A diverse neighborhood of wide streets and single-family homes, North Austin is anchored by beautifully landscaped parks and recreation facilities. Long rows of brick bungalows and wood-frame houses epitomize North Austin, which has a limited amount of commercial business and nightlife. Instead, this west side Chicago community loves its tranquility and undeveloped nature. Public parks and playlots cover acres of neighborhood land with greenery, athletic fields, tennis and volleyball courts, jogging and walking paths, playground equipment and even an outdoor swimming pool. The indoor park facilities provide North Austin residents with gyms, meeting rooms and an auditorium.
North Austin Facts
Location: 7 miles west of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: South Austin, West Humboldt Park, Galewood, Hanson Park, Belmont Central
Boundaries: Cicero Avenue on the east, Austin Boulevard (and Oak Park) on the west, the Milwaukee District/West Line Metra rail line on the north and Division Street on the south
Crime Statistics: Go to CLEARMap to search specific streets and areas for crime incidents
Then and Now
This far west side Chicago neighborhood was established by developer Henry Austin in 1865. It was his intention to create a community that would foster families and a pious lifestyle. Known then as Austinville, this new settlement grew fast and by the 1890s it was the largest settlement in Cicero Township. The growth of the Chicago & Northwestern rail line and the extension of the Lake Street elevated tracks made the early village of Austin an important transportation hub, a standing that was key to its development into a separate city—just like what happened in Oak Park to the west.
However, further expansion of the Lake Street 'El' into the Austin neighborhood created friction with neighboring settlements in the township. Local politics turned ugly when the majority of Cicero Township’s residents voted for Austin’s annexation to Chicago in 1899. Despite this turn of events this new Chicago neighborhood was determined to maintain its own identity to the point of constructing its own town hall in 1929. The first settlers of the Austin neighborhood were Europeans (Scandinavian, Irish, German, and Italian), but the ethnic makeup of Austin has since changed. In fact, in the 1920s Austin had a sizable Greek population, but the demographics shifted again in the 1960s when the Eisenhower Expressway was constructed through the community, and there was a mass migration of the neighborhood’s original inhabitants to the suburbs. By the 1970s Austin was in a slump of slow economic growth, a decrease in commerce and industry, and an increase in poverty and crime. Today, the greater Austin neighborhood, which includes North and South Austin, is the largest neighborhood in Chicago, geographically and in terms of population. While the ethnic makeup of greater Austin has changed, with South Austin becoming predominantly an African-American community, North Austin has retained more of the ethnic makeup of the original settlers.
Despite years of slow economic growth in North Austin, the neighborhood seems to be experiencing revitalization. In recent years, two-thirds of the streets have been repaved, and neighborhood activist organizations, like the Organization for a Better Austin, are working toward further improvements.
North Austin is home to several tree-lined park spaces. We find that Galewood Park (5729 W. Bloomingdale Ave., 312-746-5089) is a great place for kids anywhere from elementary age through high school—and for us big kids, too. This park, named for the Galewood neighborhood directly to the west of North Austin, has classic amenities like a baseball diamond and basketball courts that are typically occupied on nice summer days with North Austin residents and other local Chicagoans. Children also have the option to enroll in various inexpensive programs that will help with their future athletic skills—they can learn basketball techniques or football plays. Or, for the less sports-minded, the little ones can attend one of the park’s day camps or walking clubs. For those of us on the older side, we can get our cardiovascular workout from a friendly game at the park’s tennis courts or a brisk power walk along the foot trail.
Set near North Austin’s south end, LaFollette Park (1333 N Laramie Ave, 312-746-5316) was originally conceived by master landscape artist Jens Jensen in 1918 and was officially opened in 1926. From what we’ve seen, this Jensen guy really knew what he was doing, because LaFollette seems to have it all. Occupying 17 acres of neighborhood ground, this west side recreation spot has baseball and softball diamonds, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, and even horseshoe pits—not something us city dwellers see everyday. Plus, moms and pops with tots will appreciate the park’s two play areas that are sure to distract those little bundles of joy long enough to enjoy a latte, or just have a little time to yourself, under the shade of a nearby tree. LaFollete’s fieldhouse contains two gyms, as well as assembly rooms and an auditorium. The park also features paths for jogging, walking, fast-paced stroller-pushing or bicycling, and even a swimming pool for when we need a cool off on those long, hot summer days.
North Austin Real EstateNorth Austin is a notable Chicago neighborhood with the classic rows of quaint redbrick bungalows and traditional frame houses, sitting on moderate lots edged by discrete fences or tidy yards and trimmed with landscaped greenery. Housing in North Austin is inexpensive, and the neighborhood has been experiencing rebirth in recent years with some plans for new construction and renovations of older homes scattered about.
The majority of the houses in North Austin are detached single-family homes, but there are a handful of condominiums and multi-unit options which include low-rise brick buildings, second-story storefront apartments and even some newer model townhomes.
The average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family home is about $212,000, although there are plenty options in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. A place with two bedrooms around here sell for between $90,000 and $245,000, while bigger houses are valued at $230,000 on average, with the low end around $116,00 and the high end at $385,000.
Night on the Town
The south side is not the only side of Chicago where you can find good blues. As North Austin residents know, the 5105 Club (5105 W North Ave, 773-237-9490) is their neighborhood claim on Chicago’s signature sound. Although the outside of the club isn’t much to look at, we think it’s worth your while to take a step inside and chase the blues away with drink or two. The club’s mirrored decor and faux stone wallpaper gives it a down-to-earth—perhaps even down-home—feel. And we highly recommend catching old-school blues musician Tail Dragger who still performs at the club every Sunday night.
Getting AroundAs is the case of many Chicago neighborhoods, North Austin makes getting around—both within the‘hood and to other parts of the city—a simple, stress-free affair.
While the 'El' (the city’s train system named for its portions of elevated track) doesn’t get over to the North Austin neighborhood, the Chicago Transit Authority picks up the slack with several CTA bus lines. Hop the #72 North Avenue, which runs right down the middle of the neighborhood, and head east to the excitement of Wicker Park and Bucktown. Or keep on riding and you’ll end up at the lakefront and the city’s popular North Avenue Beach. The #70 Division Street bus will get you out to Oak Park (the site of Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and home), or take it east to the Blue and Red Line 'El' stops. A trip on the #85 Central Avenue route heads north to the Jefferson Park station of the Blue Line (where you can catch the 'El' to O’Hare International Airport). The #54 Cicero and the #54x Cicero Express bus go south, hitting three separate 'El' train stations: the Green, Blue and Pink lines.
When we want to head downtown or even out of town we find it convenient to use the Metra’s Milwaukee District West line. Catch it at the Hansen Park station (Parkside and Armitage avenues) for southwest bound service to downtown (where you can connect with other Metra trains to other destinations) or take their northwest bound train up to Elgin. The streets are wide in North Austin, and residents with their own vehicles will like that parking is not as restricted as in Chicago’s neighborhoods closer to the lake. For a short commute to the Loop or out to the western suburbs, shoot down the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290), which runs along the southern border of South Austin neighborhood.
School’s in Session
North Austin has many public 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. John Hay 1018 N Laramie Ave # 1 - (773) 534-6000 Leslie Lewis 1431 N Leamington Ave - (773) 534-3060 Ronald E McNair Academic School Center 4820 W Walton St - (773) 534-8980 Lewis Branch 5035 W North Ave - (773) 534-3370 Kipp Ascend Charter School 1616 South Avers Ave - (773) 521-4399 www.kippascend.org
Below is a short list of some places in North Austin that will help you cover those basic needs.
North Austin Branch 5724 W North Ave - (312) 746-4233
North Pulaski Branch 4300 W North Ave - (312) 744-9573
5001 W Division St (800) ASK-USPS
Curves 5034 W North Ave - (773) 622-0409
Davis Park 5427 W Division St - (312) 746-5316
De George Playlot Park 4901 W Wabansia Ave - (312) 742-PLAY
Galewood Park 5729 W Bloomingdale Ave - (312) 746-5089
La Follette Park 1333 N Laramie Ave - (312) 746-5316
Ursin Shoes 4113 West North Ave - (773) 772-0428
Marshall’s Washington Square, 4937 W North Ave - (773) 342-863
Old Navy 4905 W North Ave - (773) 862-1774
Spanky’s Gyros 6026 W North Ave - (773) 745-8898
5105 Club 5105 W North Ave - (773) 237-9490
Carolyn’s Zodiac Lounge 1744 N Central Ave - (773) 804-9664
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. North Austin 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 North Austin.