Situated on the edge of Chicago city limits, the tiny Marycrest neighborhood — no more than four blocks wide and a couple blocks long — has the feel of a suburban haven. Sprawling green backyards and large single-family homes mark Marycrest as a quiet community, perfect for those slowing down or just starting out. Marycrest inhabitants appreciate the privacy and seclusion of their pocketsize residential enclave, which does afford a few daily essentials hard to live without. The almighty corner coffee shop, for example, supplies that necessary morning boost, and a couple takeout joints is all you need to feed the fam on those nights you just don't want to cook.
Location: about 15 miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Wrightwood, Ashburn, Parkview, Evergreen Park
Boundaries: 85th Street to the north, Kedzie Avenue to the east, 87th Street to the south and Central Park Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Located at the southern tip of the larger Ashburn community, which borders the suburb of Evergreen Park, Marycrest is a relatively new Chicago neighborhood. However, the surrounding areas, particularly Ashburn, have a rich history that seeps into Marycrest’s culture and everyday life.
In the early 1890s, Dutch, Swedish, and Irish immigrants had settled the area of Ashburn in hopes that Chicago’s Columbian Exposition would meld the entire south side it into a bustling cosmopolitan hub, but alas, being so far away from the lakeshore (about 15 miles) made Ashburn a convenient outpost rather than another city center. The growth of transportation in the form of elevated trains never quite made it through Ashburn, and thus World’s Fair-goers never made it to Ashburn either. The disregarded community located next to the more industrial Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway and waited for success, again. It kept waiting. Eleven years later, well after the fair ended, Ashburn had grown from 30 homes to 48 homes, hardly constituting itself as any sort of destination.
Ashburn plunged forward into the 20th century. In 1916, Chicago’s first airport opened, the Ashburn Flying Field, the first step in the path to making Chicago an aviation center of the world. However, Ashburn’s mild aviation accomplishments were soon eclipsed. In 1927, Municipal Airport (now Midway) opened on the south side of Chicago. The Ashburn Flying Field struggled on until it closed in 1939. The airstrip was removed and the land was converted into a shopping mall and suburban-style subdivision in 1950.
Throughout the next several decades, Ashburn never caught on as a lively urban hotspot. Instead, suburbia crept in and around the area until Ashburn residents realized it was okay to be a more laidback community—hey, they still had the busy city center nearby, right? The neighborhood began to embrace its single-family homes, medium-sized malls, and small condominium complexes. And, in 1993 a new subdivision was constructed between the Chicago city neighborhood of Ashburn and the suburb of Evergreen Park. The pocketsize community was named Marycrest.
Marycrest is one of Chicago’s smallest neighborhoods with only a few residential streets, one main thoroughfare along 87th Street, and all the peace and quiet you can want—as the Evergreen Cemetery extends through the southern half of the subdivision. Despite its tiny size, Marycrest is the ideal neighborhood for families who are just starting out, career folks who crave the suburban lifestyle but want a shorter commute downtown (only 15 miles), or anyone who has a hankering for a large, lush lawn.
It may not have room for the typical public parkland that most Chicago neighborhoods possess, but this tiny enclave offers residents plenty of wide open space, and a quiet setting … a very quiet setting.
Marycrest neighborhood is edged on the south side by Evergreen Park Cemetery (3401 W 87th St, 708-422-9051). And it just so happens that one of the most relaxing things to do around here is to take a hushed walk along the sprawls of green that run for acres through the beautifully well-kept grounds of the graveyard. Deep thoughts and even light conversation bide well with wandering among the multitude of headstones and monuments of normal folks past their time. The calm silence and breathtaking sunsets are not to be missed—yeah, we know it’s a cemetery, but really, the place is quite soothing. Just try it sometime, the tranquility of a simple stroll restores a sense of comfort and respite to even the most stressful day.
Marycrest Real Estate
Marycrest is a somewhat undiscovered neighborhood of Chicago. Surrounded by larger neighborhoods like Ashburn and Wrightwood, and bordered to the south by the suburb of Evergreen Park, Marycrest often goes overlooked. The neighborhood is only about four blocks long and its entire south section is occupied by the Evergreen Cemetery, so that doesn’t leave much room for housing or other businesses. But it is this limited space that gives Marycrest neighborhood such a wonderfully quaint and private community ambiance.
The neighborhood’s few residential streets consist of good-sized single-family homes that are set back from the street and have front lawns, large backyards and decks, and attached garages. Yep, there’s no doubt about it—folks who yearn for the less cramped atmosphere and free parking (and garage parking in the winter, in many cases) of the suburbs will fall in love with Marycrest. It was like this tiny cove of homes was made for those who want a lot of living space but enjoy the convenience and culture of being close to the city.
Most of the homes here are two-stories, split-levels or raised ranches. As you may have guessed, the number of homes on the market in Marycrest is rather limited because there aren’t that many to begin with. But that’s not to say dedicated home-seekers won’t find exactly what their looking for in this tiny south side Chicago neighborhood. As this subdivision was established in the early 1990s, the bulk of the properties are in great condition and provide all the modern amenities and conveniences a homebuyer would expect these days.
The average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family house in Marycrest is about $237,000, but you can generally find one for under $200,000. A four-bedroom place averages around $262,000, although a handful of homes this size sell for between $300,000 and $340,000.
What’s on the Menu?
Though the central focus of the neighborhood is on spacious housing, Marycrest also doles out good eats along the main thoroughfares of Kedzie Avenue and 87th Street where there are a couple hotspots to check out for a dinner with the family or a quick bite anytime of day.
When you’re out late and looking for a good meal, Sky Chop Suey (8616 S Kedzie Ave, 773-778-6970) will be your beacon of tasty food in the middle of the night. Open â€˜til 1:00 am (except for on Sundays), Sky Chop Suey is a smalltime family restaurant that serves up big portions for a modest price. This favorite Marycrest dining spot serves lunch in addition to night-owl feasts, and no matter when you’re in there, we think the best thing to get is the garlic chicken. Just try to resist once inside and you get a whiff of that garlic wafting from the depths of the kitchen. It’s intense, tempting, and so far, we haven’t been able pass it up for anything else on the menu. However, if garlic isn’t your bag, we hear the chopped pepper steak entree is a good bet, and be sure to split some chili fried rice with the table. The chili refers to how spicy the rice is—and boy will your mouth will be on fire—but somehow, you want to just keep shoveling it in! It doesn’t matter how late or early you get there, Sky Chop Suey is always a friendly, darn tasty spot for a sit-down meal in Marycrest. But if you do have to run, call in an order and grab it to go—the portions will still be huge, probably enough for both dinner and that midnight snack.
Sometimes, we just gotta go to a greasy spoon. Taste Buds Gyros (8618 S Kedzie Ave, 773-476-4333) isn’t the healthiest joint in Chicago, but that’s not what they’re going for anyway. It’s a Marycrest eatery that will give you plastic tabletops, a clean family-diner-shack feel, and plenty of food for less than 10 bucks. At Taste Buds, the clientele goes for the gyros. Order a gyro, have them put extra cucumber sauce on it, pile it high with onions and juicy tomatoes and get ready to try and fit that whole huge pita in your mouth. It won’t work. You will have to use two hands and still, that gyro will be too huge to handle—but that’s one type of problem we don’t mind having. Then there are the thick-cut wedge fries (we get ours extra crispy). If gyros don’t call out to you, think simple fried food: fried zucchini, mozzarella sticks, onion rings…this place is great for those days when you could care less about carrots and carb counts.
Best Shopping Stops
For such a cozy neighborhood, Marycrest offers up a lot of retail outlets! The main shopping center in Marycrest is a strip mall along 87th Street. Looking for something to get your sweetheart or maybe just the perfect pair of shoes? Marycrest residents know just where to go and it’s all right in one spot for the most convenient neighborhood retail district this side of the Magnificent Mile—well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, anniversary, or just a plain old Tuesday afternoon; Fanny May Candy Store (3210 W 87th St, 773-737-4631) is one of our favorite shopping stops in Marycrest. Try a specialty chocolate creation like the turtle, a chocolate covered pecan, or caramel wedge. Follow it up with a breath-freshening piece of the peppermint bark. Don’t forget to get some sweets for the rest of the family or maybe some friends. Fanny May has a delicious assortment of affordable gift baskets to match any season or special occasion. If it happens to be 'teacher appreciation day,' why not get the kid’s teacher a dark chocolate gift basket, filled to the brim with silky, smooth chocolate squares, candy bars, chocolate chips, and other delectable treasures. Maybe it’s Valentine’s Day…well, get your special someone an oversized gift basket with a handsome teddy bear holding caramel creations, white chocolate bars, and an assortment of chocolate covered nuts and candies that’s sure to win the heart over.
Immediately after filling up on fine chocolates probably isn’t the best time to go clothes shopping, but since it’s right there, we can’t help stepping into the Fashion Bug (3258 W 87th St, 773-737-1377) to have a little look. At Fashion Bug you can fill a whole cart with facsimile designer wear without having to empty out your wallet to get them home. Trendy teens and twenty-somethings dig on the fun shirts and cool skirts. Meanwhile, the more mature crowd can get a slick business skirt and matching blouse for a very nice price. Just a warning, the jewelry can be a bit on the breakable plastic side, but everything else is Fashion Bug is time-tested and approved. When searching for men’s attire in Marycrest, Sports ‘n Fashion (3252 W 87th St, 773-776-3187) has the latest trends in sportswear. It doesn’t matter if you’re searching for the newest version of Nikes or those old-school canvas Converse, Sports ‘n Fashion has’em. They’ve also got got the most popular sports jerseys and shirts, along with accessories like socks and sweat bands. This neighborhood favorite is the perfect place to placate that sports fan in the house.
Rainbow Kids (3264 W 87th St, 773-925-9551) is the all-purpose children’s store to head to when school bells start ringing and the kids are itching for cool new clothes. Toddlers to pre-teens can get the newest fashions without the expensive mall price tag. As the seasons change, so does the stock at Rainbow Kids. The best deals happen in fall and spring when old styles go on clearance for the upcoming season. And with the way those kids grow it seems like we’re in here every other month for a larger size and longer pants. But no matter how old and tall our children get, we can’t resist stopping to ogle over the baby socks. They’re so little and cute.
Now that everyone in the family has got cool new duds, you gotta get comfy shoes to go with it all. Payless Shoe Source (3350 W 87th St, 773-737-8216) will treat your feet right for a wallet-happy price. The best thing about Payless is that they are able to keep prices down by using non-leather products. So both animal activists and fashionistas can find some fabulous pairs of stylish footwear that fit the bill for stylish and politically correct. In addition to faux-leather shoes, Payless sells other animal-friendly products like purses—so you can accessorize to your heart’s content. There are always price-slashing deals, and even if you miss the annual sales, prices are generally so low you won’t feel bad about going to Payless anytime of the year.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again … Marycrest is a really small Chicago neighborhood, so getting around within its boundaries is quick and easy, it’s getting to other destinations throughout the city that requires a bit more insight to the nearby transportation routes.
But back to intra-neighborhood travel first. Most folks living in Marycrest depend on their own automobiles. There’s sufficient parking at the neighborhood shopping center if you choose to drive there, and every house has its own garage, so parking at home is no problem either. If ever the car breaks down and you plan on cabbing it while your vehicle is in the shop, calling for a cab is a definite must. There would be a long wait—nigh on never—before a taxi wandered into this suburban-esque neighborhood. Walking or biking it around Marycrest is a great pastime, but not very practical for most people as a mode of transportation downtown.
For that, the best way to get to the depths of Chicago’s city center is to take the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94). There are exit and entrance ramps directly east of Marycrest neighborhood at both 83rd and 87th streets. At only 15 miles southwest of the city, it will take you between 20-60 minutes to reach the Loop from here (the higher end is due to the construction on the Dan Ryan which can cause quite a backup during peak travel time). Fortunately, the roadwork is scheduled for completion at the end of 2007 with cosmetic enhancement finished in late 2008.
If you’d rather sit back and enjoy the ride to work instead of driving yourself, the 87th Street buses (#87 and #385) travel through Marycrest and right into downtown. Also, you can hop on the #87 bus for a quick trip to the 87th Street stop of the CTA Red Line train. The Red Line leads all the way north, through the Loop, and into the upper reaches of Chicago.
Also allowing travelers to sit back and enjoy a good book instead of perfecting their defensive driving skills are the Metra commuter train lines. The Metra Rail has two routes that run near Marycrest neighborhood. The first train is the Metra Heritage Corridor line, which has a stop at Summit, about a five-minute drive from the heart of Marycrest. The second train is the Metra Southwest Service line which stops at 95th Street, just about 10 minutes from the small south side Chicago neighborhood.
Even cozy, quiet neighborhoods take adjusting to, so here’s the basic primer on Marycrest. Listed below is where to workout, grab the groceries, and pick up prescriptions.
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Aldi 3231 W 87th St (708) 423-1509
Nadard Wholesale Grocer 3636 W 83rd Pl – (773) 582-1000
New Quick Market 8301 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 925-7001
Bally Total Fitness 3348 W 87th St – (773) 925-0400
Wrightwood Public Library 8530 S Kedzie Ave – (312) 747-2696
Walgreens 8700 S Kedzie Ave (708) 499-5196
9420 S Kedzie Ave (708) 422-2142
9359 S Kedzie Ave (708) 422-0740
Marycrest is a small neighborhood with a laidback attitude. The main thoroughfare is 87th Street where you’ll find food, fitness, and shopping. Here’s a beginner’s list on what’s going on and where in Marycrest.
Fanny May Candy Store 3210 W 87th St – (773) 737-4631
Fashion Bug 3258 W 87th St – (773) 737-1377
Payless Shoe Source 3350 W 87th St – (773) 737-8216
Rainbow Kids 3264 W 87th St – (773) 925-9551
Sports’n Fashion 3252 W 87th St – (773) 776-3187
Super Discount 3272 W 87th St – (773) 476-7777
Dunkin Donuts 3214 W 87th St – (773) 776-2263
Subway Sandwiches 8614 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 737-3000
Taste Buds Gyros 8618 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 476-4333
Sky Chop Suey 8616 S Kedzie Ave – (773) 778-6970
Evergreen Cemetery 3401 W 87th St (708) 422-9051
There’s a lot of mystery involved in searching for a new home-it starts with the property and expands outward to encompass the street, the block, the neighborhood, the entire city! Every little thing matters from the color of the walls to the attractions of the town. That’s why a guide like this one on Marycrest is so helpful to potential homebuyers. Without leaving the comfort of your desktop computer or laptop, you’ve got an extensive pool of information on all of Chicago’s neighborhoods that includes first-hand descriptions of dining, entertainment, shopping, bars, and events, in addition to lists of schools, hospitals, post offices, and gyms. We’ve done all the research to carefully craft this one-stop online spot, and create your hub for the real deal on Marycrest. So as soon as a Chicago loft, condo, townhome or house catches your eye, you know where to come for the low down on the digs around that prime piece of real estate.