Home to Northeastern Illinois University and a mere 10 miles north of the Chicago Loop, North Park is an academically active neighborhood with a family focus. Bound by the North Shore Channel and the North Branch of the Chicago River, North Park has the remote feel of a peaceful suburb with the added benefit of a short commute to downtown. For the most part, North Park's residential streets are dominated by traditional, brick bungalows and historic homes. There are some condos and townhouses in the neighborhood that attract area students and young couples. Laid-back bakeries, cafes and eateries abound in this part of Chicago, although you won't be hard up for a good Swedish meatball or Asian noodle dish if that's what you crave.
North Park Facts
Location: Approximately 10 miles north of the Loop
Boundaries: Bryn Mawr Avenue to the north, the Chicago River to the east, Foster Avenue to the south and Central Park Avenue to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: Hollywood Park, Budlong Woods, Albany Park, Peterson Park Grounds, Ravenswood
Then and Now
In the late 1850s, German and Swedish farmers settled the land in the fork between the North Shore Channel and the North Branch of the Chicago River. Interestingly, where these two waterways meet is Chicago’s only waterfall, albeit a modest one with a mere four-foot drop. Regardless of its size, the waterfall provided serene and verdant surroundings for successful cultivation of a homestead and farmland. Early immigrants used the dried-up riverbeds for vegetable gardening and a placid, remote community evolved at the site.
In 1894, construction of North Park University began on 8.5 acres of land donated by the Swedish University Association of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant. The small town slowly replaced existing dirt paths with planned cobblestone streets. A sanitation system was created by installing sewer pipes, and boardwalks were laid to give the little North Park community the feeling of an upstart town. All the while, the university was slowly being built. While tremendous advancements were being made, the evolution of North Park proceeded gradually because by 1910 the neighborhood population didn’t exceed 500.
Things began to pick up with the onset of the 1920s, and the first low-rise flats and apartments started to appear in the neighborhood. Soon thereafter, North Park began to rapidly grow. In fact, its population tripled by 1930, as a residential haven of two-flats and bungalows took shape.
After World War II, America’s economy was booming and so was North Park. The suburban-esque respite hit its highpoint in the mid 1960s. With the move of Northeastern Illinois University into the northeast corner of the community and the long-established North Park University in the southeast corner, plenty of students and faculty made the neighborhood their home filling the air with a scholastic awareness that seeped into all aspects of North Park’s existence. In addition, the nearby Swedish Covenant Hospital, established in 1886, continued to draw residents and professionals into the area. It is this continual flow of folks from the academic and hospital sectors that has created a thriving yet stable Chicago neighborhood that caters to people from all walks of life.
Kickin’ back and enjoying a sunny day with a little outdoor activity is easy to do in North Park. In addition to the grass-edged, tree-lined residential streets where North Park residents spend much of their time, this Chicago neighborhood has plenty of public park space that draws people out of their homes for some extra room to stretch the legs.
With over 48 acres of abundant greenery, Legion Park (3200 W Hollywood Ave, 312-742-7529) is one of the city’s larger parks. Founded in 1930 and named after returning World War I veterans, Legion Park starts way up in the neighborhood of Hollywood Park at Peterson Street and parallels the eastern edge of North Park until Foster Avenue (North Park’s southern border). So no matter where you live, all you have to do is head east and you’ll find yourself in the massive expanse of grass-covered landscape. In addition to the beautiful scenery, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and a plethora of playground equipment span the length of Legion Park. Ornamental fountains intermix with walking paths that are friendly to both pedestrians and cyclists. The river runs directly through Legion Park, giving residents access to paddleboats and scenic views. And once a month (weather permitting, of course), the quiet of summer evenings is broken with concerts in the park, alternating between world music and rock and roll.
North Park Real Estate
There’s an immediate charm and friendliness to the North Park neighborhood that makes you feel welcomed, whether you’re just moving in or have been here for decades.
Sandwiched between the picturesque parkland and riverbanks on the east and the quaint solitude of Bohemian National Cemetery on the west, North Park feels more suburban than it does cosmopolitan. A mix of middle and upper class families and young professionals and single working adults inhabit the mostly residential, tree-shaded streets of North Park. And with two major universities situated within the neighborhood borders, there is a hearty population of students spending their days in—and oftentimes living in—the community as well.
The majority of North Park is residential area dominated by single-family homes, but a limited number of condos and townhomes exist, catering especially to the student populace that is a vital part of the small neighborhood’s livelihood. Traditional bungalows mingle with historic homes, low-rise flats and newer condominiums.
The average sales price for a one- or two-bedroom condo or townhome is $195,000, but you should be able to find one for under $150,000. Two or three-bedroom units average around $340,000 in North Park. Detached single-family homes start at $335,000 for a three-bedroom. The average sales price for a house this size around here is about $430,000, but can reach into the $600,000s, with some five or six-bedroom properties selling for just under a million dollars.
What’s on the Menu?
North Park eateries are generally family-friendly and laid-back. There are plenty of places to grab a quick bite at an affordable price around here because the local universities bring tons of students—hungry for both knowledge and a square meal—to the neighborhood each day.
Somewhat hidden to outsiders on the side of a strip mall, the Carthage Cafe (3446 W Foster Ave, 773-539-9004) is a Mediterranean hookah bar with large windows and sun-drenched tables. Crème-colored rooms are decorated with tasteful wooden furniture and the occasional tasseled throw pillow. Open from lunch until 2:30 am, this coffee shop, hookah cafe and restaurant give North Park residents a little bit of everything they’re craving from afternoon to late evening (and it’s actually okay to sit and stay all day). The daily lunch specials run under $8, and when it comes to dinner you will definitely want to try the thick sliced lamb kebabs—a little more pricey, but worth the splurge. Vegetarians are well-suited at Carthage Cafe, too—the veggie sampler has everything from hummus to baba ghannouj to outstanding garlic spinach dip.
Some of the best hazelnut coffee in Chicago can be found in the North Park neighborhood at Schlegl’s Bakery and Cafe (3334 W Foster Ave, 773-539-9207). Using third generation recipes from the Bavarian Hills of Germany, Schlegl’s offers up cakes, tortes, croissants, morning sweet treats, and evening sugar rushes. The caramel pecan pull-apart coffee cake is great by the piece with a cup of coffee and a good book, but the best option is to buy the entire cake to take home and share with the family. Sit all day until the early evening when there are occasional end-of-the-day sales on pastries, since Schlegl’s makes everything fresh daily.
If you’re hungry for more than a sweet snack, Charcoal Delights (3139 W Foster Ave, 773-583-0056) is a bit classier than the McDonald’s across the street—but just barely, and that’s how we like it. The cheese steak delight is kind of like a Chicago-style Philly, with cheddar cheese, grilled onions and sweet peppers. Charcoal has been around for over 40 years and it’s easy to see why, what with the good service, great burgers and no rush to get you out the door. Right across the street from North Park University, Loree’s Restaurant (3232 W Foster Ave, 773-583-4978) has the feel of a coffee shop but the space of a family diner. Open from 7 am to 11 pm, Loree’s is run by a Thai family and their menu shows it; North Park students and local residents can get anything from spicy Asian dishes to good ole’ meatloaf. Save room for cheesecake and ice cream though, it goes good with the coffee while you sit and study.
The perfect place for a quick spring roll fix in this north side Chicago neighborhood is Hunan Wok (3411 W Bryn Mawr Ave, 773-539-9650). A family-owned buffet and restaurant, Hunan keeps prices affordable for all the students walking by in between classes. The buffet has all the rice, pork, beef, chicken and wonton standards, and it will cost about five bucks for lunch and under $10 for dinner. For those that aren’t crazy about buffets, Hunan has a standby menu and the garlic chicken is a definite must! Down the street, Mi Na Ri Oriental Restaurant (3311 W Bryn Mawr Ave, 773-267-3590) is small and is decorated with simple potted plants, large fish tanks, thin wooden screens, and plenty of Korean magazines scattered on the counter. The menu is bilingual—Korean and English—and the mandoo rice cake stew is a favorite among regulars. An entree will run under 10 bucks, but make sure not to go on a Sunday or you’ll be disappointed—Mi Na Ri is closed.
Taking it up a notch, sit down for a Swedish meal at family-owned Tre Kronor (3258 W Foster Ave, 773-267-9888). For over 20 years Tre Kronor has been one of the best little Swedish bistros in Chicago. Are you up for breakfast? The thick-sliced vanilla and orange French toast with a dash of cinnamon will put a hop into your step. For lunch, the baked onion soup and freshly made quiche will keep you going. Then at dinner, try the kychlingfile (chicken breast with Swedish mustard, Canadian bacon and fresh dill). Can you handle dessert? The cinnamon rolls with icing will leave you deliciously full and your sweet tooth happy for days.
Best Shopping Stops
North Park is more academic neighborhood than hip shopping district, but there are a few specialty stores. If you nose around the ivied campuses and along the main drags of Foster and Louis avenues, you’ll come across the best North Park shopping.
After you’ve had breakfast at Tre Kronor, head over to the Sweden Shop (3304 W Foster Ave, 773-478-0327). Sweden Shop is not your average gift shop. The best clogs in Chicago can be found here and some of the most interesting kitchen accessories, too—think stylish aprons, elegant serving dishes, and oddly shaped teapots. If the art of cooking isn’t where your creative talents shine, or you’d rather get something to accessorize yourself as opposed to your kitchen, Sweden has a whole section of knitting books and fabulous glass jewelry. Make yourself a sweater and then pick out the perfect colorful necklace to accent your handmade masterpiece. And if you are looking for just the right touch to accent your home decor, top off the coffee or dining table with fine flora from North Park’s Hankel’s Flowers (3310 W Foster Ave, 773-583-6200). Hankel’s is a small shop that is ideal for grabbing a quick bouquet for special occasions, a large arrangement for even more extraordinary get-togethers, or just a weekly splash of color added to a couple of counters.
The best inspirational bookstore in North Park neighborhood is Covenant Bookstore (3200 W Foster, 773-478-4647). This charming little storefront carries both classic and new titles in contemporary Christian living. In addition to a vast collection of bibles, they have a children’s section and a collection of inspirational nonfiction. Covenant even carries the latest and greatest in faith-based music. And make sure to check out their bargain bin for the best deals.
Mark Your Calendar
With two universities and the television studios of WTTW Chicago (PBS) located within the neighborhood, make sure to regularly check your calendar for the next up-coming event, because there is always something interesting going on somewhere in North Park.
The North Park neighborhood is the proud home to the WTTW Chicago Studios (5400 N St Louis Ave, 773-583-5000). The WTTW station provides intelligent, engaging public access television for adults and children. Since its first broadcast in 1955, WTTW has continually challenged and entertained Chicagoans through their enlightening programming. As they’ve grown, WTTW has tried to incorporate community action into its purpose. That said, events are continually held at the WTTW studios or nearby that encourage North Park residents and other locals to get involved. Do you ever watch 'Chicago Tonight?' Well, you can peek behind the scenes, see a live taping, and meet the crew of the popular show. Kids aren’t left out either! Usually once a month WTTW holds a 'Kids Scout Tour Day' where kids involved in scouting organizations (Girls Scouts, Boys Scouts, Brownies, etc) are invited to the studio for a free tour and introduction into the world of television. It’s best to check the event calendar at www.wttw.com for the latest updates on where and when things are happening.
Due to its small area, North Park is a breeze to travel through and around. As a mostly residential neighborhood, you can safely bike about the neighborhood and walking is an option for in-neighborhood errands. Located on the northern edge of Chicago, North Park is a quick bus or train ride from everything else.
The end of the CTA Brown Line 'El' (the city’s elevated train system) is in Albany Park, just a short jaunt south of North Park at the Kimball stop. It’ll be a roughly 10 minute bus ride to the Brown Line station and then another 35-60 minutes before you reach the Loop—the length of travel depends on many different factors which include construction, time of day, and general delays the occur for no apparent reason. Taking the Metra Union Pacific North Line into downtown will take you about a half-hour or less because there is only one stop between North Park and the Chicago Loop. Parking at the Metra lot is only a buck and a quarter and a one-way ticket will only set you back about $2.
Many Chicagoans have their own vehicles, so driving is also a viable option for getting about the neighborhood and city. All it takes is a short trip south on Kedzie Avenue to get to I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway), which shoots south to the Loop and into the far suburbs. Taking the Kennedy into the thick of Chicago will take between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on rush hour traffic. Cabs aren’t around very often, so if you’re out of luck with the car, definitely call ahead for a taxi instead of trying to flag one down—trust, us, you’d be waiting for a long time. The local routes from North Park neighborhood into the Loop will take just as long as the expressway due to frequent stops at lights and an overabundance of four-way stop signs.
School’s in Session
North Park is an academic, community-minded neighborhood. There are schools that suit any age and level of study. It doesn’t matter if you have a youngster going to the first day of kindergarten or if you’re returning to college after a long break, North Park has plenty of scholastic options.
Founded just before the turn of the 20th century, North Park University (3225 W Foster Ave, 773-244-6200) enrolls about 3,000 students a year. As a multicultural Christian institution, North Park has both graduate and undergraduate degrees in subjects ranging from theology to arts in community development. North Park University sits on a beautiful 30-acre campus within the neighborhood’s borders, offering greenery and plenty of places to lounge in the shade and do your homework. Slightly larger in size and attendance, Northeastern Illinois University (5500 N Saint Louis Ave, 773-583-4050) serves over 10,000 commuter students and occupies 67 acres of land in the northwest corner of the North Park neighborhood. Since its establishment in 1867, Northeastern has grown to offer over 70 degrees in both graduate and undergraduate studies and an affordable academic option for many Chicagoland scholars.
In addition to the following list, you can find out more information about Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Frederick Von Steuben Public High School 5039 N Kimball Ave - (773) 534-5100
Northeastern Illinois University 5500 N Saint Louis Ave - (773) 583-4050
Northside College Prep High School 5501 N Kedzie Ave - (773) 534-3954
North Park University 3225 W Foster Ave - (773) 244-6200
Peterson Elementary School 5510 N Christiana Ave - (773) 534-5070
Telshe Yeshiva 3535 W Foster Ave - (773) 463-7738
Here’s a beginner’s list on the essential 'what and where' of North Park neighborhood. Find out where to the best places to get your daily necessities are from frozen dinners and fresh fruits to library books and allergy pills.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
Leo’s Naturals 3242 W Foster Ave - (773) 267-0808
Nok Young Market 5257 N Bernard St - (773) 588-4636
North Park Covenant Food Pantry 5240 N Christiana Ave - (773) 463-8993
Albany Park Public Library 5150 N Kimball Ave - (312) 744-1933
University Library 3225 W Foster Ave - (773) 244-5583
Albany Pharmacy 5326 N Kedzie Ave - (773) 478-0040
5400 N Lincoln Ave - (312) 742-8714
When it’s time to get loose and kick back, North Park has plenty of places to relax. Check out this list of places to wine, dine, and unwind—but don’t forget to explore this north side neighborhood for yourself!
WTTW Studios 5400 N St Louis Ave - (773) 583-5000
Video Tape City 3414 W Foster Ave - (773) 583-4011
Covenant Bookstore 3200 W Foster (800) 621-1290 or - (773) 478-4676
Hankel’s Flowers 3310 W Foster Ave - (773) 583-6200
Sweden Shop 3304 W Foster Ave - (773) 478-0327
Zwick Window Shade 3336 W Foster Ave - (773) 588-5200
Northpark Hookah Lounge 3316 W Foster Ave - (773) 478-7045
Schlegl’s Bakery & Cafe 3334 W Foster Ave - (773) 539-9207
Boston Market 3154 W Foster Ave - (773) 463-2852
Charcoal Delights 3139 W Foster Ave - (773) 583-0056
Loree’s Restaurant 3232 W Foster Ave - (773) 583-4978
Hunan Wok 3411 W Bryn Mawr Ave - (773) 539-9650
Mi Na Ri Oriental Restaurant 3311 W Bryn Mawr Ave - (773) 267-3590
Delicias Crucita 3314 W Foster - (773) 539-4702
Carthage Cafe - 3446 W Foster Ave - (773) 539-9004
Tre Kronor 3258 W Foster Ave - (773) 267-9888
Our neighborhoods guide is meant to give potential homebuyers a general overview of what every Chicago neighborhood has to offer and what makes it unique from the rest-and believe us, no two neighborhoods are the same! Searching for a new home isn’t just about finding that prefect condo or house, making sure the setting fits your style and needs is just as important. And whether North Park neighborhood is your ideal locale to settle down, or you’ve found the scene here just isn’t your cup of tea, we’re here to help you find the right place to make sure your home purchase a is total success. From the type of restaurants to the outdoor venues to the local schools, every detail is an essential factor in what makes a property of dream home. By utilizing our comprehensive accounts of each community, such as this one for North Park, we hope to provide a detailed picture of not only the residential real estate available in the area, but also the additional features of the neighborhood. A quick glance and you’ll know exactly what shopping, dining, entertainment and resources are in North Park, all without ever having to go anywhere.