (His Honor Mayor Daley). All that talking is bound to make a few throats dry—good thing McNally’s is stocked with the standard domestic beer choices. Darts are a popular pub pastime and a favorite of McNally’s regulars. This unassuming Kenney Park watering hole also draws both the victors and the losers of various local sporting leagues (some of which are sponsored by the bar) who come to rejoice, or commiserate, after the game.
Mark Your CalendarCome on out and show your Irish side at the South Side Irish Parade (773-393-8687). This celebration of all things Irish and green is an annual tradition held every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. Started in the 1950s in the Gresham neighborhood just north of Beverly, the first mayor Daley brought the event downtown in 1955 where it enjoyed a higher profile. Not to be outdone, the south side reclaimed a smaller version of their parade in 1979 and it has grown ever since. Known to south siders as the real St. Patrick’s Day parade, the current route flows like a tipsy river of green down Western Avenue from 103rd in Beverly to 115th St in Kennedy Park.
Getting AroundBecause of its small size, walking and bike riding in Kennedy is an enjoyable experience that takes no time at all. We also like to stroll along the premises of Mt. Olivet Cemetery (on California Avenue). Peacefully quiet and picturesque, it’s a nice route to get across the neighborhood. But if the thought of a graveyard freaks you out, cutting through the shady side streets is also a quick way to get about Kennedy Park.
Most likely, you’ll have reason to venture out of the neighborhood from time to time, that’s when Chicago’s public transportation system comes in handy. The #112 Vincennes-111th Street bus runs through Kennedy Park. Hop on for a quick trip east to the Rock Island Metra stop where you can catch a train north to the Loop.
If you have your own vehicle, it may be simpler to drive to your destination—although we can’t guarantee the parking will be easy once you get there. That said, the Interstate-57 is just east of Kennedy Park, so it’s a cinch to shoot over and get on the expressway, which will take you north to I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) and directly to Chicago’s downtown Loop.
School’s in Session
Families with school-aged children will need to send their young scholars a little further than the neighborhood borders for class. Surrounding areas have plenty of options, though, just check out our Chicago Guide Schools page for more information on Chicago area schools.
Vick Early Childhood and Family Center - 2554 W 113th St - (773) 535-2671
Basic NeedsWhether you’re looking for antiques and a haircut or just craving a great pizza, Kennedy Park has more to cater to residents’ needs than its relatively small size would suggest.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
Kennedy Park - 11320 S Western Ave - (312) 747-6198
Russell Antiques and Barber Shop - 2404 W 111th St - (773) 233-3205
Waldo Cooney’s - 2406 W 111th St - (773) 434-0313
McNally’s - 11136 S Western Ave - (773) 779-6202
Burrito Station- 2750 W 111th St - (773) 881-8479
Beverly Bean Company - 2734 W 111th St - (773) 239-6688
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. Kennedy Park neighborhood 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 Kennedy Park.