This small nook near Lincoln Park, flanked by DePaul to the east and the Chicago River to the west, has both young collegiate charm and a family-friendly feel. Lathrop was first put on the map as a warehouse district that later developed into a lovely, tree-lined neighborhood with residential blocks, two popular shopping centers, and a smattering of coffee shops and eateries. Despite its petite acreage, Lathrop managed to squeeze in a couple schools and a Costco, which is always a handy store to have nearby. Due to its close proximity to Lincoln Park neighborhood, Lathrop property values are also up market. Homebuyers will find plenty of million-dollar, three-story townhomes for sale, but there is also a good selection of refurbished condos and loft spaces in the vicinity that are a bit more affordable.
Location: 4 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Lincoln Park, De Paul, Lakeview, West Lakeview, Bucktown
Boundaries: Ashland Avenue to the east, Diversey Avenue to the north, Fullerton Avenue to the south and the Chicago River to the west
Then and Now
From a once reserved area of residential streets blended with warehouses, schools and churches, a booming development of middle class and upscale homes has erupted onto the scene, mixed with vintage public housing and a multitude of chain markets and retail stores in the tiny near northwest side Chicago neighborhood of Lathrop.
Because of its vicinity to the Chicago River, this little community was once a bustling warehouse district stretching into residential blocks to the east of the river. Along Clybourn Avenue, one of the first public housing developments was erected in the 1930s. This first wave of public housing in Chicago was successful compared to the later communities of Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor homes. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) named the project for the social reformer Julia Lathrop, an Illinois-born woman in the camp of fellow Hull House-activists Ellen Gates Starr and Jane Addams. Her many accomplishments included being the first woman member of the Illinois State Board of Charities where she appointed female doctors to state hospitals, removed mentally insane adults from state workhouses, and influenced child welfare reforms such as child labor laws and research on infant mortality-rates.
In more recent years, new construction townhomes, converted warehouses and rehabilitated buildings have created a slew of trendy, desirable living spaces that has led to an increasing number of young adults and couples roaming these beautiful tree-line streets—both with and without baby carriages in tow. Several large grocery stores, such as Dominick’s and Costco provide Lathrop residents with the ultimate in convenience shopping. And with its proximity to DePaul University and the well-known Lincoln Park neighborhood, a spillover of happening nightlife, all-the-rage restaurants and hip retail outlets has also appeared around the premises of this pocketsize Chicago neighborhood.
Finally, being close to transportation is a key factor in a location’s desirability when it comes to buying property. That’s something Lathrop residents already know, as they can immediately hop on the I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) with ease from the neighborhood, making it a cinch to shoot to the Loop for work or to just hang out for a day downtown.
The Lathrop Homes remain intact, though only a portion of the units are occupied. The present residents revel in the safety of the neighborhood and sense of community they get from the diverse population of neighbors. The fate of the two and three-story apartment buildings and rowhouses is under debate between the CHA, who would like to replace the homes with new affordable housing and mid-level condos, and Lathrop Home residents and the Landmarks Preservation Council, who would like to preserve their historical significance.
When the vast stretch of Lincoln Park is your neighbor, and a close one at that, it isn’t too painful that this near northwest neighborhood’s only acquaintance with nature and green space is limited to the individual lawns abutting the homes, the tall leaf-covered trees lining the residential streets, and the random playlot tucked in between the built-up blocks. So if you’re itching for a lot of open ground to run around and give the legs a good stretch, just make the short hike over to the lakeshore for the best waterfront recreational spot in the city. But back closer to home, Lathrop’s Chi Che Wang Playlot Park (1762 W. Diversey Pkwy, 312-742-7785) is one of the many parks and playgrounds that the Chicago Park District has renamed after significant women in local history—a tradition that began in 2004—in this case for a community activist and a scientist.
Lathrop Real Estate
Lathrop neighborhood is a mix of multi-unit buildings and single-family detached homes. The residential areas exist along the eastern edge of the neighborhood, sticking to fairly traditional Chicago neighborhood blocks with shaded, sidewalk-lined streets and back alleys to access garages. A combination of new development and rehabilitated living spaces characterize the real estate market in this desirable near north side neighborhood. And a chunk of land is still designated to the Lathrop Homes public housing, adding to the diversity of Lathrop’s residential properties.
Detached two- and three-story homes with private roof top decks and garden patios are fairly common in Lathrop neighborhood. These homes usually feature fashionable open floorplans and modern amenities with prices ranging from the mid $600,000s to $1.8 million. There’s also a stretch of posh townhouses along Paulina Avenue where homebuyers will find some of the priciest single-family residences in the neighborhood boasting price tags close to $2 million.
The region houses a lot of refurbished condo and loft spaces that provide residents with wide open layouts and contemporary designs. There are many trendy new buildings with very modern 'looks'—sort of urban industry meets luxury living. Folks interested in buying property in Lathrop will find prices for one-bedroom condos in Lathrop start in the low to mid $200,000s (which can include a street parking spot). Two-bedroom units go for prices in the low to mid $300,000s, although you can easily pay $500,000 for a two-bedroom around here. A three-bedroom condo or loft in Lathrop neighborhood will cost between $450,000 and $670,000, and there are some very nice attached townhomes with four bedrooms and two-car garages that will cost somewhere in the $800,000s.
What’s on the Menu?
From independent coffee shops and restaurants to the ubiquitous Starbucks, chances are that if you live in Lathrop neighborhood, you can find the right sip, bite or scoop in your own backyard to satisfy any craving.
When it comes to chilling out, reading the paper and enjoying the flavors and aromas of roasted coffee beans, there is something newly classic about the reliable Starbucks (1700 W. Diversey Pkwy, 773-665-8650) atmosphere. But if you are itching to support the little guys of the coffeehouse world, walk down the street and make Sweet Bean and More (1855 W. Diversey Pkwy, 773-857-3100) your regular spot. This new kid on the block has a stylish sensibility: subtly flashy vinyl wallpaper and a cozy wood bar. Advocate of all things local, Sweet Bean’s bake-goods are locally prepared, as are their beans—from Metropolis, which roasts their beans in the next door DePaul neighborhood. But the house specialty, yogaccino, a yogurt and espresso-blended smoothie of sorts, is imported from Seattle via the manager.
Just as late night dining is becoming a fixture in Chicago’s standard culinary habits, Fixture (2706 N. Ashland, 773-248-3331) is becoming a popular late night dinner spot in Lathrop neighborhood. Brought to you by the same folks that own Meritage in Wicker Park, this long narrow restaurant has the same minimalist decor, only darker. Which is fitting, because you can nosh on steak Oscar and saffron risotto until midnight here, plus the small but sleek bar stays open until 1am. Switch it up a little bit and dive into some great Mexican cuisine at El Presidente (2558 N. Ashland Ave, 773-388-1877). They’re also open late—as in 24 hours. And the traditional fare is outstanding any time of day or night from tacos to enchiladas to crazy-good nachos. This south-of-the-border restaurant is a BYOB, so bring plenty of Coronas—they’ll supply the limes. Speaking of BYOB, opt for Sapporo beer at the corner store and check out the Lincoln Park Noodle House (2428 N. Ashland Ave, 773-248-6680). The ambiance here is colorful, warm and inviting, like a neighbor’s house who can cook tom ka kai like nobody’s business. Finish your meal or perhaps your shopping excursion at Scoops Ice Cream (1730 W. Fullerton Ave, 773-528-5728), situated at the Riverpoint Shopping Center. Baskin Robbins, eat your heart out—this Lathrop neighborhood ice cream parlor offers 36 different flavors, which means it can be difficult to decide—so we recommend coconut or county fair (which is chocolate, vanilla and caramel). Or, if you are the really curious type, just make a trip back to Scoops a few times a week and by the end of the summer you’ll have tried them all—then you can tell us which ones to suggest!
Best Shopping Spots
Whether you need organic fertilizer, golf balls or maternity clothing, Lathrop residents are likely to discover it within a few short blocks of their doorstep. And although most shops are national chains found in mini strip malls, there are a few Chicago-grown surprises in this near northwest side neighborhood.
One of Lathrop’s major shopping districts is called Clybourn Square Plaza, located between Damen and Clybourn avenues at the neighborhood’s northwest corner. The plaza boasts a remarkably large parking lot for Chicago, of course it is always packed with residents and transients popping in to the surrounding stores and food spots like Costo (2746 N Clybourn Ave, 773-360-2054) and Subway (2754 N Clybourn Ave, 773-248-6690). It is also home to one or our favorite places to find just what we’re looking for in beauty supplies, toiletries and salon-quality products: Ulta 3 (2754 N. Clybourn Ave, 773-472-6720). A great site to peruse make-up lines or have an Ulta staff member school you in the art of eyebrow sculpting, you can also just grab some Dove soap or cotton balls and be on your way. Also in Clybourn Square, Golfsmith International (2782 N Clybourn Ave, 773-281-1494) is a specialized store for the golf junky who already has everything and the novice who could benefit from their private golf lessons utilizing high-tech digital analysis of your swing. There is a large selection of products for women, and lefties don’t get left out either as they have left-handed clubs and custom sets available, too.
A stone’s throw away in the Riverpoint Shopping Center, the Motherhood Maternity Outlet (1730 W Fullerton Ave, 773-529-0564) stylishly covers pregnant bellies for prices appropriate for such short-wear garments. They often have sales on top of their outlet prices, and it’s a great stop for a gift card for other mothers-to-be, new moms and any of baby’s firsts. Speaking of fertility, Fertile Gardens (1646 W. Diversey Pkwy, 773-929-9330) is also in the neighborhood. The independently-owned and operated store occupies five city lots with lush foliage, garden tools, potters and containers, seasonal decorations, and nutrient rich soils. Fertile Gardens combines organic with traditional gardening in their product selection, so both the natural gardener and the pesticide-using hardcore bug-killer can find soil and fertilizer to suit their needs. If you happen upon the store when they’re having a sale on house-grown organic tomatoes, you’re in luck because we think they may just be the juiciest tomates this side of the Green City Market in Lincoln Park. Even when not in the mood to buy out the store, a walk among the trees, annual flowers, bird baths and garden Buddha statues is a great way to calm the nerves and commune with nature—and get fresh ideas for your own patio greenery.
Night on the Town
Take a ride on the sports bar express, because this near-DePaul University neighborhood boasts some great satellite TV spectator action, dart throwing and beer drinking.
Located on, well, Ashland, The Ashland (2824 N. Ashland Ave, 773-883-7297) is the official home of the Iowa Hawkeyes—outside of Iowa. Join the regulars at this Lathrop neighborhood watering hole to watch the Hawkeyes along with all things sports on the bar’s many TVs scattered about the main space and in the private party room. The unmistakable smell of fried foods will alert you to the delights of the menu, which includes $1 corn dogs on Thursdays, 50 cent tacos on Wednesdays and $2 hamburgers on Sundays. For an upscale version of the typical college sports pub, The Players Bar & Grill (2500 N. Ashland Ave, 773-477-7769) offers the likes of grilled calamari over fresh spinach and escargot for appetizers and wild mushroom chicken pasta for dinner. The room is vibrantly decked out with exotic flower arrangements, racing memorabilia and a real Ducati racing motorcycle mounted on the wall. Make a night of it during Bears season or racing season (motorcycles, Formula One cars, NASCAR—if it’s a motorsport, Players shows it on their big-screens) by sharing a bucket special with a friend—just $12 for five bottles of Bud, Coors or Miller Lite during games and events.
Locals will tell you, the best neighborhood nightspot in Lathrop for nearly 20 years has been Cody’s (1658 W. Barry, 773-528-4050). Since they don’t have a kitchen, many regulars order a pizza or bring their own food to cook on the grill in the beer garden. And like a good neighbor, Cody’s only takes cash—so hit up the ATM before heading over for a brew. Patrons often like to hang around for a while here, playing darts, corn hole or one of the dusty board games stacked on the well-stocked bar. But if you prefer just having a seat and enjoying a drink, you’ll fit right in with this laid-back crowd, too. Some folks have a penchant for doing rather than watching, so when in Lathrop neighborhood there’s one place to check out: Whirlyball (1880 W. Fullerton Ave, 1-800-8-WHIRLY), where a grown up can be a kid (the actual kids can go down the street to Chuck E. Cheese). The name refers to the activity, which is a sport of sorts that combines bumper cars with basketball and lacrosse—and a lot of laughing. Divide your friends into teams and try to score on each other while swatting at a ball with a lacrosse stick into a net from behind the wheel of a bumper car. Good luck. The cost is a little high ($180-$200 an hour) so invite as many people as you would like to laugh at to offset the cost. If you can manage to pry yourself away from Whirlyball long enough to grab a bite, the bar has a menu with chicken fingers and pizzas as well as beer, naturally.
In addition to Fixture, and the 24-hour El Presidente mentioned earlier for late-night meals or noshing, you may want to opt for a rowdier, yet sleek cocktail for an evening-ending nightcap. If that’s the case collect your crew, or your date, and head over to Clybar (2417 N. Clybourn Ave, 773-388-1877), a hip neighborhood hangout that draws a good crowd on weekends with a front bar, back lounge and sidewalk cafe in the warm weather months. Whether we are drinking plain old beer or fancy pants martinis, we always feel comfortable here. The long wood bar is upscale with deep red tones lit by candles but the vibe is down-to-earth and cozy. And the best part is, you can stay until 3am on Saturdays.
Mark Your Calendar
Most of the happenings in this Chicago neighborhood revolve around sports, drinking and more sports and drinking, so get your calendars out—and you might want to keep a light schedule for recovery time the day afterward, too.
Our personal favorite is the Air Show Party at The Players Bar & Grill (2500 N. Ashland Ave, 773-477-7769). On the Saturday following the Air and Water Show down by the lake, around the third weekend of August, the pilots deplane and head over to Players to party with locals—there’s something very Top Gun about the scene, like you expect to see Maverick joking around with the guys at the next table over. And while there, maybe you can get an autograph from a Thunderbird, Rapture or a Golden Night, some of the best pilots and parachuters in the country.
Another good time in August for Lathrop neighborhood locals is the Annual Hawaiian Party at Augie’s Booze & Schmooze (1721 Wrightwood Ave, 773-296-0018), held on the first Saturday of the month. The bar hosts a complimentary buffet early in the evening, bean bags (corn hole) goes all night and the event gives us all a good excuse to dust off our Hawaiian shirts, throw an umbrella in our drink and hula dance if the spirit moves us. After a tall Malibu and pineapple juice or two, you might feel like shaking your grass skirt.
You will see many intrepid residents strolling, walking with children, jogging and biking around Lathrop, but when it comes to getting to destinations outside the neighborhood borders, alternative means of transit will most likely be necessary.
Residents can purchase a pass for Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses, the subway and elevated train system (also called the 'El') online or at any El station. Since the nearest El stops are about 10 blocks east of Lathrop’s eastern edge, at Diversey Parkway and Sheffield Avenue or Fullerton Avenue and Sheffield, buses are the best bet for traveling about the city. The #76 Diversey Parkway bus takes passengers straight over to the Brown Line El, where you can hop on the train for a quick ride into the Loop. Also running east/west is the #74 Fullerton Avenue bus route. Heading north/south are the #50 Damen Avenue bus, the #9 Ashland Avenue line (which has owl service every 15 minutes all night long), and the #9 Ashland Avenue Express, which skips certain stops for quicker commutes.
If you’re going the motor vehicle route, parking on the street requires some reading of signs that may necessitate residential zone stickers for overnight parking, not to mention the random street cleaning days and restrictions for snow removal from November through April. Ticketing and towing is highly enforced, as every Chicagoan knows from personal experience. So obey the rules and you’ll avoid some hefty fines and inconveniences. The good news for car owners is that the I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) is just across the river from Lathrop neighborhood and is easily accessed from Fullerton Avenue. This highway heads southeast directly to downtown or in the other direction to Chicago’s northern suburbs, and passes by O’Hare International Airport, in case you’ve got a plane to catch.
School’s in Session
In this rather small Chicago community, Lathrop residents still find there are excellent local schools for the kids to attend, and with DePaul University as a neighbor there’s plenty of collegiate influence to go around. For more information on programs, tours and enrollment guidelines on these and other Chicago area schools, visit our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Cardinal Bernadin Early Childhood Center 1651 W. Diversey Pkwy - (773) 975-6330
Prescott Elementary School 1632 W Wrightwood Ave - (773) 534-5505
Whether you need razors and shaving cream, beer and bratwursts for a cook-out, or a scoop of ice cream on your way to pick up bigger maternity clothes, you will happily find it nearby. And just so you’re not running around aimlessly for all you daily necessities, we’ve compiled a convenient list of Lathrop neighborhood’s essential stops.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
Aldi - 2600 N Clybourn Ave
Costco Warehouse 2746 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 360-2054
Dominick’s Finer Foods 2550 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 935-5777
Dominick’s Pharmacy 2550 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 935-5777
1730 Outlet Company 1730 West Wrightwood Avenue - (773) 871-4331
Ametric Supply Co. 2461 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 871-4450
Avenue 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 472-9061
Casual Male Big & Tall 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 281-3369
Famous Footwear 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 528-0077
Fertile Gardens 1646 W. Diversey Pkwy - (773) 929-9330
Golfsmith International 2782 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 281-1494
Mandee 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 755-7502
Menards 2601 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 202-7620
Motherhood Maternity Outlet 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 529-0564
Old Navy 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 871-0601
Spirit Halloween Superstore 1830 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 348-7534
Ulta 3 2754 N. Clybourn Ave - (773) 472-6720
Zales the Diamond Store 2754 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 244-0035
Fixture 2706 N Ashland Ave - (773) 248-3331
Leon’s Famous Ribs 2418 N Ashland Ave - (773) 975-7427
Anne’s Mandarin 1550 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 348-0890
Emperor Wok 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 388-8800
L incoln Park Noodle House 2428 N Ashland Ave - (773) 248-6680
Sweet Bean and More 1855 W. Diversey Pkwy - (773) 857-3100
Starbucks (Dominick’s) 2550 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 935-5777; 2454 Ashland Ave - (773) 549-4482
Taco Bell 2575 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 281-5063
Subway 2754 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 248-6690
Scoop’s Ice Cream 1730 W Fullerton Ave - (773) 528-5728
El Presidente Restaurant 2558 N Ashland Ave - (773) 525-7938
Augie’s Booze & Schmooze 1721 W Wrightwood Ave - (773) 296-0018
Clybar 2417 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 388-1877
Cody’s 1658 W. Barry - (773) 528-4050
Cozmo’s 2508 N Clybourn Ave - (773) 404-7414
Four Shadows 2758 N Ashland Ave - (773) 248-9160
The Ashland 2824 N. Ashland Ave - (773) 883-7297
The Players Bar & Grill 2500 N Ashland Ave - (773) 477-7769
Whirlyball 1880 W. Fullerton Ave (1-800) WHIRLY
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. Lathrop 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 Lathrop.