A short five miles southwest of the Loop, McKinley Park got its name from America's 35th president, William McKinley. McKinley Park boasts a thick working-class history and plenty of creature comforts like wide open spaces, cozy homes, and a newly renovated, absolutely gorgeous 69-acre park (also named McKinley Park). Picturesque lagoons provide a beautiful setting for picnicking in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The community park also hosts seasonal sports, day camps and other organized activities for residents of all ages. In addition to fun recreation options right in your own backyard, McKinley Parkers enjoy close proximity to several dozen restaurants, sandwich shops, bars and bakeries. McKinley Park is also one of the few Chicago neighborhoods to have a Target within its boundaries, but for anything else it's easy enough to jump on the Orange Line train or hop on the Stevenson Highway for a quick trip into downtown.
McKinley Park Facts
Location: About 5 miles southwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Bridgeport, Brighton Park, Back-of-the-Yards, Little Village
Boundaries: Stevenson Expressway to the north, Ashland Avenue to the east, Pershing Rd to the south and Western Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Ever since early immigrants settled in McKinley Park, a strong work ethic has flowed through the community’s veins. The working class tradition began in 1836 when Irish laborers took up squatting rights in McKinley Park as they built the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The small squatter’s village continued to develop through the 1840s and farmers began to drain off swampy areas to create suitable crop land. The I & M Canal was finished in 1848 and about a decade later the Alton Railroad laid tracks through McKinley Park in 1857.
The use of the railroad and waterways created a small boom for McKinley Park during and well after the Civil War. Though the early farmers successfully drained some soil for farm use, most of McKinley Park remained a mild wetland—perfect for breeding those pesky mosquitoes. Ironically, the area acquired the nickname 'Mount Pleasant' despite the muck, insects, and garbage problems. Even with less than ideal terrain, full of tribulations and obstacles, McKinley Park was annexed into Chicago in 1863.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 spared much of the neighborhood of McKinley Park, and additionally created a need for working class labor and raw building products. The next five years saw eleven factories, producing mostly iron and steel, go up in the area. In addition, the meatpacking operations on the south side of Chicago picked up production. These industries created a steady flow of jobs, fixing McKinley Park as a blue-collar boomtown.
As McKinley Park worked into the future, more and more pollution poured out of its factories. Irish, German, Swedish, English, and native-born Americans remained in the prosperous area even as meatpacking houses dumped waste directly into the Chicago River, which runs slightly above and parallel to the McKinley Park community. Needless to say, residents were not happy with the circumstances at hand and made their feelings known over and over again to no avail. However, as McKinley Park hit the turn of the 20th century, the years of complaints were heeded, as local community politicians felt the pressure to make a change. The pollution was not only regulated, but remedied. Clean up ensued and tidier forms of industry, including a Pepsi-Cola Bottling Plant and a large publishing plant for the Chicago Sun-Times, took over the industrial scene.
There’s plenty of room to stretch out, roam about, and have some good ole’ outdoor fun in the beautiful selection of parks in McKinley Park neighborhood. Whether it’s a family day or a quiet, relaxing get-away, there is a lush patch of green and a breath of fresh air waiting for you.
In the shaded cove of Hoyne Playground Park (3417 S Hamilton Ave, 312-747-6184) families can enjoy the fun of summer through baseball, softball, soccer, and other seasonal sports. In addition, summertime brings day camps for the youngsters who may be lacking a little structure since elementary school let out in early June. Hoyne even hosts evening screenings of family-appropriate movies throughout the warm weather months, free of charge and open to all ages. Another excellent family-fun zone is Kucinski-Murphy Park (1635 West 33rd Place, 312-747-6527), also known as 33rd Place Playground. During the 1990s a renovation brought with it a new soft-surface playground. Plenty of swings and kid-safe jungle-gym equipment keep the whole family active, and the little ones can’t seem to get enough of the wet and wild kiddie spray pool! The excitement doesn’t end in the winter either, because the playing field is flooded to create an ice skating rink, the ultimate in cold climate outdoor amusement.
The biggest park is, fittingly, McKinley Park (2210 W Pershing Rd, 312-747-6527), located in the southwest corner of the neighborhood and encompassing a vast 69 acres. Situated on land that was formerly cabbage patch fields and a race track, McKinley Park was dedicated in June 1902 in an event attended by more than 10,000 people. The park was named after President William McKinley, who was assassinated the previous year. McKinley Park is a marvelous neighborhood getaway that still provides residents with wide open space and outstanding recreation and sporting activities. There are lagoons and picturesque picnic areas that prove local wildlife, like cranes, rabbits, and ducks do exist within Chicago city limits. The mile-long walking trail loops the park in between the public meeting hall, fitness facilities, and swimming areas where little McKinley Parkers splash around in the water playgrounds. If you don’t know how to swim, or just want to improve on that backstroke, sign up for a class—there are programs for adults and children, in addition to day camps, and seasonal sports like softball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and ice skating.
McKinley Park Real Estate
McKinley Park is a slow and steady kind of Chicago neighborhood—isn’t that the type that wins the race? But seriously, McKinley Park has been developing through generations of working-class families that first settled the land in the 1830s. Now, over a century later, McKinley Park is still a cozy, family-focused neighborhood with affordable housing, on the cusp of being on the rise. The residential streets reveal an appealing mix of old and new structures, where modern townhomes occasionally sit catty-corner to century-old homes.
New townhouses, smaller apartment complexes, and two- to four-story flats line the avenues next door to neighborhood parks. A variety of smaller bungalows, raised ranches, and single-family homes round out the housing options in McKinley Park. In general, the homes include spacious living areas, reasonable property values, and a short commute on the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) to downtown Chicago.
Generally, the average sales price for a one-bedroom condo in McKinley Park is $209,000, but you can easily find places in the mid to upper $100,000s. Two or three-bedroom units average around $278,000 with a few in the $350,000 to $375,000 range. Detached single-family homes with three bedrooms sell for as low as $90,000, but can reach into the $400,000s. While not common for the majority of McKinley Park housing, some of those century-old historic homes are valued at a million dollars.
What’s on the Menu?
There is no shortage of delicious eateries around McKinley Park. It doesn’t matter if you crave good ole’ American cuisine, a pizza pie, or a pastry, this neighborhood has it all.
After you’ve spent a pleasure-filled day at the park, head over to Lindy’s Chili and Gertie’s Ice Cream (3685 S Archer Ave, 773-927-7807). The casual atmosphere can get a little bit cramped on the weekends, but the thick sliced tomato chili (with or without beans) will make the wait worth while. A union of two Chicago institutions, Lindy’s has been serving up chili in the Chicagoland area since 1924 and Gertie’s has been dishing out the best sundaes and ice cream since 1901. Since it’s half restaurant, half ice cream parlor, this neighborhood fixture not only has food specials and dessert specials, but cheap beer specials as well. Now, we usually indulge in a huge-scooped, classic banana split, but that brings up the question—is it possible to get a root beer float minus the root? Another great place for a tasty treat in this south side neighborhood is Huck Finn Donuts and Snack Shop (3414 S Archer Ave, 773-247-5515). Huck Finn’s is a 24-hour restaurant that focuses on the simple things: a good cup of coffee, large doughnuts and burgers with fries. Though Huck Finn’s has a full day menu, it is best known as a family-owned chain that invites customers to sit down and stay a while with a decadent dessert. Order the Donut Delight. It’s a tall ice cream sundae stacked precariously and deliciously upon an oversized donut.
In the mood for Chinese food? Buddha’s Chop Suey (3125 S Ashland Ave, 773-376-1199) is an affordable, family-owned restaurant that prides itself on low prices for excellent food. The egg rolls are fried to perfection, and we highly recommend the pineapple sweet and sour chicken. For about six bucks, you get enough entree for leftovers and a side of white rice. Can’t decide what you want to eat? Try the Ocean Buffet (3145 S Ashland Ave, 773-927-8082). It sounds like a seafood buffet, but it’s actually a Chinese/American restaurant. There isn’t that much seafood, but there is a fresh, fully stocked spread for under $10. Make sure to save room for dessert. There are little puff pastries called 'sweetie buns' that are fried dough, lightly rolled in sugar and an excellent end to any meal.
Don Jose Tamaleria and Taqueria (2000 W 34th St, 773-927-4252) is authentic Mexican, so authentic that you might have a hard time understanding the counter help if you don’t speak Spanish, but the folks are plenty friendly and strive to make your visit a memorable one. There are a few small tables inside, however most of Don Jose’s clientele take their food to go. Everything on the menu is under 10 dollars and the portions are over-flowingly large. The squash blossom quesadillas sound strange, but they’re a must-try—stringy cheese oozes out of the tortilla with tangy orange and green edible flowers. Ino’s Tacos (1856 W 35th St, 773-254-9676) has been filling Chicago bellies since 1976. This small family restaurant in McKinley Park serves breakfast through dinner with late hours, too (4 am Friday and Saturday, 2 am every other day). The best thing to do is get Ino’s Special: two large tortilla shells wrapped together to create one mega-huge, super-tasty burrito with whatever you want stuffed inside.
Best Shopping Stops
After filling up at one of McKinley Parks many eateries, walk off the meal with a brisk shopping spree of the neighborhood shops—best known for allowing residents to get their errands done quickly, and affordably.
One of the main thoroughfares in McKinley Park is 35th Street where you’ll find a mix of bargain retail outlets and small privately owned boutiques. Cardona’s Thrift Store (1758 W 35th St, 773-376-3888) is a beacon of affordability and a clean, well-kept joint selling secondhand goods. It carries children’s clothing and adult fashions, as well as fabulously priced furniture that might be there because it needs just a slight bit of TLC. Another great stop for price-conscious shoppers is Unique Thrift Store (3542 S Archer Ave, 773-247-2599). The Unique chain has locations across Chicagoland, but the McKinley Park site always seems to have the best stuff. There is a large selection of not only apparel for the whole family, but books, children’s toys, miscellaneous fabric and yarn, and home furnishings. Parking is a cinch, and the checkout lines always move quickly. Mondays are half-price on everything and the store gets a bit crowded, but the crush is definitely worth the vintage and modern fashions you’ll find for a fraction of the price.
Night on the Town
The perfect evening out in McKinley Park is as follows: good food, good friends, and a small, quiet bar to play catch up. There are no loud, trendy clubs in this south side Chicago haven, only hospitable, affordable pubs and hangouts that get the job done.
Archview Bar and Grill (3115 S Archer Ave, 773-523-7550) is a small family-owned bar that serves up cool drafts and small talk with a crew of hardworking regulars that appreciate the end of the week and a good beer. There are pretzels at the bar, if you ask, and plenty of local chatter. The cheeseburgers fill you up and if they don’t, the fries will. The most common beers served here are PBR, Old Style, Miller Lite, and Bud (cans and bottles folks) and you can get modest cocktails for a modest price. Archview is almost directly off the Stevenson Expressway and has found its way into the hearts of many a traveler before they wander home. Like Archview, O’Malley’s Pub (3617 S Archer Ave, 773-376-2124) is a McKinley Park staple. O’Malley’s is as Irish as the day is long with Guinness served up high, frothy, and always on tap. The dark wood bar cradles patrons with pictures of long gone friends and vintage alcohol advertisements.
McKinley Park is well connected to Chicago and outlying suburbs. Getting around the neighborhood is no problem either, whether you own your own vehicle or would rather take public transit.
For the most part, there is metered parking along main drags, free parking along side streets, and plenty of free parking lots for local businesses in McKinley Park. The neighborhood has mildly heavy traffic, so bicycle riding can get a little bit tricky, but there are several transportation options that get you where you need to go.
The CTA Orange Line elevated train (also called the 'El') runs diagonally through McKinley Park. Hop on at the 35th Street/Archer Avenue stop and ride directly into the Loop and further into the city through transfers to other trains. A trip to downtown Chicago will run between 15-30 minutes, the later time accounting for commuter congestion and delays.
In addition to the El, McKinley Park is conveniently located directly next to the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). A trip on the Stevenson into downtown will take between 10-30 minutes, again, depending on the time of day and the traffic that ensues. I-55 also leads into the southern reaches of Illinois, making any suburban area easily accessible from this south side Chicago neighborhood.
School’s in Session
One of McKinley Park’s newest and most outstanding charter schools is Namaste Charter School (3540 S Hermitage Ave, 773-715-9558). The word 'Namaste' is an Indian greeting of respect and reverence. Through the Namaste curriculum kids are taught not only respect and reverence for the people around them, but also for themselves through lessons in academics, health and fitness. The best habits are built into a person when they’re still growing and Namaste aims to build healthy individuals, one year at a time.
When it’s time for those school bells to ring, McKinley Park has quite a few options for the elementary to high school-aged students in the family. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Everett Elementary School 3419 S Bell Ave – (773) 535-4550
Evergreen Academy 3537 S Paulina St – (773) 535-4836
Namaste Charter School 3540 S Hermitage Ave – (773) 715-9558
St Andrews Lutheran School 3659 S Honore St – (773) 376-5370
Here’s a list of some of the places in McKinley Park that help fulfill your everyday needs, from where to get groceries to where the nearest public library is located.
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Cook County Corrections Health 2800 S California Ave – (773) 869-7000
St. Patrick Family Health Center 3344 S Halsted St – (773) 523-9550
Cermak Produce 3435 S Archer Ave – (773) 847-9700 Dominick’s Finer Foods 3145 S Ashland Ave – (773) 247-2633
Jewel-Osco 3644 S Archer Ave – (773) 523-6923
Oakley Foods 3300 S Oakley Ave – (773) 523-3945
Paulina Foods 3663 S Paulina St – (773) 254-9397
Chicago Park Center Gym Center 2210 W Pershing Rd – (312) 747-6536
McKinley Park Public Library 1915 W 35th St – (312) 747-6082
Dominick’s 3145 S Ashland Ave – (773) 247-2633
Osco Drug 3644 S Archer Ave – (773) 523-6923
Walgreens 1926 W 35th St – (773) 254-6102
Walgreens 3798 S Western Ave – (773) 254-6383
2259 S Damen Ave – (312) 747-8246
3501 S Lowe Ave – (312) 747-8227
4101 S Halsted St # 2 – (773) 247-0731
Hoyne Playground Park 3417 S Hamilton Ave – (312) 747-6184)
Kucinski-Murphy Park 1635 West 33rd Place – (312) 747-6527
McKinley Park 2210 W Pershing Rd – (312) 747-6527
Ace Hardware 3240 S Ashland Ave – (773) 247-6100
Cardona’s Thrift Store 1758 W 35th St – (773) 376-3888
Target 1940 W 33rd St – (773) 843-3250
Unique Thrift Store 3542 S Archer Ave – (773) 247-2599
Bakeries and Sweets
La Guadalupana Bakery 2025 W 35th St – (773) 247-2404
Leavitt Candy Store 3359 S Leavitt St – (773) 847-2241
3600 Club 3600 S Damen Ave – (773) 247-3939
Arch View Bar and Grills 3115 S Archer Ave – (773) 523-7550
Bee’s Archer Pub 3327 South Archer Avenue – (773) 847-8505
Chesterfield Pub 1800 W Pershing Rd – (773) 376-9511
Don’s Big Dogs 3800 S Honore St – (773) 847-6810
Garcia Miguel 3401 S Ashland Ave – (773) 927-1744
Harry’s Tap 3243 S Paulina St – (773) 890-4339
O’Malley’s 3617 S Archer Ave – (773) 376-2124
Archview Restaurant 3480 S Archer Ave – (773) 254-4862
BBQ Patio 3256 S Ashland Ave – (773) 523-7775
Huck Finn Donut & Snack Shop 3414 S Archer Ave – (773) 247-5515
Kay’s Soup and Sandwich 1834 W Pershing Rd – (773) 376-5013
Lindy’s Chili and Gertie’s Ice Cream 3685 S Archer Ave – (773) 927-7807
Nicky’s Carryout 1734 W 35th St – (773) 847-6881
Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits 3204 S Ashland Ave – (773) 254-2200
Soul Restaurant 1938 W Pershing Rd – (773) 247-8702
Subway Sandwiches and Salads 3125 S Ashland Ave – (773) 254-4885
Buddha’s Chop Suey 3125 S Ashland Ave – (773) 376-1199
China Chef 3832 S Ashland Ave – (773) 254-6476
Great Hunan 1958 W 35th St – (773) 847-2907
Lucky’s Chinese Food 3170 S Ashland Ave – (773) 650-1188
Ocean Buffet 3145 S Ashland Ave – (773) 927-8082
Don Jose Tamaleria and Taqueria 2000 W 34th St – (773) 927-4252
El Cuaco Restaurant and Lounge 3434 S Western Ave – (773) 890-9058
El Solazo 3623 S Archer Ave – (773) 627-5047
Ino’s Tacos 1856 W 35th St – (773) 254-9676
La Cocina De Mama Nena’s 2022 W 35th St – (773) 890-9145
Los Girasoles 3661 S Archer Ave – (773) 847-0433
Taste of Chicago Restaurant 3170 S Ashland Ave – (773) 579-0355
Taqueria Los Camales 3623 S Archer Ave – (773) 890-4307
Veteran Tamale Shop 3133 S Archer Ave – (773) 927-1282
Apache Grill & Pizzeria 3429 S Archer Ave – (773) 376-4015
Carlito’s Way Pizza 3558 S Ashland Ave – (773) 890-0001
Lula’s Grill and Pizza 1858 W Pershing Rd – (773) 523-0553
Papa Freddy’s Pizza 2001 W 35th St – (773) 890-9060
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. McKinley 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 McKinley Park.