Lakewood-Balmoral is east of Andersonville and west of the much larger Edgewater neighborhood. With easy access to the beaches and parks along the lakefront, as well as nearby Loyola University, it is a vibrant neighborhood that includes part of the Bryn Mawr Historic District. Lakewood-Balmoral also has the distinction of being recognized by the Chicago Landmark Commission for its architecturally significant homes. The neighborhood is a comfortable mix of students, single working adults and families. Lakewood-Balmoral has a sizeable dining district with comfy coffee houses and a romantic French restaurant. The shopping options are a combination of outside-the-mainstream, independent stores and well-known national retailers.
Location: Approximately seven miles north of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Andersonville, Edgewater, Uptown, Ravenswood
Boundaries: Bryn Mawr Avenue to the north, Broadway Street to the east, Foster Avenue to the south and Glenwood Avenue to the west.
Then and Now
A tobacco salesman from Philadelphia named John Cochran visited the Edgewater community in the 19th century and envisioned it as becoming one of the finest suburbs north of Chicago. In 1885 he bought 200 acres of land in what was Lake View Township, and proceeded to divide the land into sections for development. Lakewood-Balmoral, then known as Cochran’s Third Addition to Edgewater, was the last of those sections.
Cochran may have been somewhat too successful in his ambitions because Chicago annexed all of Lake View Township in 1889 under the stress of public service demands by a growing population. Undaunted, Cochran continued to work at building the area into one of the most prestigious enclaves in the city. In 1899, he published A Home by the Lake, a booklet describing the benefits of owning a home in the area. It also functioned as a sort of catalog for potential buyers to view the housing available including, as it said, 'some of the best examples of English Gothic, Colonial, Flemish, Classic Colonial, Queen Anne and French Renaissance of the Transition period.'
Around 1893, the first homes to be built were scattered up and down the eight blocks of Lakewood and Magnolia avenues between Foster and Bryn Mawr avenues. West of the Third Addition, construction continued at a slower pace. At this time there were just a few shops and only one grocery store on Bryn Mawr Avenue. What is now Broadway was not originally planned for commercial development, instead an ice plant, stables and coal yards were built along the railroad tracks.
Following World War II, the once affluent Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood (as well as most of Edgewater) experienced economic decline. Many beautiful older homes were subdivided into smaller units to accommodate the ballooning population in the 1970s, diminishing the lofty status of the neighborhood. The Edgewater Community Council was eventually organized to examine some of the issues the community faced due to this change, and over the next decade the council oversaw many improvements including increased policing and better zoning laws that led to more reasonable development.
In the 1990s, the National Register of Historic Places designated Bryn Mawr Avenue from Sheridan to Broadway as the Bryn Mawr Historic District. This section of Bryn Mawr defines the northern boundary of Lakewood-Balmoral and was designated historic for many of its architectural gems, and also because it was Edgewater’s town center.
Today, the neighborhood embraces its historic significance, as residents have endeavored to restore their homes to the way they might have looked in the 1920s and â€˜30s and old-fashioned lamp posts light the quaint streets. Additionally, Lakewood-Balmoral plans to increase commercial development and bring more shops and restaurants to the neighborhood, and the current alderman is attempting to increase the number of parks in the ward in addition to improving the area’s existing recreational areas.
Speaking of parks, the playlot at Bromann Park (Broadway Street and Balmoral Avenue) was built in 1971 to meet the growing community’s recreational needs. The park is named for life-long Edgewater resident Charles H. Bromann who dedicated much of his life to solving community problems and planning for the neighborhood’s future. The Bromann Park Advisory Council is in the middle of restoring and upgrading the vicinity (also known as 'Giraffe Park' due to the large mural of giraffes on the building just north of the playlot) with a new soft surface, slides, swings and climbing equipment. It also has improved access for the disabled.
Lakewood Balmoral Real Estate
Lakewood-Balmoral is the quiet neighbor of bustling Edgewater, which has the highest population density of any Chicago neighborhood. Composed primarily of single-family condominiums, brick two-and three-flats, courtyard apartment buildings and vintage homes, it is a historic area with charm and convenient access to the lakefront and shopping on North Broadway.
At the turn of the century, the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood drew some of the wealthiest Chicago families, including the Krafts, to build homes here. Influential architects like Neils Buck, Ivar Viehe-Naess, Holabird and Roche, and John Lewis Cochran designed homes in various styles during the era from approximately 1885 to 1905 that preceded Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style movement. Today, Lakewood-Balmoral’s streets reveal the same amazing architecture residents would have seen a century ago.
The Chicago Landmark Commission has designated several homes in the neighborhood as historic landmarks. On a short stroll under the leafy ash trees on Lakewood Avenue you will find fine examples of Eclectic, Classical, Queen Anne and Revival detailing. And many street intersections have quaint traffic circles that have been landscaped with small trees and colorful flowers.
Condominium conversions have grown in popularity over the last several years. Generally, the average sales price for a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium in Lakewood-Balmoral is $210,000 and the average price for a detached single-family home with two of three bedrooms is around $720,000. Several of the historic homes in the area have sold for over $1 million.
What’s on the Menu?
North Broadway is alive with flavors and spices from around the world. The diversity on the menu is only a small reflection in the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood.
Named for the French region known for its bold, full-flavored wines, Cotes du Rhone (5424 N. Broadway St., 773-293-2683) is a small taste of provincial France on North Broadway. The dark, cozy restaurant specializes in meat and seafood expertly sauced and prepared with great care by chef Brian Moulton. It’s our favorite escape on a rainy day, and also perfect for a rendezvous with your amis. Try the pan-seared pork tenderloin with slices of Granny Smith apple or the scallops with citrus brown butter. Bon appetit!
Beatrice and Herbert Delgado set out to create a home away from home when they opened La Fonda Latino Grille (5350 N. Broadway St., 773-271-3935) several years ago. Inside, the exposed brick walls and colorful decorations are as inviting as the food. The Colombian couple prepares dishes like spinach and mushroom empanadas and delicate arepas (white corn cakes). If you’re particularly daring, try the morcilla (blood pudding) with guajillo chili sauce. In a nod to customers looking for more traditional fare, several Mexican items are also available at La Fonda.
Mei Shung (5511 N. Broadway St., 773-728-5778) also has traditional and exotic menu items. This solid Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood fixture serves delicious Mandarin and Taiwanese dishes at reasonable prices. The Mandarin half of the menu includes some staples like moo shu pork, deep-fried crispy duck, and shrimp with pea pods and water chestnuts. But if you feel like taking a walk on the wild side, try some of the Taiwanese dishes. Salted jellyfish anyone? How about stir-fried squid or clams baked with sweet basil? If you aren’t in the mood for an adventure there is also a nice variety of noodle dishes. The service is friendly if not always speedy.
Despite its shabby interior, locals will argue that Hella’s Gyros (1133 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-728-3950) near the Bryn Mawr Red Line 'El' stop makes the best gyros in the city. Don’t let the interior scare you off. It has been around for 30 years, and unfortunately kind of looks like it, but the gyros are hand-made and Gus, the owner, will give you a rundown on anything happening around town from just outside his door to the steps of City Hall. Just a few doors down on the same side of the street you’ll find Ben’s Noodles (1139 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-907-8936). This is a great take-out joint for Thai noodles as well as fried rice (the house specialty), several kinds of curries, or ginger chicken. If you plan on dining in, they have a lunch special for $5.95 that includes an entree, soup and an appetizer. Take it from us, the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for just eight bucks is more than worth the price of admission.
If you’re like us, you are often looking for a good place to satisfy your morning java fix. Then step inside the independent Coffee Chicago (5256 N. Broadway St., 773-784-1305) and you’ll discover more than just a great cup of joe. In addition to coffee, tea and espresso drinks, the menu provides great lunch options, including soup, calzones, tacos and, our secret favorite, a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Don’t forget to check out their surprisingly good ice cream, too, which you can get in a cup, cone, float or shake. In the summer it’s a great place to lounge outside at one of the sidewalk tables and year-round the cafe hosts an open mic singing night on Fridays at 8 pm.
Best Shopping Stops
Lakewood-Balmoral has several unique places where you can pick up anything from a best-seller to a bundle of bok choy.
When we’re in the market for a hard-to-find, out-of-print book, Kate the Greats Books (5550 N. Broadway St., 773-561-1932) is the place we go to. The helpful staff is eager to accommodate your search, particularly if the book you seek is outside the mainstream. The bookstore also has a good children’s section that your little ones will love. Kate’s also hosts readings by local and national authors and poets, and holds literary events and meetings for various writing and theater groups.
After you move in, it’s time to decorate, right? And Pier 1 (5304 N. Broadway St., 773-271-7078) is always a good place to start. A trip to this furnishing store with a flair for the exotic will help turn those bare walls into attractive focal points. The Lakewood-Balmoral site is known for its frequent sales, and often has seasonal merchandise leftover from other Pier 1 locations. This store may look smallish but it has a good selection of the requisite candles, vases, dishware, rugs and decorative accents.
If you love preparing Thai, Japanese, Chinese or Korean dishes—or just want to give Asian-flavor cooking a whirl—check out Golden Pacific – Asian Grocery (5353 N. Broadway St., 773-334-6688). This bright, clean market specializes in difficult-to-get items such as tamarind, kaffir limes, bamboo shoots, curry paste, Japanese snacks and other Asian delights. The shelves are well stocked but the merchandise is not always intuitively displayed. Just know that odds are, if you need it, they’ll have it; you just may need to ask for assistance to track down that missing ingredient.
Mark Your Calendar
If you like turning someone else’s trash into your treasure, you’ll love Lakewood-Balmoral’s Colossal Neighborhood Garage Sale (first weekend after Labor Day). The huge rummage sale generally includes more than 200 households. Balloons and streamers mark the locations of participating homes, which sell their wares in garages or back, side or front yards. For your shopping convenience, maps that point out these houses are available in the weeks leading up to the sale.
Enjoy the beauty of your neighbor’s gardens along with the architectural style of their homes on the Lakewood-Balmoral Residents Council (LBRC) Block Organization Garden Walk (second weekend in July). Residents go all out, bringing their homes to life with flower baskets and boxes, as well as surprisingly bountiful vegetable gardens. Some gardeners even offer cool drinks or wine. Don’t miss this opportunity to relax in a secluded oasis where it seems like the busy city streets are miles away.
When you’re tooling about the neighborhood, don’t worry about using your 'parking mojo' to find a spot—Lakewood-Balmoral has loads of metered street parking on Broadway, and even on the weekends it’s not too difficult to get a spot. Many of the strip malls along Broadway also have free parking for customers.
By car, the neighborhood is accessible from Lake Shore Drive, just exit at Foster Avenue and head west a few blocks. This lakeside highway is most residents’ preferred route for getting to and from downtown, as Lake Shore Drive is fairly fast-moving and provides spectacular scenery and city views as you cruise along.
Several CTA bus lines serve the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood. Take the #92 to travel eastbound on Foster Avenue to Marine Drive or westbound out to Jefferson Park. Over on Broadway, the #36 running northbound will take you to Rogers Park and southbound via Clark Street all the way to Lincoln Park and on to downtown. On Bryn Mawr Avenue, the #84 running eastbound will take you to the other side of Sheridan Road and westbound as far as Edgebrook via Ridge Road and Peterson Avenue.
The CTA Red Line train south to downtown or north to Evanston has 'El' stops (so-named for the sections of elevated track) at Berwyn Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue. Both stops are one block east of Broadway. If you need to catch the Metra (Chicago’s commuter rail line servicing the suburbs), the train stops at Lawrence and Ravenswood, which is accessible via CTA bus by taking the #36 southbound to Lawrence Avenue and transferring to the westbound #81 over to Ravenswood Avenue.
School’s in Session
Although there is only one school within the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood boundaries, surrounding communities have a number of additional educational facilities to suit your children’s scholastic needs. You can find more information on Chicago area schools on our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Northside Catholic Academy 5525 N. Magnolia 773-271-2008
This north side neighborhood may be small, but we managed to dig up a good list of places where residents can get those everyday necessities and services in Lakewood-Balmoral, from toilet paper and diapers to eggs and milk, emergency treatment to 'El' transportation.
Public Library Branch (Edgewater) 1210 W. Elmdale Ave. – (312) 744-0718
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Post Office (Uptown) 4850 N. Broadway St.
CVS 6150 N. Broadway St. 773-274-9337
Hospital Emergency Room
Weiss Memorial Hospital 4646 North Marine Drive 773-878-8700
Jewel 5343 N. Broadway St. 773-784-1922
Golden Pacific – Asian Grocery – 5353 N. Broadway St. 773-334-6688
Cheetah Gym 5838 N. Broadway St. 773-728-6600
Below are a few of the dining, shopping and entertainment activities that Lakewood-Balmoral has in store. Be sure to discover the other available amenities as you explore the neighborhood on your own.
Colossal Neighborhood Garage Sale (first weekend after Labor Day)
Lakewood-Balmoral Residents Council (LBRC) Garden Walk (second weekend in July)
LBRC Yard Sale (second weekend in September)
LBRC Harvest Moon Festival (third weekend in October)
Payless Shoe Source 6125 N. Broadway St. 773-465-1103
Kate the Greats Books 5550 N. Broadway St. 773-561-1932
Pier 1 5304 N. Broadway St 773-271-7078
Murray’s Auto Parts 5227 N. Broadway St. 773-784-9930
GNC 1123 W. Berwyn Ave. 773-271-5296
EQ 1118 W. Berwyn Ave. 773-506-0723
Aroma Pizza 1125 W. Berwyn Ave. 773-769-4900
Cotes du Rhone 5424 N. Broadway St. 773-293-2683
La Fonda Latino Grille 5350 N. Broadway St. 773-271-3935
El Norte Taqueria 5600 N. Ridge Ave. 773-728-0182
Mei Shung 5511 N. Broadway St. 773-728-5778
Noodle Zone 5427 N Clark St 773-293-1089
Ben’s Noodles 1139 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. 773-907-8936
Coffee Chicago 5256 N. Broadway St.773-784-1305
Blue Sea Grill & Coffee 1121 W. Berwyn Ave. 773-728-4076
Hella’s Gyros 1133 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. 773-728-3950
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Lakewood-Balmoral offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Lakewood-Balmoral 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 Lakewood-Balmoral 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.