North Center is a neighborhood on the rise with a well-kept residential area, a pleasant nightlife and an amiable antique shopping strip. From riverfront property on the west end to grand Victorian houses with wrap-around porches in the east, this Chicago neighborhood provides homebuyers with a wealth of desirable real estate options and more importantly, a place to call home. North Center is a nice balance of residential blocks and business sections. The restaurants are one-of-a-kind, putting a fantastic spin on the typical neighborhood cafes and family diners. Art and antique dealers join in with original works and creative furniture and home decor ideas. A local theater venue and a slew of cozy bars complete the package, making North Center a fine locale for everything you'd want in a Chicago neighborhood.
North Center Facts
Location: Approximately 5 miles north of downtown Chicago
Bordering Neighborhoods: Lakeview, Ravenswood, St. Ben's, Roscoe Village, Irving Park
Boundaries: Montrose Avenue to the north, Ravenswood Avenue to the east, Addison Street to the south, and the Chicago River to the west
Crime Statistics: go to CLEARMap for specific streets and areas of crime incidents
Then and Now
During the 1870s, the North Center neighborhood was only accessible by water via the Chicago River and by land via Lincoln Avenue, known at the time as Little Fork Road. In the later portion of the 1800s on through the early 1900s, roads were improved and the elevated train was extended making North Center easier to get to and subsequently more attractive to early settlers. Many European immigrants were drawn to the area and filled in the North Center neighborhood between two industrial districts, one to the east along Ravenswood Avenue and another on the west along the Chicago River, where most of the new residents worked.
Industry along the river proved especially important to the growth of Chicago. Clay was farmed from these banks in order to fulfill the high demand for brick buildings in the city after the Great Fire of 1871 inspired regulations against further wood frame construction. This boom in residential construction throughout Chicago carried over into North Center's history, resulting in a steady rise in population in the area. However, new residents began to protest the existence of the noisy and unattractive clay pits, which were eventually shut down and supplanted with landfills. Over time these landfills have all been replaced with thriving riverside businesses, housing, and the neighborhood's Revere Park.
Between 1940 and 1990
the neighborhood population dropped almost 40 percent, but the numbers are
returning as area properties and businesses are restored and reestablished.
Today, North Center is a vibrant family-based community where many generations
have stayed through the years of fluctuation.
There is one good-size park within the boundaries of North Center that draws residents and neighboring locals to its open green space and recreation facilities: Revere Park (2509 W. Irving Park, 773 478 1220). Occupying a section of North Center just east of the Chicago River on Irving Park Road, Revere used to be a brick factory-one of many manufacturing plants that were built along the river in the late 19th century.
In 1917, the River Park District Commissioner, John O'Shea, pushed the city's Park Board to take over the industrialized land, which he considered an 'eye-sore' to the community. To O'Shea's delight, the Chicago Park District acquired the property in 1921 and even named the new addition in honor of the park activist, calling the area O'Shea Park. But the glory was short lived for O'Shea because five years later the River Park District chose to dedicate the north Center park to Paul Revere and changed its name to Revere Park. The original landowner's cottage was converted into a fieldhouse and used for recreation purposes until it was replaced with a building for the Boy's Club in the 1960's.
Over the past 80
years, the North Center park has seen numerous changes and additions. Today there are four
tennis courts, four baseball diamonds, a gym, and an auditorium. Many programs
for kids and adults take place year-round and baseball, soccer, and even rugby
leagues are offered. Visual arts classes are available as well as a club for
deaf and hard-of-hearing teenagers, consisting of sports, dancing, and more.
North Center Real Estate
North Center real estate is diverse, from riverfront property on the west end to Victorians with wrap-around porches in the east. Mixed in with some older architecture exists a lot of newly constructed properties. More and more, aging apartment buildings are being converted into updated condos. Renovations are at a constant here, all the while keeping intact many of the beautifully crafted homes occupying spacious lots-that nowadays would typically house two separate residences.
Trees are abundant along both residential and busy commercial streets, giving the North Center neighborhood a grand, long-established presence boasting natural beauty and class. The cost of houses here are particularly less than in other north side Chicago neighborhoods that are closer to the lake or the Loop. But their value does continue to rise, and many of the North Center homes provide amenities such as single and double car garages-a luxury those downtown residences don't often see.
Check out our North Center Home Sales Statistics to get an idea of the real estate market trends in this neighborhood.
What's on the Menu?
This north side Chicago neighborhood features a diverse mix of restaurants-both new and old-that are sure to cure those pesky hunger pains.
Sola (3868 N. Lincoln, 773 327 3868) is North Center's upscale restaurant, which dishes out an appetizing menu of contemporary American food with Asian and Hawaiian twists. This neighborhood favorite serves a solid lineup of brunch, lunch, and dinner fare, and their dessert list does not fall short either. Unique entrees such as tofu steak, miso black cod, or honua stir-fry are excellent choices for first-timers and regulars alike. We're not the only ones who think this north side eatery is a Chicago hotspot-upon opening, Chicago Magazine picked Sola as one of the city's best new restaurants. So if you've never been, shine up the shoes, throw on a jacket and get yourself a date, because this is the type of dining that you'll want to share with someone special.
For a little bit of Deutschland in the North Center neighborhood, check out Laschet's Inn (2119 W Irving Park Rd, 773-478-7915). Laschet's started as a German, neighborhood bar with Schlitz beer on tap. Then, in 1971, Karl Laschet bought the tavern and the place became known as a spot for good beer and lots of fun in a German atmosphere. In 1991, Franz and Ursula Kokott bought the business and poured their efforts into preserving the German heritage of the place, and in 2000 the kitchen opened with a fantastic menu of authentic German cuisine. Ownership changed one more time in 2007, and Matt and Mannie Lodge added a sidewalk cafe and expanded the dining area. Today, the restaurant is still dedicated to good German food and a good time. Diners say that "the Hungarian Goulash with red cabbage and spatzle is phenomenal." And you'll want to peruse the beer menu, because it is stocked with favorites and amazing beers!
If you love German cuisine, you'll also want to head down the way a bit to Resi's Bierstube (2034 W Irving Park Rd, 773-472-1749). Called by diners a "German Gem," the decor calls to mind a German ski lodge with kitschy signs everywhere. The menu pulls on twists on German classics and this is a great North Center restaurant to go and have a German beer. Adding to the fun? A beer garden, just perfect for an Oktoberfest brew.
With a mission to provide casual, comfortable and sustainable cuisine, Browntrout (4111 N Lincoln Ave, 773-472-4111) is a wonderful place to enjoy a fabulous meal. Kids eat free everyday from 5 pm- 7 pm (with the purchase of an adult entree), which is good news if you're packing a little one. With a menu full of local and sustainable ingredients, Browntrout supports local agriculture and produces amazing meals. For example, the Bacon Butterske Macaroni and Cheese amps up a classic to something ambrosial.
If you're in the mood for a different kind of fish, Anna's Asian Grill & Sushi Bar (1804-06 W. Irving Park Rd, 773-975-3404) has what you are looking for. The menu has a careful balance of grill and sushi items, including the Chicago famous stuffed avocado. Beautiful presentation and an elegant atmosphere wrap up a wonderful North Center dining experience. Sticky Rice (4018 N Western Ave, 773-588-0133) offers Thai food based on the cuisine from the Northern region of the country. Visitors love the king prawns in curry sauce, calling it "absolutely delicious." Other Thai spots nearby: Namo Thai Cuisine (3900 N Lincoln Ave, 773-327-8818) and Royal Thai Restaurant (2209 W Montrose, 773-509-0007).
Best Shopping Stops
While you won't find an extensive mall in this north side Chicago neighborhood, you will find a few cute little places where you'll be able to score something you can't find anywhere else.
One such spot is Homey Gallery (3656 N. Lincoln, 773 248 0050). This is just the place in the North Center neighborhood when searching for that perfect piece of art to bring a room together. Varying in style and taste, the studio provides masterful photographs and paintings from all over the world that are sure to suit any art-lovers likings. Homey also helps residents bring a patio, yard or garden to life with a selection of sleek fountains and sculptures. Another spot to find the perfect piece is Neighborly (2003 W Montrose Ave, 773-840-2456). Filled with high-quality, handcrafted pieces, you're sure to find something that will get you lots of compliments.
If you love a cute little boutique, get out your wallet because you are going to love Embellish Chicago (4161 N Lincoln Ave, 773-525-4400). Dedicated to offering unique, independent and different items, this North Center boutique stocks many pieces from independent and local artists. With constantly rotating stock, there is always something new and exciting to fall in love with.
Down the street a bit
you'll find Bellybum Boutique (4347
N Lincoln Ave, 773-868-0944), the perfect place to fulfill your baby
dreams. Stocked with adorable baby items
and featuring stock for sensory kids, the items are designed to help children
use all their senses as they develop.
Night on the Town
For live music in North Center, the number one venue is Martyrs' (3855 N. Lincoln, 773 404 9494) where the acts range from rockabilly to Irish. Tables throughout the room are decorated in honor of late musicians like Kurt Cobain, who led short, troubled lives trying to balance between fame brought on by their musical talents and the normalcy they once knew. In addition to rockin' stage performances, Martyrs' serves pizza, sandwiches, hummus, and more to music-loving patrons up until a couple hours before they close. The room itself is of a decent size, where concert goers can either get up-close-and-personal with the bands-hanging out by the stage and dancing-or sit off to the side enjoying the show from a slight distance.
The Brownstone Tavern & Grill (3937 N. Lincoln, 773 528 3700) is a charming North Center spot for a drink with beautiful interior wood accents lit by chandeliers, candles and lamps. Tall windows run the length of the room, looking out onto the beer garden, which accommodates more than 50 people at a time. Many classic brews are available behind the mahogany bar, including Stella Artois, Harp and Fat Tire. The menu offers a variety of reasonably priced sandwiches and wraps, and appetizers come in huge portions- it's a great place for sharing food while knocking back a few. For all the University of Texas fans and alumni in the city, this is your place to connect and reminisce about the college days while watching the games on the numerous flat screen TVs. The North Center tavern offers weekly drawings for alumni where the winner gets a party paid for by the Brownstone!
When The Globe Pub (1934 W. Irving Park, 773 871 3757) opened, it turned a North Center bar that was not much to speak of into an oak-trimmed British pub with great atmosphere and noteworthy beer selection. For the rugby or soccer fan, the Globe is a dream come true. MLS and European league soccer games are always televised here along with the American sporting traditions: baseball, basketball, football, etc. The pub opens early for big games, always offering English breakfast to kick off the excitement. The rest of the menu consists of traditional hearty pub food, such as shepherd's pie and fish & chips, and the 20 or so beers on tap range from Boddington's to Heineken. Every Monday night the Globe hosts an open mic comedy night- so bring your best jokes and your best buds for the best experience.
For a great, locally brewed pint you will love head over to Half Acre Brewing Company (4255 N Lincoln Ave, 773-248-4038). A stylish, modern space with communal tables sets the stage for a great time, and the beers are always worth a glance. A big favorite is the Daisy Cutter IPA, but smaller sizes are offered in case you want to try a little bit of everything.
Known as a true Chicago neighborhood bar, G&L Fire Escape (2157 W Grace Ave, 773-472-1138) combines a great atmosphere with great prices and it equals a great time. You can order dinner and have it delivered to the bar, and the bartenders are friendly and prone to welcoming regulars by first name. An extensive beer list and reasonable prices complete the package at this North Center bar. Another great neighborhood find is the Windy City Inn (2257 W Irving Park Rd, 773-588-7088). With quarter wings every day, this is a great spot to gather to watch a Cubs game and chill with neighborhood regulars.
Mark Your Calendar
North Side Summerfest in August is an event designed to celebrate the best of summer. Great food, a lineup of the area's best bands, and a big section of arts and crafts make this a North Center street fair to remember. This party sends summer out in style, as families and friends get to gather in North Center for one great party.
Ribfest Chicago in June is located at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park. Imagine three days packed with fun, great music, and all the ribs you can eat. It sounds like a dream, but Ribfest is for real. A full line-up of bands, a Kids Square packed with activities, and over 65,000 pounds of ribs guarantee an excellent experience. All of this can be yours for a suggested $5 donation.
Due to its smaller size and less busy streets, it's quite simple to take the bike out for a spin and get to where you need to go within North Center neighborhood. Likewise, when it comes to driving, traffic doesn't get very congested, so it's typically easy and quick to take your car for errands around the area. However, during morning and evening rush hours, slow-downs do occur at the Western/Addison and Western/Irving Park intersections. Permit parking zones are few and far between in North Center, so both residents and visitors should have no problem finding a spot to leave the car. For commuting and intra-city journeys, ramps to the Kennedy Expressway are just a couple of miles west.
The bus routes also make for convenient travel with a handful of routes running through the neighborhood. Both the #49 and #50 head north/south-one along Western Avenue and the other on Damen Avenue. For east/wes routes hop on the #80 Irving Park, the #78 Montrose, or the #152 Addison. The CTA Brown Line elevated train (known to Chicagoans as the 'El') stops at Addison Street, Irving Park Road, and Montrose Avenue transporting North Center residents to destinations throughout the city.
School's in Session
There are a couple of North Center schools where residents of the neighborhood can send their pre-school and school-aged children, but for more information on schools in the vicinity and other Chicago neighborhoods, visit our Chicago Guide Schools page
Alexander Graham Bell Elementary
3730 N. Oakley - (773) 534 5150
John C. Coonley Elementary 4064 N Leavitt St - (773) 534-5140
St. Benedict's Elementary and High School 3900 N Leavitt St - (773) 588-6484
Thresholds High School 4219 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 537-3032
Elementary School 2017 W Montrose Ave - (773) 327-3144
Pilgrim Lutheran School 4300 W Winchester Ave - (773) 477-4824
To help you out, we've added a list of neighborhood places where you can get your essential needs, from a dozen eggs to a double-time aerobics workout, and everything in between.
Chicago Transit Authority (888) 968 7282
3635 N. Lincoln (800) ASK USPS 2011 W. Montrose (800) ASK USPS
Best Buy Food & Liquors 1832 W Montrose Ave - (773) 271-3442
N. Lincoln - (773) 472-6171
Trader Joe's 3745 N. Lincoln - (773) 248 4920
Aldi 2431 W. Montrose
A&L Grocer 2154 W Addison St - (773)537-4498
Curves 4351 N. Lincoln - (773) 935 5650
Thrive Fitness 1965 W Montrose Ave - (773) 789-8980
Ravenswood Fitness Center 1958 W Montrose Ave - (773) 784-0732
Strictly Fit 4016 N Lincoln Ave -(773) 348-8025
Motiv Personal Training 3813 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 675-1420
IK Gymnastics 4351 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 935-5650
Personal Fitness 3845 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 857-3112
Body Sense 2110 W Irving Park Rd -(773) 583-8222
Waveland Bowl 3700 N. Western - (773) 472 5902
Timber Lanes Bowling Center 1851 W. Irving Park - (773) 549 9770
Katerina's 1920 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 348-7592
The Moth Story Slams 3855 N Lincoln Ave
Ravenswood Community Orchestra 2219 W Irving Park Rd - (708) 945-5397
Klein Artist Works 3855 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 404-9494
Lincoln Lodge 4008 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 251-1539
Windy City Inn 2257 W
Irving Park Rd - (773) 588-7088
Chicago Fret Works 4229 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 698-6246
Embellish Chicago 4161 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 525-4400
Coles Appliance & Furniture Company 4026 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 525-1797
Hazel 1902 W Montrose Ave - (773) 769-2227
The Needle Shop 3738 N Lincoln Ave
Isle of Man 3856 N Lincoln Ave-(773) 697-8035
Knit 1 3823 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 244-1646
Hazel Apparel 1926 W Montrose Ave - (773) 904-7779
Tilly Boutique 4164 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 744-9566
Neighborly 2003 W Montrose Ave - (773) 840-2456
Laschet's Inn 2119 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 478-7915
Gannon's Pub 4264 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 281-1007
Tiny Lounge 4352 N Leavitt St -(773) 463-0396
The Bad Apple 4300 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 360-8406
Black Rock 3614 N. Damen - (773) 348 4044
Brownstone Tavern & Grill 3937 N. Lincoln - (773) 528 3700
The Globe 1934 W. Irving Park - (773) 871 3757
Foley's Bar & Grill 1841 W. Irving Park - (773) 929 1210
Celtic Crown 4301 N. Western - (773) 588 1110
Wild Goose Bar & Grill 4265 N. Lincoln - (773) 281 7112
Browntrout 4111 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 472-4111
Sola 3868 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 327-3868
Martyrs' 3855 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 404-9494
Marmalade 1969 W Montrose St - (773) 883-9000
M & G Char Grill 1821 W Irving Park - (773) 327-7088
O'Donovan's 2100 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 478-2100
Smokin' Woody's 4160
N Lincoln Ave - (773) 880-1100
I-Cafe Sukur's Place 1814 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 755-4022
Mrs. Murphy and Son Irish Bistro 3905 N. Lincoln - (773) 248 390
Cork Lounge 1822 W Addison St - (773) 404-5318
Melao Latin Cuisine 3941 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 868-4501
Borinquen Lounge 3811 N Western Ave - (773) 442-8001
Taqueria El Asadero 2213 W Montrose Ave - (773) 583-5563
Fast Super Burrito Mexican Grill 1924 W Irving Park - (773) 248-4081
El Torito Restaurant & Taqueria 1825 W Montrose Ave - (773) 929-5404
Anna's Asian Grill & Sushi Bar 1804-06 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 975-3404
Sticky Rice 4018 N Western Ave - (773)588-0133
Sola 3868 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 327-3868
Thai Room Restaurant 4022 N Western Ave - (773) 539-6150
Restaurant 2209 W Montrose Ave - (773) 509-0007
Orange Garden 1942 W. Irving Park - (773) 525 7479
Wasabi Cafe 3908 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 698-6252
The residential real estate in North Center is fairly diverse, providing homeowners with a number of housing options from condos to lofts to townhomes. But there is more to your North Center home than where you rest your head at night. The area surrounding a property can be just as much a factor in the decision to buy as the color of the carpet or the condition of the foundation. Each Chicago neighborhood has its own unique charm that sets it apart from the rest. Our comprehensive online guide is all you need to explore the many streets of Chicago all from the comfort of your own computer. Shopping, dining, entertainment, schools, you name it, we'll show you where it is. Find out whether that fabulous North Center condo is immersed in the throes of wild nightlife, or veiled by the tranquility of a quiet residential setting. Like Metromix and the MLS merged into one, this site is your one-stop shop for Chicago neighborhood information.