Generations of Chicagoans have grown up and raised their families in this comfy and traditional, yet diverse south side Chicago community that is centered about an extraordinary 300-acre park of the same name. Marquette Park is a large neighborhood with all the services and advantages of a mini-city. The park itself is no regular green grass playground — it features a full golf course and driving range, surrounded by a system of scenic lagoons and a two-and-a-quarter-mile walking/jogging trail. Residences in Marquette Park are mainly brick bungalows and other single-family homes. As is customary in the southern reaches of Chicago, the lots are tightly-packed with rear garages and enough backyard for barbecuing and letting the kids play outside. And because there is such a large number of families that live in Marquette Park, several elementary and high schools have been established in the area. Solid restaurant and retail business exists along the neighborhood's main border streets, where residents go to shop for groceries, see a movie and grab a bite.
Marquette Park Facts
Location: 10 miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Ashburn, Chicago Lawn, West Englewood, Westlawn, Wrightwood
Boundaries: 63rd Street on the north, 75th Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east and Central Park Avenue on the west
Then and Now
Back in the 1870s, Marquette Park was just a partly cultivated prairie known as Marquette Manor, situated on the outskirts of a sleepy little town named Chicago Lawn. Even after the area was absorbed by Chicago in 1889, it remained a sparsely populated farming community until well after the turn of the century. But central Chicago was growing rapidly, and many community organizers foresaw the inevitable development of the area.
In 1903, the Olmsted Brothers, renowned landscape architects who had designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the White House, turned their attention to Chicago’s South side. There they conceived a system of public parks to serve as 'breathing spaces' for the burgeoning metropolis. The crown jewel of their plan was the transformation of a 300-acre parcel of the former Chicago Lawn into a landscaped gem to be called Marquette Park. Elements of their ambitious design were added gradually over the next fifteen years—a field house, a lagoon, a golf course, and close to 90,000 trees and shrubs—until at last they had created an exceptional urban playground. All it required was an urban population around it to fulfill its mission.
The park didn’t have to wait long. In the 1920s, German and Irish immigrants began streaming into Marquette Park from the increasingly crowded neighborhoods to the north and east. On the heels of these groups was an even greater host of Polish and Lithuanian families, an influx that came to define the area’s character for decades. Needless to say, Marquette Park was no longer farm country, but luckily its namesake park had been established in time to preserve a piece of the prairie for future generations to enjoy the same natural beauty as their ancestors.
By 1930, Marquette Park’s population had more than tripled. Strolling down 68th Street, you’d be far more likely to overhear snatches of Polish or Lithuanian than English. Where prairie grasses once rippled in the wind the imposing Holy Cross Hospital now stood, dedicated to St. Casimir, the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. Nearby, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church at 69th Street and Washtenaw Avenue looked as if it had been magically transported from a cobble-stoned corner back in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital city.
Services at the church were held in Lithuanian, of course, and they still are. But the East European flavor of the neighborhood is now found only within a block or two of the church, a stretch of 69th Street officially dubbed Lithuanian Plaza. The rest of the neighborhood gradually changed as all growing cities do with the arrival of new ethnic groups. Still, from the 1920s through the 1950s, Marquette Park was 'Little Lithuania.'
The Depression era saw minimal population and commercial growth in the area, but the postwar boom brought the construction of a huge factory for the National Biscuit Company (that’s Nabisco to you). At the time it was the world’s largest bakery, and it’s still in operation today at twice its original size. For years, folks associated Marquette Park with a great golf course, a gorgeous lagoon—and an occasional, tantalizing whiff of Oreos!
In the 1960s, however, Marquette Park became associated with something far less savory. Many of its close-knit, Old World residents were stubbornly resistant to Chicago’s changing racial demographics, prompting civil rights groups to organize demonstrations here in demand of open housing. Tensions climaxed in August 1966 when a peaceful march led by Martin Luther King, Jr., was met by an angry mob, and King himself was struck by a rock hurled at the marchers. It made international news, and in the 1970s the active presence of the American Nazi Party in the neighborhood further tarnished the name and reputation of Marquette Park neighborhood for years to come.
Rough stuff, to be sure, but it’s all in the past. And it’s all part of Marquette Park’s history—a time chiefly noteworthy in light of the community’s inviting and diverse nature today. Though many of the old families moved further south and west, there are still a good number of Irish, Polish, and Lithuanian-Americans here, joined now by a mix of Latin, Arab, and African-American neighbors. Together they give Marquette Park a cosmopolitan quality more often associated with north side communities like Ravenswood or Lincoln Square than with the bungalow-lined streets of Chicago’s south side.
The heart of the neighborhood—both in spirit and location—is its namesake Marquette Park (6700 S Kedzie Ave, 312-747-2761). This 323-acre 'playground of the Southwest Side' is one of the jewels of the Chicago Park District, featuring a golf course, a driving range, a putting green, picnic shelters, tennis and basketball courts, baseball, football, and soccer fields, a horseshoe ring, an archery range, and a spray pool for the kids, all ringed by a meandering 2.27-mile path for walking, running, and biking. A picturesque lagoon winds through the center of the park, overhung with willows and silver maples, providing a popular spot for fishing and canoeing, while strollers and photographers favor the wooden footbridges arching up among the reeds, or the charming rose garden nearby.
The star attraction, however, is the Marquette Park Golf Course (6734 S Kedzie Ave, 312-747-2761), arguably the most beautiful the Chicago Park District has to offer. It’s renowned not only for its exquisite layout, broad fairways and well-manicured greens, but also for its unique challenges. This is a 3,187 yard, par 36 course in which water hazards are a factor on seven of its nine holes. Our recommendation: Use your drivers. And watch out for that eighth hole. It’s a doozy!
Clearly the park is a great place to idle away a summer’s afternoon, but that doesn’t mean it hibernates in the winter. On a crisp day under a bright blue sky you’ll find plenty of ice skaters and cross-country skiiers braving the cold, while the indoor facilities available year-round include a gym, game room, kitchen, community meeting rooms, and even a theater.
Finally, a word about the park’s name. It commemorates the 17th century explorer and Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette—the first European tourist to experience the shock of a Chicago winter. But you won’t find a statue of him here. Instead, the grand Art Deco monument that has graced the park’s northeast entrance since 1935 honors a pair more dear to the neighborhood: pioneering aviators and Lithuanian-born Chicagoans Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas, who captured the world’s attention in 1933 with their daring but fatally unsuccessful attempt to fly nonstop from New York to Lithuania.
Marquette Park Real Estate
While there is some light industry and there are a couple of commercial strips on its borders, Marquette Park is primarily a residential area composed of quiet streets, trim lawns, and a mix of wood frame and brick homes. You’ll see raised-ranch and 1950s-style Georgians, but the predominant style in these parts is the classic Chicago bungalow.
This has long been a dependable place to find a solidly-built home at an affordable price. Even the newest construction in the area offers single-family homes starting well under $300,000. While multi-unit housing options are not as common in this Southwest Side Chicago neighborhood, vintage condos and brick courtyard apartment buildings dot the area with prices starting in the low $100,000s.
The average sales price for a detached single-family home in Marquette Park with three bedrooms is around $185,000. More space—meaning more bedrooms—can up the price a bit, with the majority of houses costing between $150,000 and $300,000.
What’s on the Menu?
Thanks to the cultural diversity in the area, Marquette Park has become a neighborhood that offers a lot more than your typical Chi-town fare of cold beer and stuffed pizza. While you’ll certainly encounter a wider range of cuisine up north, there are still a few delectable delights that are unique to the good ol’ south side.
For example, if Marquette Park is known as 'Little Lithuania,' then you should be able to get some good Lithuanian and Polish food around here, right? Naturalnie! And the place to start is on the little stretch of 69th Street known as Lithuanian Plaza. If you can’t afford a ticket to the Old Country, you can visit passport-free by crossing the threshold of the Antano Kampas Lithuanian Deli (2656 W 69th St, 773-476-4768). Here you’ll discover fresh Lithuanian bakery, cheese, and meat favorites (don’t miss the foot-long cow’s tongue!) along with hard-to-find imports like Kalnapilis beer and Korona chocolate. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, try next door at the equally authentic and well-stocked Lithuanian Plaza Bakery & Deli (2616 W.69th St, 773-778-4000).
When suppertime approaches and a deli just won’t do, follow that aroma of fried zeppelini to 71st Street where you’ll come across the Neringa Restaurant (2632 W 71st St, 773-476-9026) and Seklycia (2711 W 71st St, 773-476-1680). These family-run diners have been around for years, providing delicious Lithuanian-style breakfast, lunch and dinner with friendly service and wallet-friendly prices. By the way, if you’re hankering for something specific, it helps to speak Lithuanian. No problem, right?
Of course, Marquette Park isn’t just Little Lithuania anymore. If Baltic cuisine doesn’t suit your stomach, how about Middle Eastern? We’d feel awful without some falafel now and then, and Mike’s Middle East Restaurant (3508 W 63rd St, 773-436-7750) is a modest establishment that does it right for the right price. And just down the street, the Nile Restaurant (3259 W 63rd St, 773-434-7218) offers Marquette Park residents classic lamb, beef, and steak dishes, rounded out with a terrific selection of appetizers and salads, including a terrific taboule.
There’s great Mexican food all over Chicago, and Marquette Park is no exception. You’ll come across superb little taquerías throughout the neighborhood, like El Zarape Taquería (3439 W 63rd St, 773-778-7517) and Tacos Villa (3139 W 63rd St, 773-737-5385). But when you’re in the mood for something special, we recommend La Casa Restaurant (3141 W 63rd St, 773-471-1122). This little eatery not only has a delightful, romantic charm to it, but also a proud reputation for superior service and outstanding food, notably Mexican-style seafood.
Perhaps it’s good old-fashioned soul food you crave? Well, Marquette Park neighborhood has it all. Granny-B’s (2632 W 71st St, 773-925-4491) is a friendly little place that has the Southern style down, and the pork ribs in particular are to die for. The Wooden Spoon (7036 S Western Ave, 773-737-1422) is tops for soul food, too, with the added appeal of some tasty desserts, like fresh fruit smoothies, hand-packed ice cream or the house specialty, a delicious banana pudding.
Then there’s pizza (this is Chicago, after all). Papa T’s Pizza and Pub (2816 W Marquette Rd, 773-471-2266) always does great business and is a Marquette Park favorite for a slice of traditional pie. It’s a lively neighborhood hang-out, complete with pool table, dance floor, and dartboards, plus outside patio seating when weather permits. Of course, some locals award the best-pizza crown to Palermo’s Pizza & Restaurant (3751 W 63rd St, 773-585-5002), another popular spot. But who’s to say? Pizza is a very personal matter in Chicago, and there are around twenty different pizza parlors in this area alone. We say try ‘em all and choose for yourself!
Best Shopping Stops
Without a doubt, the place to shop in the Marquette Park neighborhood is 63rd Street, a shopping mecca of the southwest side for many years with a variety of stores lining both sides of the street, block after block.
When it comes to clothing, the emphasis in these parts is on the casual, the colorful, and the fun. For ladies’ jeans, tops, and other casual wear, Fashion 63rd (2417 W 63rd St, 773-776-8005) and Legit (2413 W 63rd St, 773-925-6770) both offer a wide selection, and they’re conveniently located right next door to each other. A few blocks west, the funky Urban Legendz Fashion (3109 W 63rd St, 773-737-4004) is jam-packed with a quirky assortment ranging from hats to shoes and everything else in between, including accessories. We like nosing around in here even when we’re not looking to buy—it’s just such a wild collection of unusual items.
Need a new pair of kicks? Walk no further than Blossom Shoes (2419 W 63rd St, 773-476-6769) for dress, casual, and athletic footwear for men, women, and kids too. Or, if you prefer to hit one of the major chains instead, you won’t have far to go. Payless Shoe Source (2401 W 63rd St, 773-434-9231) is just a couple doors down.
Sure, 63rd Street has a lot to offer, but you’ll have to get off the beaten track now and then to find unique boutiques like Clothes & Beyond (6447 S Rockwell St, 773-776-7647), featuring name brand clothing and accessories for women along with handcrafted jewelry from local artisans, or specialty shops like Welcome To Africa (2419 W 71st St, 773-434-4326), importers of dramatic apparel and artwork, and Gifts International (2501 W 71st St, 773-471-1424), where the specialty is amber jewelry and tchotchkes.
When it comes to gifts for ourselves, however, we have to wander back to 63rd for a dose of aroma therapy—and you can get that just by walking into Rampak House of Scents (2951 W 63rd St, 773-925-9477). Owner Malik Muhammad says his goal is 'to keep the hood smellin’ good,' and when you’re surrounded by so many exotic types of incense, shea butter products, bath salts and luxurious body oils, you have to admit he’s doing a pretty good job!
Night on the Town
Like many of the old, established sections of Chicago, Marquette Park is more like an independent township than a mere neighborhood. Lots of people grow up here, get married, and set up in a bungalow down the street from the folks, rarely setting foot past 63rd and Western. Sounds pretty tame, doesn’t it? Well, you might think that until you discover the partying, dancing and barhopping that goes on ‘til the wee hours at Marquette Park hotspots.
One of our favorites is Natasha’s Rome (2441 W 69th St, 773-842-9816), a terrific place to groove to R&B or, on Friday nights, to hear live blues from the house band called Willie T. There’s a bar upstairs and another one downstairs, so you’ll always have a place to sit at Natasha’s, or mingle with the crowd of local Marquette Parkers and other Chicagoans that show up here from surrounding south side neighborhoods. And for a different sort of treat, check out their Sunday night poetry slam hosted by Blaq Ice. Just remember that really cool cats don’t clap, they snap. You dig?
If Natasha’s is too tame, then the X-66 Nightclub (2811 W 63rd St, 773-778-6610) is for you. We’ve never partied here when it wasn’t wild, loud and crowded—but don’t worry, there’s always room for a few more in its unusually spacious environs. Before the jukebox starts pounding out pop rock dance tunes for the night’s revelries, the X-66 always seems to us like it just wants to be a typical (if oversized) sports bar. Maybe that’s because of the ballpark-style pipe organ between the video darts and bowling machines, just sitting there like it’s waiting to come alive for a seventh inning stretch. The organ actually does get played once and a while, too, but only when the Sox need to get charged up!
If the 1970s was your decade and you can still cut a rug, then we’d be remiss to overlook the Sexty Sex Lounge (6601 S Western Ave, 773-925-6601), a.k.a. Club 6601. You gotta love the retro name of this place—except that it isn’t exactly retro: it’s the real thing! Bring a little of that Shaft attitude with you and shuffle back in time to the sound of ‘70s soul.
For veteran fans of sports bars, dancing may not necessarily be your thing. No worries. You’ll fit right in with the crew at B & D Tap Lounge (2445 W 71st St, 773-778-4431), though the younger crowd definitely prefers Lucky’s (6600 S Western Ave, 773-778-5742), a fun bar that also serves food. Regional advisory: At any of these watering holes, you might want to leave that Cubs hat at home.
Mark Your Calendar
Since Marquette Park is home to one of Chicago’s best golf courses, the marquee annual events are the tournaments held there. Watch for the Senior Amateur Tournament in late May and the Senior Scramble in late September, while the granddaddy of ‘em all is the Cook County Amateur Golf Tournament, which Marquette Park hosted for the 92nd time in June 2007.
Other annual events in Marquette Park include the Ashburn Farmers Market (71st and Kedzie). Open from early June till mid-October, this is your opportunity to pick up gorgeous Michigan cherries, fresh Illinois corn, flavorful Indiana sweet potatoes and bushel baskets full of other wholesome vegetables, fruit and flowers direct from the region’s top growers. There’s also the Chicago Park District’s free Concerts in the Parks series which always includes a performance or two in Marquette Park. This fabulous program brings different music acts to different parks all over town each summer, ranging from reggae to rock, folk to classical. We never know what we’ll get or when, so check with the park district’s web site to peruse the season’s schedule.
The premiere event of all is Takin’ it to the Streets, Marquette Park’s unique festival of live entertainment, community workshops, and sports tournaments that comes around every other year. (Next stop: June 2009.) The popular event is hosted by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (2744 W 63rd St, 773-434-4626), a non-profit group that provides social services and Muslim outreach to the community. There’s a serious side to the festival, like free health check-ups, legal clinics, and workshops exploring Islam, but it’s all in the midst of a delightful, day-long carnival featuring live bands, comedians, and come-one-come-all basketball and volleyball tournaments. With luck, Takin’ it to the Streets will eventually become an annual instead of biennial event, because it gets bigger and better every time.
The street layout on the southwest side is even more grid-like than on the north side, and since east-west streets are numbered out here, you’re unlikely to ever get lost. We south siders are more car-dependent than our northern brethren, since this part of town is more spread out and has fewer CTA train lines than the north side. But, as a payoff, street parking around here is a breeze. Go to your destination and park right out front—it’s 'movie parking' practically every time! Taxis are less plentiful out here than they are up north and downtown, but Marquette Park’s better for cab-catching than most outlying neighborhoods due to its proximity to Midway Airport.
Perhaps for that same reason, public transportation is pretty handy in Marquette Park too. Chicago’s 'El' (a nickname derived from the train’s elevated tracks) doesn’t quite reach the neighborhood, but two of its lines come quite close, and bus routes connect at the end of those lines to get you anywhere you want to go. The CTA Orange Line provides a 20-minute ride from Midway Airport to the Loop, and that airport station is less than four miles from Marquette Park. So, by bus and train, a public transportation trip from Marquette Park to the Loop can take as little as 35 minutes. Another option is the Green Line. That train travels between downtown and Ashland Avenue at 63rd Street, which is only two and a half miles east of the neighborhood. From there, the 63rd Street bus takes you straight to Marquette Park.
The Kedzie/California #52, South Kedzie #52A, and South California #94 buses run north/south through the middle of the neighborhood, while the east and west borders are covered by the South Western #49A and South Pulaski #53A respectively. To travel east and west between those borders, use either the 63rd Street or 67th Street bus routes.
School’s in Session
A recent addition to Marquette Park is the Tarkington School of Excellence (3330 W 71st St, 773-534-0185), one of Chicago’s newest state-of-the-art elementary schools. Its 9.4-acre site is so huge that its grounds have been designated by the Chicago Park District as a new city park, named Tarkington Park (3344 W 71st St, 312-747-6136), where the city operates a day camp and a sports camp for kids aged 6-12 in the summer. Though other schools may be green with envy, the Tarkington is green in a more significant way: thanks to its living green roof and its use of solar panels, recycled building materials, and harvested rainwater, it’s the first Chicago Public School to be awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The curriculum also has a focus on environmentalism, offering students more in-depth engagement with the physical sciences and green technology.
Marquette Park and its adjacent neighborhoods have a number of public and private schools to choose from. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Eberhart Elementary School 3400 W 65th Pl – (773) 535-9090
Fairfield Elementary Academy 6201 S Fairfield Ave – (773) 535-9500
Gage Park High School 5630 S Rockwell St – (773) 535-9230
Maria High School – 6727 S California Ave – (773) 925-8686
Marquette Elementary School 6550 S Richmond – (773) 535-9260
McKay Elementary School 6901 S Fairfield Ave – (773) 535-9340
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School 6820 S Washtenaw Ave – (773) 476-0571
To help you out we’ve compiled a list of where you can find the bare necessities and handy resources in Marquette Park neighborhood, from bread and butter to Band-Aids and books.
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Chicago Lawn Public Library 6120 S Kedzie Ave – (312) 747-0639
6037 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 925-3490
3639 W 79th St – (773) 767-1788
Walgreens Pharmacy 6315 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 776-4481
Walgreens Pharmacy 7111 S Western Ave – (773) 863-8004
Holy Cross Hospital 2701 W 68th St – (773) 884-9000
A & C Grocery 6558 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 778-2867
Al-Anwar Food 3101 W 63rd St – (773) 737-3555
California Foodmart 2815 W 63rd St – (773) 737-8157
Fresh Max 6558 S Western Ave – (773) 778-5000
J & R’s 2638 W 71st St – (773) 776-4005
La Estrella 3003 W 63rd St – (773) 434-1771
Los Dos Rios 2939 W 63rd St – (773) 737-0549
Marquette Grocery Store 2824 W Marquette Rd – (773) 776-1128
Quality Foods 2553 W 71st St – (773) 737-5110
Western Food 7026 S Western Ave – (773) 471-1511
Curves 2832 W 63rd St – (773) 778-0123
The following are just a taste of the dining shopping and entertainment Marquette Park has to offer. Discover the rest as you explore the neighborhood for yourself.
Ford City Cinemas 4440 W 77th St – (773) 582-1838
ICE Western Theaters Spanish 2258 W 62nd St – (773) 476-4959
A M Comfort & Orthopedic Shoes 3127 W 63rd St – (773) 925-4184
Arcee’s Furniture 2537 W 63rd St – (773) 863-1350
Blossom Shoes 2419 W 63rd St – (773) 476-6769
Clothes & Beyond 6447 S Rockwell St – (773) 776-7647
Fashion 63rd 2417 W 63rd St – (773) 776-8005
Gifts International 2501 W 71st St – (773) 471-1424
King’s Jewelry 2415 W 63rd St – (773) 925-1003 Legit 2413 W 63rd St – (773) 925-6770
Payless Shoe Source 2401 W 63rd St – (773) 434-9231
Rampak House of Scents 2951 W 63rd St,- (773) 925-9477
Urban Legendz Fashion 3109 W 63rd St – (773)737-4004
Welcome To Africa 2419 W 71st St – (773) 434-4326
B & D Tap Lounge 2445 W 71st St – (773) 778-4431
Corbett’s Pub 3429 W 63rd St – (773) 434-4223
Lucky’s 6600 S Western Ave – (773) 778-5742
Natasha’s Rome 2441 W 69th St – (773) 842-9816
Sexty Sex Lounge 6601 S Western Ave – (773) 925-6601
6511 Club 6511 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 737-6703
X-66 Nightclub 2811 W 63rd St – (773) 778-6610
Granny-B’s 2632 W 71st St – (773) 925-4491
Palermo’s Pizza & Restaurant 3751 W 63rd St – (773) 585-5002
Papa T’s Pizza and Pub 2816 W Marquette Rd – (773) 471-2266
The Wooden Spoon 7036 S Western Ave – (773) 737-1422
Chop Suey Wok 6812 S Western Ave – (773) 471-2316
Joy Luck 2655 W 71st St – (773) 436-4330
Antano Kampas Lithuanian Deli 2656 W 69th St – (773) 476-4768
Neringa Restaurant 2632 W 71st St – (773) 476-9026
Seklycia 2711 W 71st St – (773) 476-1680
El Zarape Taqueria 3439 W 63rd St – (773) 778-7517
La Casa Restaurant 3141 W 63rd St – (773) 471-1122
Tacos Villa 3139 W 63rd St – (773) 737-5385
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Mike’s Middle East Restaurant 3508 W 63rd St – (773) 436-7750
Nile Restaurant 3259 W 63rd St – (773) 434-7218
Al Rasheed Bakery 3255 W 63rd St – (773) 925-4711
Al-Ahman Bakery 2513 W 63rd St – (773) 737-2333
Lithuanian Plaza Bakery & Deli 2616 W 69th St – (773) 778-4000
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. Marquette 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 Marquette Park.