When in the market for a new home, don't let O'Hare neighborhood fly past your home-seeking radar. Because this northwest side Chicago community is full of lovely homes, friendly neighbors, and acres of wide open green spaces. The properties in O'Hare afford spacious yards just awaiting your landscaping touch, and a variety of architectural designs in both single-family and multi-unit residences. Familiar dining favorites dot the O'Hare neighborhood including Chicago-style stuffed pizza, old-fashioned diner food and those dependable breakfast, lunch and dinner spots. Other businesses are scattered about the neighborhood, as are elementary schools and convenient services.
Location: Approximately 14 miles northwest of the Loop
Boundaries: The Kennedy Expressway and Higgins Road to the north, Canfield Avenue to the east, Foster Avenue to the south and North East River Road to the west.
Bordering Neighborhoods: Oriole Park, Norwood Park, Harwood Heights, Park Ridge, Rosemont
Crime Statistics: Go to CLEARMap for crime stats on specific Chicago neighborhood, intersection, address or police beat.
Then and Now
Today we hear the name 'O’Hare' and immediately think of the ever-expanding O’Hare International Airport, but we tend to forget that it wasn’t always such a center for travel and that there is a separate neighborhood in Chicago that goes by the same name.
Chicago’s O’Hare neighborhood extends into both Cook and DuPage counties and is just fourteen miles northwest of the Loop. The community itself began as two square miles of land near the Des Plaines River. Because of his efforts in the Fort Dearborn Massacre, Alexander Robinson was given a parcel of land by way of the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien. Robinson was a Potawatomie Chief of part-Scottish decent, as well as a government interpreter. The Treaty of Prairie du Chien was an agreement between the Potawatomie, Ojibwe, and Ottawa Indian tribes who had taken charge of lead mining areas in southwest Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Roughly ten years later, local American residents as well as German immigrants began to populate and develop the land, which eventually led to a prosperous community.
Named after a depot of the Wisconsin Central railroad, this area of land was called Orchard Place. Little did people know, the small community of Orchard Place would someday be known as the Midwestern hub of domestic and international air travel—O’Hare Airport.
Orchard Place was taken over in 1942 by Douglas Aircraft who switched gears from producing cargo planes for the war effort to developing Orchard Place into a commercial airport. Five years later, the Chicago City Council deemed the space an official international airport and the sprawling airfield was named after the aviator and World War II hero, Edward H. O’Hare.
After the Kennedy Expressway was constructed in the 1950s, the highway created a direct link from O’Hare to downtown Chicago. In between the two destinations was a large expanse of land that was drawing the attention of developers and Chicagoans who could now easily and quickly reach the northwest area via the new highway. Subdivisions like the O’Hare neighborhood popped up along the stretch of freeway in the 1960s and property values gradually started to increase in the area. High-rise apartment and condominium buildings and commercial businesses were on the rise, as well as single-family homes that sprouted up along planned residential streets that wound back into the subdivision through roundabouts and cul-de-sacs.
Today, with its close proximity to the airport (which is directly west of the neighborhood about five miles) the tiny O’Hare community continues to prosper and provides a great place to live—especially if you’re the jet-setting type that is always off to the airport for the next exotic destination or last minute work trip.
Despite being so close to an international center of transportation, the O’Hare neighborhood actually has a low-key vibe with numerous parks where residents can stretch their legs and enjoy a little family-time with the kids.
One park is a patch of land just off of Chester Street on the neighborhood’s east side that was generously donated to the O’Hare community in 1989. Ten years later, the small plot of land was developed into Grandparents Playlot Park (5445 N. Chester St.) with a playground, benches and green space perfect for picnics and playtime. The advisory board in charge of the park area named the park with the vision that grandparents would bring their grandchildren to the park to watch them play in the playground and enjoy a larger green space than what most city yards tend to have.
Situated around and amongst the O’Hare community is the Des Plaines River and beautiful forest preserves where you can take a jog, fish or get your friends and family together for a picnic. The north Robinson Woods (708-771-1335 or River Trail Nature Center 847-824-8360) park reserve allows residents to take their bikes out for a long, scenic course amongst oak and maple trees and a variety of migrant birds like warblers. Robinson Woods lies on both sides of the Des Plaines River and a footpath leads you to the Catherine Chevalier Woods area that’s located on the cusp of O’Hare neighborhood. Catherine Chevalier Woods (5530 N East River Rd.) is a designated spot for picnickers where you’ll find covered pavilions and picnic tables to station your group. The entire forest preserve is a great way to enjoy the aspects of nature without losing out the aspects of city-living that we’ve grown so accustomed to.
Although it’s not in the neighborhood, O’Hare residents have another spot nearby that offers a bit of family fun—and a trip to the airport that doesn’t require packing a suitcase. The Chicago Aviation Department and the Chicago Children’s Museum collaborated to create 'Kids on the Fly' (5200 N. Bessie Coleman Dr., 312-527-1000), which is located inside Terminal 2 of the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. This interactive museum and play area is a great place to teach children the history and technical aspects of aviation. Open seven days a week, from 7 am to midnight, 'Kids on the Fly' has several stations including a play air traffic control tower and a mini check-in counter where they can pretend to check in luggage like the grown-up version of airport employees. Adults can take in artwork displayed by Gallery 37 inside the nearby park seating area while the kids can take on the Duplo block area which allows them to build their own version of O’Hare or even the John Hancock tower if they please. Unfortunately, ticketed passengers are the only ones able to take advantage of this educational play area, but it’s a great idea to pen into your travel plans.
O’Hare Real Estate
Amid the O’Hare neighborhood, you’ll find new and vintage homes situated conveniently near all forms of recreation, business and transportation, including the O’Hare branch of Blue Line train that runs directly through the north side and into the Loop. The charming homes present spacious lawns ready for your landscaping touch, brick-style exteriors that are both quaint and protective, and warm interiors with enough space to house you and your family in comfort and style.
Homes in O’Hare offer a variety of single-family designs and multi-unit residential buildings. Depending on which part of the neighborhood you are looking in, and what your budget will allow, you can find a style and layout to suit every need. Low- and mid-rise condos and townhomes with private balconies and garage parking are priced in the mid $400,000s on the high end and in the mid $200,000s on the lower end. You can buy a unit for less (in the low to mid $100,000s), but you’ll have to park on the street.
But many residents who move into this northwest Chicago neighborhood come for the spacious lots that the detached single-family dwellings provide. Whether you want a two-story, a split-level or a ranch, the property is bound to offer up plenty of green lawn, mature trees, and room for that backyard barbeque you’ve always wanted to have. While O’Hare boasts many beautiful new brick constructions, valued in the seven and eight-hundred thousands, there are some much larger homes in the area with four to six bedrooms that are listed for more than a million dollars. Not to worry if these aren’t in your price range, O’Hare neighborhood properties ran the gamut with plenty of three-bedroom homes listed for $400,000 or less.
What’s on the Menu?
Along with familiar favorites like Bennigan’s Grill & Tavern (8420 W Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-380-1010) and Porter’s Steakhouse (8201 W Higgins Rd., 773-693-2323), O’Hare neighborhood has a whole host of dining locations to satisfy your appetite, no matter what you are craving.
One neighborhood hotspot for morning and afternoon grub is Mac’s Restaurant (812 Higgins Rd., 847-696-2950), where the waffles are served hot and fluffy and the Salisbury steak is so tender it seems to melt in your mouth. Mac’s is an old-fashioned diner that serves up breakfast and lunch only. Family-owned, this quaint restaurant is assuredly one of the best places to get a steaming hot skillet of eggs, potatoes, meats and/or vegetables for breakfast and a plateful of succulent ham sliced right off the bone for lunch. All prices are under $8 so a meal here won’t break the bank, unfortunately seating is limited so carryout is available and often the way to go—as many Mac’s regulars will tell you.
Nothing less than the best Mexican cuisine is served at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant (9440 W Foster Ave. 773-992-2288). Start your dining experience off by munching on a bottomless basket of crispy tortilla chips and homemade salsa. Continue with some smoking hot chicken or beef fajitas with all the sour cream, guacamole, cheese and pico de gallo you can squeeze into a tortilla. The bartenders here make a much-talked about golden margarita and the chefs are always prepared to serve the lunch and dinner time rush, so you won’t have to wait long for your meal. One other thing: if you visit Maria’s on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll be harmoniously serenaded by three singing and guitar-playing musicians as you eat. The atmosphere is casual and also offers buffet-style meals and catering for all your events.
O’Hare is a Chicago neighborhood, and no Chicago neighborhood is complete without a spot to get some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Around here there’s only one place to go—Gino’s East Pizza (8725 W Higgins Rd., 847-698-4949). Rumored to have the city’s very best Chicago-style pizza, Gino’s has been in business for over forty years with their golden crispy crust, chunky tomato sauce, flavorful cheese and assortment of fresh toppings. Start off with the calamari or mozzarella sticks, or order a chopped salad with chicken and pasta and your choice of dressing. As far as pizza goes, nothing has been left out. Gino’s makes both thin crust and deep-dish BBQ chicken, vegetarian or crumbled sausage being some of the favorites. Other entrees include chicken parmesan, lasagna, chicken fettuccini and spaghetti with pesto sauce—all of which come in enormous portions, so you can count on having leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day. There’s also a kids’ menu for the little tykes, as well a dessert menu that’s to die for—but you’ll have to remember to save room if you want the sweet treats because with the size of Gino’s slices you’ll be lucky if you can finish a second piece, let alone hold dessert. And a side note: Keep Gino’s in mind when throwing a birthday bash or other celebration because they offer great party packages, as well as catering.
Some of other delectable eateries in the neighborhood are the China Kitchen (5332 N Cumberland Ave., 773-693-3223) and the Golden Elephant (712 Higgins Rd., 847-698-1168), where they’re known for having excellent pad thai. For a trusty turkey club or BLT sandwich on your choice of bread, try Deli Time (8750 W Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-714-9390), a favorite among O’Hare locals looking for a quick bite. For breakfast, lunch or dinner, Bistro 90 (8201 W Higgins Rd., 773-695-8777) covers all the bases with a casual environment and delicious meals at an affordable price.
Best Shopping Stops
If you want to walk off some of the food you ate at one of the neighborhood’s delicious array of restaurants, do a little shopping at O’Hare’s mini-selection of retail stores or head out to the mall for a shopping spree that is sure to exercise your legs—and your credit card.
You’ve heard the old credo of 'living in moderation,' but when it comes to sweet chocolate treats from Fannie May Candies (8410 W Bryn Mawr Ave., 630-836-8611), we tend to forget that philosophy and go a little overboard. But who can resist biting into a vanilla buttercream or one of their famous Trinidad candies? Being in Fannie May’s is like, well, like being a kid in a candy store! Their gourmet chocolates come in an assortment of box sizes with a variety of fillings—if you’re looking for a great gift or simply buying in bulk for yourself. If chocolate isn’t your thing, don’t think you can escape the pull of this delectable sweet shop, their English toffee and yummy sugar lollipops will ready hit the spot.
On the more domestic, handy side of things, O’Hare neighborhood has a True Value (8600 W Bryn Mawr Ave., 773-695-5000) in the area where the staff is ready to help residents take on any home project or repair. The folks at True Value can provide assistance in making the most of your living space with storage ideas and containers, as well as paint for your walls and electrical items to brighten your home and keep it safe. They’re also ready for the seasons with gardening tools and rakes for the warm weather months and shovels and salt for those stubborn, snowy winter days that bludgeon Chicago relentlessly. Although a popular chain throughout the nation, the staff at the O’Hare neighborhood True Value is particularly knowledgeable and friendly, at least that’s been our experience.
Not directly located in O’Hare neighborhood, but most definitely worth the fifteen minute drive, is the Woodfield Mall (Golf Rd. at Route 53, 847-330-1537) located in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, just past O’Hare Airport. Woodfield Mall has over 300 stores and restaurants that cater shoppers from all over the Midwest daily. While there is sufficient parking for those with their own cars, a fleet of buses services the mall, too, so if you don’t feel like driving or are partial to public transportation, they’ve got it covered.
Whether you want to just go down the street or across the world, living in this Chicago neighborhood provides the ultimate in travel options—throughout the city and all over the world.
Even though it’s not within the neighborhood boundaries and it won’t help you with getting to the grocery store or going out to eat (unless you’re planning on dining abroad), the most prominent place to start when it comes to getting around would have to be the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (10000 West O’Hare, 773-686-3700). Though it has little to offer those that are merely trying to get around Chicago, this Midwestern hub of air traffic is a very convenient resource for O’Hare residents that travel for work or take frequent vacations. Flights take off 24 hours a day and go just about anywhere you can imagine. There is ample parking to leave you car with varying prices depending on the lot. Or, if you’d rather not run up a huge bill for your stationary vehicle while you’re lying on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, you can take the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line train right to the airport.
If you are planning on staying local, the CTA is probably your best bet. The CTA is Chicago’s public transportation system that offers bus, subway and elevated train routes all over the city. The Blue Line train runs right through O’Hare neighborhood along the northern border with its final destination terminating at O’Hare Airport to the west. If you take the Blue Line in the other direction, it continues through the northwest side of Chicago to the Loop and then all the way to Forest Park suburb to the southwest. It only makes one stop in the neighborhood Cumberland Avenue, but it is still an extremely convenient and timely way of O’Hare neighborhood residents to get to destinations throughout the city.
Several bus routes also service the area, which is actually the best way to get around the neighborhood using public transit. The #81 West Lawrence bus runs east/west from Milwaukee Avenue to Cumberland Avenue. The #64 Foster-Canfield bus travels in a circular route on Higgins, Harlem, Foster and Canfield avenues. The #69 Cumberland/East River runs down Bryn Mawr Avneue to Cumberland Avenue to Lawrence Avenue to East River, and back around again. The #90 North Harlem bus route goes down Harlem Avenue (north/south) from Higgins to Lake Street. Train and bus fares are $2 per trip with $0.25 transfers.
If not traveling by plane, train, or bus, and you’d rather take to the streets by car, there are a few things you should know. In the city of Chicago, street parking does have a tendency to give motorists headaches and can also be tough on the wallet, too, depending on where you are. So look for signs that indicate what the rules of the road are. From O’Hare neighborhood it is easy to hop on the I-90 (Kennedy Expressway) from Cumberland Avenue and follow it west to the airport or east to the Loop.
School’s in Session
You’ll be happy to know education is a significant part of what encapsulates the versatile O’Hare community. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on O’Hare schools and other Chicago schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
We know that when you’re searching for your dream home, finding all the conveniences of life in your neighborhood makes your living experience so much nicer. So here is a list of local businesses and recreation locations that will get you started.
Parks and Recreation
'Kids on the Fly' O’Hare Airport, Terminal 2, 5200 N. Bessie Coleman Dr - (312) 527-1000
Grandparents Playlot Park 5445 N. Chester St.
Catherine Chevalier Woods 5530 N East River Rd
UPS Store 5441 N East River Rd. - (773) 693-9570
Dominick’s 1900 S Cumberland Ave. - (847) 696-2360
Thrift Drugs 8410 W Bryn Mawr Ave. (630) 836-8611
Walgreens 5753 N Canfield Ave. - (773) 631-2480
Dominick’s (Park Ridge) 1900 S Cumberland Ave. - (847) 696-2360
Bally Total Fitness 5444 N Cumberland Ave. - (773) 380-8600
Fannie May Confections 8410 W Bryn Mawr Ave (630) 836-8611
True Value 8600 W Bryn Mawr Ave. - (773) 695-5000
Woodfield Mall Golf Rd. at Route 53, 847-330-1537
Bennigan’s Grill & Tavern 8420 W Bryn Mawr Ave. - (773) 380-1010
Hooters on Higgins 8225 W Higgins Rd. - (773) 714-0193
Mac’s Restaurant 812 Higgins Rd. - (847) 696-2950 Outback Steakhouse 8101 W Higgins Rd. - (773) 380-0818
Porter’s Steakhouse 8201 W Higgins Rd. - (773) 693-2323
China Kitchen 5332 N Cumberland Ave. - (773) 693-3223
Golden Elephant 712 Higgins Rd. - (847) 698-1168
Deli Time 8750 W Bryn Mawr Ave - (773) 714-9390
Bistro 90 8201 W Higgins Rd. - (773) 695-8777
Maria’s Mexican Restaurant 9440 W Foster Ave. - (773) 992-2288
Cabana Club 5431 N East River Rd. - (773) 399-1100
Gino’s East 8725 W Higgins Rd. - (847) 698-4949
Nancy’s Pizza & Al’s Beef 1036 Higgins Rd. - (847) 825-2345
Spuntino’s Pizza 516 Higgins Rd. - (847) 696-0282
Northwood Lounge 5342 N Cumberland Ave. - (773) 693-8454
Plush Pub 5344 N Cumberland Ave. - (773) 693-4313
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. O’Hare 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 O’Hare.