North Kenwood / Kenwood
This classy south side Chicago neighborhood is rapidly reviving itself to its former glory. Once coined the “Lake Forest of the South Side,” Kenwood is flanked with landmark buildings and breathtaking homes designed by influential architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright. Kenwood is associated with another name that has gained worldwide recognition in recent years, Barack Obama. He and his family live in the upscale section of the neighborhood where million-dollar properties are the norm. Other areas of Kenwood offer more affordable real estate in the way of condominiums and three-bedroom single-family houses. Along with a growing commercial district, Kenwood has established itself as a center for the arts. A couple design and art galleries are located in the community, supplying residents and other Chicagoans with venues to exhibit their creative talents and educational opportunities to fine tune those artistic skills.
Location: about 6 miles south of the Loop
Boundaries: 47th Street to the north, Lake Shore Drive to the east, 51st Street to the south and South Drexel Boulevard to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Washington Park, Oakland
Then and Now
The community of Kenwood, located about six miles south of downtown Chicago, ranks as one the city’s best examples of premier architecture from the earlier part of the 20th century. The old school 'McMansions' of Kenwood give us a glimpse of the neighborhood’s former elite status that flourished in the early 1900s.
The area’s earliest European settler, Dr. John A. Kennicott, constructed a sprawling weekend getaway in 1856 and called it Kenwood—named after his mother’s hometown in Scotland. In 1871, the Chicago Fire further ignited the residential development of the small community as folks moved to the outer reaches of the city for real estate undamaged by the fire’s wrath. Within a few years, super-sized homes were a common fixture in the south side neighborhood. An interesting—and creepy—tidbit of history: infamous murderers Leopold and Loeb, both from affluent families and students of the prestigious University of Chicago, lived in Kenwood, as did their victim Bobby Franks who was killed 1924.
By 1919 Kenwood’s glory days had reached their peak, and the period following saw the area quickly falling into decline as many of the vacated single-family homes were converted to multi-family apartments. Three decades later, Kenwood had evolved from a white-collar neighborhood to a working-class one as it embraced newly arrived immigrants (during the post World War II population surge) and low-income, mainly African American families. It wasn’t until the 1960s, a decade after the birth of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC), an organization made up of local residents, that action to save the decaying community took place.
It would take Kenwood another 30 years before the neighborhood witnessed a noticeable shift from the disheartening scene of numerous vacant lots and neglected buildings. Today, Kenwood’s ambitious urban renewal plan is rapidly restoring itself to meet the needs of a new generation of residents made up of working professionals.
Kenwood hosts two parks within its neighborhood boundaries offering residents a place to stretch the legs and enjoy the outdoors. We all could use a nice stroll in the park every once in a while, especially when the weather decides to thaw out. Sweet little Madison Park (on the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 50th Street, just north of Hyde Park Avenue) is only one of three private parks in Chicago. Being as it’s not part of the Chicago Park district we head a few blocks north to Kenwood Community Park (1330 E 50th St, 312-747-6286).
If you’re looking to get closer to nature, grab a buddy and take a power walk or meander leisurely with your family along the half-mile walking trail at Kenwood Community Park. This kid-friendly neighborhood recreation spot was fully acquired by the city in 1944 and was designated 'in Trust for the Use of Schools.' Today, it offers baseball diamonds, playgrounds with a jungle gym, horseshoe courts, and a spray pool that’s perfect for the little ones to splash around in and keep cool on those hot summer days. Speaking of summer, it’s an ideal time of year for Wimbledon hopefuls to practice their backhand at the Kenwood Park tennis courts. And during the winter season you’ll find the ice-skating rink on the park’s grounds is a neighborhood favorite for frosty fun. Little Leagues baseball teams and day camp programs are also offered here throughout the warm weather months.
North Kenwood / Kenwood Real Estate
Nestled among tree-lined streets, the time-honored mansions of yore retain their elegant presence in this historic south side Chicago neighborhood. While many of the older Kenwood homes that have been restored have been designated historical landmark buildings, a number have also been converted into condominium units with all the modern amenities including granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and heated marble bathroom floors. And, new residential developments are tastefully integrating with the early 20th century architectural styles of their long-established neighbors.
Kenwood neighborhood has one of the best collections of residential architecture in the city. Designs range from classic asymmetrical rooflines of the Queen Anne style, to Frank Lloyd Wright’s modern edifices from the Prairie School. You’ll even catch a glimpse of stately Georgian hybrids, known as Colonial Revival. And we’ve always been big fans of the ornate archways characterized by the school of Italianate and reminiscent of Italian villas—not surprisingly, Kenwood has got that, too.
While you’re in the neighborhood take a walking tour down to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Headquarters (930 E 50th St, 773-373-3366) that’s housed in a landmark building constructed in 1924. Or get a glimpse of Malcolm X’s buddy, Louis Farrakhan’s home (4855 S Woodlawn Ave), massive in size for a city pad, and ornate in architectural design. Drexel Square Park (between 51st Street and 39th Street) is a pedestrian-friendly walkway in the middle of the unusually quiet Drexel Boulevard. You’ll be awestruck by the structures before you, especially when you lay your eyes on the oldest surviving fountain in the city that dates back to the Victorian era—a time that gave rise to many artistic styles due to economic prosperity brought on by the industrial revolution.
The many South Kenwood Mansions, between Dorchester and Ellis avenues (as far south as Hyde Park Boulevard and as far north as 47th Street) will take your breath away. Their monsterous size and sprawling grounds edged by flawless landscaping reminds us of the wealth and ingenuity that prospered in Kenwood at the beginning of America’s modern times.
Today, the average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family detached home in Kenwood is about $500,000. For four to five bedrooms, you’ll be looking to pay in the neighborhood of $638,000 on average, with the low end around $285,000 and the high end at $1.4 million. For the mansions with six or more bedrooms, the average sales price is $1,460,000, with many of them valued at 2.5 to 3 million dollars.
But let’s face it—most of us don’t need that much space. In that case, a condominium might be more our style. The average sales price for one-bedroom attached housing, or condo, around here is $132,000 (the low end is under $100,000 and the high end is $340,000). A two-bedroom costs around $209,000 on average, reaching close to $400,000 for rehabbed units and upgraded amenities.
What’s On the Menu?
The restaurant selection in Kenwood is not quite as extensive as its immediate neighbor to the south (Hyde Park), but you do have some diversity in dining out.
More often than not, we all need our regular dose of chow mein or egg foo young to make our at-home movie nights worthwhile. Thankfully, the quintessential Chinese take-out is available at Fung’s Chop Suey (1400 E 47th St, 773-924-2328). Order from Fung’s and in no time you’ll be skillfully munching out of white carryout boxes with your chop sticks. If you’re craving some downhome southern cooking from the grill, Kenny’s Ribs & Chicken (1461 E Hyde Park Blvd., 773-241-5550) should satisfy your craving. Kenny’s has a Chicago classic—the Hotlinks dog: spicy Italian style sausage served on good old-fashioned, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth white bread. Seafood fanatics have their selection of fried jumbo shrimp or filet of catfish accompanied with coleslaw and fries. This local chain eatery is carry out or delivery only—so maybe next time we rent a movie, we’ll swing by Kenny’s for our munchies.
Lake Shore Cafe (4900 S Lake Shore Drive, 773-288-5800) offers a combination of southern cooking, soul food, and classic Americana dishes like grilled salmon with your choice of lemon dill or barbeque sauce. And it wouldn’t really be 'southern' if the menu didn’t offer fried chicken and blackened catfish, which it does. If you enjoy a large hotel banquet ambiance—this is that place. Lake Shore Cafe hosts parties as large as 300 people, so if you’re planning that really big extended family reunion this year, keep this south side culinary mainstay in mind.
Living in Chicago without a local pizza joint in your neighborhood is unheard of—in Kenwood you can choose from Italian Fiesta Pizzeria (1400 E 47th St, 773-924-5339) for the more traditional pies and Domino’s (1453 E Hyde Park Blvd., 773-324-3800) for those nights you host game-watching parties when a lot of pizza—and beer—is essential.
The Kenwood breakfast and weekend brunch scene is concentrated at the Original Pancake House (1517 E Hyde Park Blvd., 773-288-2322). Order up your favorite pancake/waffle and bacon/sausage combination anytime of the day or evening. The comfy wear and tear of the retro style booths add to its overall kitschy diner flare.
Best Shopping Stops
While it’s no Michigan Avenue, Kenwood’s modest retail assortment is making its way into the large scale urban renewal and providing residents with a respectable mix of shopping right in their own backyard.
At the moment South Shore Decor (1328 E 47th St, 773-373-3116) and Reginald Women’s Apparel (1648 E 50th St, 773-324-5520) are about the only two notable fashion retailers in Kenwood. South Shore Decor is the spot for the do-it-yourself home improvement junkie. They’ve got an impressive selection of wallpaper and other essential decorating supplies ready for a make-over throw down. Reginald’s Apparel is the place to go for business casual outfits for women at the low to medium price point. What Kenwood lacks in retail clothing and home furnishing shops, it makes up for in the music department.
Coop’s Records (1350 E 47th St, 773-238-2566), formerly owned by Mr. T—yes, the 'I pity the fool...,' mohawk-sporting, chain-draped, tough guy from the 'A Team' Mr. T. The current owner, Mr. Ezell Cooper, hence the name 'Coop’s,' took ownership in 1986. Considered one of the top independent retailers in the Midwest, Coop’s music spurs a 'Who’s Who' list of celebrity guest appearances from artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keys, P. Diddy and Destiny’s Child. Some of whom have performed on Coop’s in-house stage, but most of them stop by just to promote their latest CD. In addition to Hip-Hop, Coop’s music anthology covers jazz, R&B, alternative rock and blues. Special orders are made on request if what you’re looking for isn’t available at any of Coop’s three locations. A related side note: A large part of this south side Chicago music store’s success is credited to Mr. Cooper’s son who created Coop’s Underground, which focuses primarily on music for younger generations and also houses a stage for visiting artists to perform their latest material.
Did you ever get around to taking that ceramics class or glass blowing course while in school? Are you in need of a creative outlet, or just wanting some artsy group activity? Look no further...it’s all here for you in Kenwood.
Don’t let the name fool you, Hyde Park Art Center (5020 S Cornell Ave, 773-324-5520) is located within the boundaries of the Kenwood neighborhood. The oldest alternative exhibition space in Chicago, the HPAC offers a number of exhibits, performances, readings, discussions, and educational programs to Kenwood locals and residents of surrounding communities. If you’re an artist, teacher, collector, or student, HPAC sponsors art mentorship programs that foster a collective spirit of creativity within the neighborhood and with the public at large.
Kenwood’s newest pride and joy is Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center (1480 E 47th St, 773-285-1211), situated in a state-of-the-art facility that showcases a two-story 3,327-square-foot glass atrium that’s like stepping into a post-modern Roman Cathedral. The Center offers innovative art instruction for both children and adults. We always thought it would be cool to learn how to blow glass—at Little Black Pearl, all you have to do is sign up for the class. Even the worst bubble-blowers will be making gorgeous glass baubles in no time. Other hands-on instruction includes mosaic design, ceramics and woodworking. You might want to check out their courses for the 'business of art' which focuses on developing entrepreneurial and business management skills in arts administration. They’ve also got great after school and summer camp programs for the kids. Oh, and if you’re looking for a way to impress 400 of your closest friends and family, or you need a place to promote your business, Little Black Pearl has rental space for private parties, concerts, and meetings.
Free street parking is a luxury that most urban dwellers on Chicago’s north side know nothing about, but Kenwood’s spacious streets have ample room for any size ride. If you’re looking to buy property, most condo units come with a gated parking spot and single-family homes usually have an attached garage and private driveway. Access to Lake Shore Drive from Kenwood neighborhood is a few stoplights away at 47th Street where you can easily connect to the Stevenson Expressway (I-55), the Dan Ryan Expressway (I- 90/94), and the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) in a matter of minutes.
Car-less south side urbanites can catch the Green Line train, but it runs several blocks west of the Kenwood border on Calumet Avenue, with stops at 47th and 51st streets. Have no fear, the Metra Electric Line (Chicago’s main commuter line to and from the suburbs) picks up the slack with a station at 47th Street near Lake Park Avenue, which takes you right into Millennium Station, formerly known as the Randolph Street Station on Michigan Avenue between Water and Randolph Street.
Over a dozen CTA bus lines also pass through and by Kenwood neighborhood, giving residents another travel option that we think is often the most convenient. And if you’re in a hurry to get to the Loop, the Jeffrey Express takes you into the heart of downtown. Catch it, and other routes, at the bus terminal on 47th Street and Lake Park Avenue.
School’s in Session
Kenwood’s school selection is top of the class. It offers everything from public charter schools (one in particular is sponsored by the University of Chicago), to an award winning magnet high school, in addition to the private elementary. You can find more information on Kenwood’s educational facilities and other Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page
Ancona Montessori 4770 S Dorchester Ave - (773) 924-2356 Ariel Community Academy 4434 S Lake Park Ave - (773) 535-1996 Ariel Community Academy 1119 E 46th St - (773) 535-1996 Childrens House at Harper Square 4800 S Lake Park Ave - (773) 373-3000
Creative Mansion Children’s Academy 4745 S Ellis Ave - (773) 268-6068 Martin Luther King Jr. High 4445 S Drexel Blvd - (773) 535-1180
Florence B. Price Elementary 4351 S Drexel Blvd - (773) 535-1300
Kenwood Academy Magnet High School 5015 S Blackstone Ave - (773) 535-1350
Miriam Canter Middle School 4959 S Blackstone Ave - (773) 535-1410
N. Kenwood/Oakland Middle (Sponsored by University of Chicago), 1014 E 47th St - (773) 373-7311
Shoesmith Elementary 1330 E 50th St - (773) 535-1764 St Ambrose Elementary 1014 E 47th St - (773) 373-7311
The Harvard School - 4731 S Ellis Ave - (773) 624-0394
Basic NeedsNo matter where you live, there are those necessities that you don’t know you need until you need them—we have listed a sampling of Kenwood neighborhood stores and services to lead you in the right direction.
Walgreens 1320 E 47th St - (773) 373-6132
Village Foods 1521 E Hyde Park Blvd - (773) 288-8180
Blackstone Public Library 4904 S Lake Park Ave - (312) 747-0511
Bally Total Fitness 1301 E 47th St - (773) 924-9889
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Coop’s Records 1350 E 47th St - (773) 238-2566
Reginald Women’s Apparel 1648 E 50th St - (773) 324-5520
South Shore Decor 1328 E 47th St - (773) 373-3116
Kenny’s Ribs & Chicken 1461 E Hyde Park Blvd - (773) 241-5550
Lake Shore Cafe 4900 S Lake Shore Drive - (773) 288-5800
The Original Pancake House 1517 E Hyde Park Blvd - (773) 288-2322
Fung’s Chop Suey 1400 E 47th St - (773) 924-2328
Istria Cafe 5020 S Cornell Ave - (773) 324-5520
Domino’s 1453 E Hyde Park Blvd - (773) 324-3800
Italian Fiesta Pizzeria 1400 E 47th St - (773) 924-5339
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Kenwood offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Kenwood homes include lofts, condos and townhomes, to name a few. In addition to Chicago real estate, you can get detailed neighborhood information from our comprehensive online Chicago neighborhoods guide. With features like dining, shopping, entertainment, and resources, we’ve done all the leg work already to make your home search that much easier. Now, when a listing in Kenwood catches your eye, you can read all about the surrounding area and what it has to offer, all without setting foot in the neighborhood. Like a Yellow Pages, Metromix and MLS database all rolled into one, this site is your ultimate Chicago neighborhoods visitors’ guidebook.