Old Irving Park
This tranquil neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side boasts large vintage homes on oversized lots and convenient access to the city's downtown Loop and O'Hare International Airport by bus, train, or expressway. Old Irving Park is a small section of Irving Park proper where landmark architecture meets modern construction. Buildings erected in the late 1800s still grace the tree-lined streets that are also budding with contemporary townhomes and new condominiums. Despite its charming old-school character, Old Irving Park is an active commercial center. The neighborhood's Six Corners Plaza is a retail hub where residents find big box stores such as Office Depot and Sears. Independent specialty shops are also on hand and a dining backdrop that includes all the local favorites (stuffed pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs).
Old Irving Park Facts
Location: 7 miles northwest of the Loop
Boundaries: Pulaski Road to the east, Montrose Avenue to the north, Addison Street to the south and Cicero Avenue to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: Portage Park, Irving Park, Mayfair, Kilbourn Park, Jefferson Park
Then and Now
Old Irving Park wasn’t always 'old,' of course. This Chicago neighborhood’s development began in 1869, when businessman Charles T. Race and a group of developers bought two parcels of farmland totaling more than 200 acres. Plans to farm the land were quickly dropped as the forwarding-thinking businessmen opted to create an exclusive suburban community on the property instead.
Realizing that transportation was the key to attracting settlers, the developers worked out a deal with the Chicago & North Western Railroad. In return for the developers footing the bill to build a train station on their land, the railroad company agreed to stop at the new station to pick up passengers headed for downtown and beyond. The next step was to name their new suburb—the developers’ first choice was Irvington, after author Washington Irving. But when they learned there was already an Irvington in Illinois, they changed the name to Irving Park.
The suburb quickly attracted Chicago’s wealthy, who yearned for more land and bigger homes. The area also appealed to the middle class, who wanted to escape the 'dangers' of city living. In October of 1871, some of these early residents ran to the cupolas of their homes to watch the Great Chicago Fire rage several miles away. After the fire, Irving Park witnessed a mini building boom as people fled to nearby areas untouched by the fire’s destructive flames. Several grand mansions were built along Irving Park Boulevard (now Irving Park Road) in the early 1870s, and hundreds of homes and other buildings were constructed over the next twenty or so years. Fortunately, some of these historic gems still grace the neighborhood grounds today.
The bustling area became part of Chicago in 1889. New amenities like water lines, streets, and streetcar service attracted even more residents between 1895 and 1914. During this time, more than 5,000 buildings were put up, including 1,200 multi-family homes. Construction in the area remained mostly residential for the next few decades.
The Irving Park neighborhood changed drastically in the 1960s, when many homes and businesses were razed for the Northwest (now Kennedy) Expressway. Although architectural jewels were lost, there was good news: residents now had quick access to a major transportation route. A new Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) line built in 1970 (and extended to O’Hare International Airport in 1984) made the area even more commuter-friendly.
Old Irving Park—a subsection of Irving Park proper—began a period of rebirth in the 1980s, as more people discovered its history, beautiful homes, and convenient location. Throughout the decade, many structures were named landmarks. The Old Irving Park Association was founded in 1983 to emphasize neighborhood unity and the preservation of historic residences. As you walk through Old Irving Park’s quiet streets, you’ll see grand homes restored to their original glory, other homes in the process of restoration, and brand new developments carving out a new neighborhood history.
Nestled on quiet side streets, family-friendly Kolmar Playlot Park is like your own backyard, only bigger and better. This less-than-an-acre park sports a baseball field and a soft surface playground. Parents can relax on one of the benches with peace of mind that their children won’t stray too far while playing. On a nice morning, we like to scout out a spot here to read the paper and enjoy that first cup of coffee.
Art and Architecture
When you consider the rich architectural history of Old Irving Park, it’s no wonder that some of its buildings have been granted landmark status by the Chicago Commission on Landmarks.
Built in 1889, the Whistle Stop Inn (4200 W Irving Park Rd) might not catch your eye upon first glance. After all, this two-story wooden building originally housed a grocery store and second-floor apartment. But it’s a rare surviving example of the wooden structures that were common in Chicago’s outlying neighborhoods in the late nineteenth century. It reportedly served as an Irving Park Road toll station from 1891 to 1894. Later, it became the Whistle Stop Inn tavern, and that name has stuck.
The distinctive brick Italianate Race House (3945 N Tripp Ave) was constructed in 1874 on a large lot facing Irving Park Road and was moved to its present location in 1905. If you’re wondering what types of homes were built in the area before it was annexed to Chicago, the Race House is a prime example. The fact that the home was built for a member of the Race family—a relative of the community’s original developer—adds to its historical significance.
You’ll find it hard not to notice the striking exterior of Schurz High School (3601 N Milwaukee Ave, 773 534 3420) as you drive down Milwaukee Avenue. This is not your typical Chicago school building. Built in 1910, the Dwight Perkins-designed masterpiece incorporates two important architectural styles: the Chicago School, with its strong vertical piers and limited ornamentation, and the Prairie School, with its overhanging eaves and detailed masonry. In 1995, the building’s exterior was cleaned and its clay tile roof restored, revealing its original two-color brick scheme.
Old Irving Park Real Estate
Residents of Old Irving Park take pride in the fact that they have something other Chicago neighborhoods don’t: space. Many homes rest on oversized—sometimes double—lots. And, Old Irving Park boasts a veritable bonanza of Chicago residential architectural styles. You’ll find Victorians, Queen Annes, Princess Annes, Italiantes, vintage farmhouses, bungalows, graystones, and Prairie School homes, to name a few.
To add to the mix, contemporary townhomes, new single-family houses, and modern condominiums are springing up in the area, drawing residents of all ages and walks of life to the charming northwest side local. Chances are whatever type of home you’re looking for, you can find it in this Chicago neighborhood.
A one-bedroom condo in Old Irving Park ranges between $135,000 and $220,000 (that’s generally without garage parking). A two-bedroom place starts around $170,000, with plenty of options that reach into the mid to upper $300,000s. Many of the condos in this Chicago neighborhood are found in classic mid-rise courtyard buildings, although a handful of newer models are sprinkled about the area. One- and two-story single-family dwellings with three or four bedrooms start in the upper $200,000s. However, the average sales price for a private house in Old Irving Park is around $500,000 with several homes surpassing the million dollar price point.
What’s on the Menu?
Whether you’re looking for a tried-and-true family restaurant or more exotic dining, Old Irving Park has what you crave.
Sabatino’s (4441 W Irving Park Rd, 773 283 8331) is one of Old Irving Park’s best-kept secrets. Top-notch Italian food, some of Chicago’s friendliest and most efficient wait staff, neighborhood prices—what’s not to love? The extensive menu includes a page each of steak, seafood, veal, and pasta dishes. Our favorites, though, are the daily specials, especially the Wednesday night melt-in-your-mouth lobster tail special. And if that isn’t enough, strolling violinists serenade diners during the week, and the regular bar becomes a piano bar on weekends. The restaurant has free valet parking, although it’s usually easy to find a spot on the street.
If you can’t get enough Italian food, there are more great options nearby. Founded in 1971, La Villa Restaurant & Pizzeria (3638 N Pulaski Rd, 773 283 7980) is our pick for the freshest-tasting pizza around, in any style you like: thick crust, thin crust, or stuffed. But whether you choose to dine in or get delivery, make sure you try La Villa’s dinners, too. The restaurant’s banquet space can accommodate up to 250 of your closest hungry friends, and catering is also available. Relatively new to the neighborhood’s main drag is Chicago’s Pizza and Pasta (4520 W Irving Park Rd, 773 427 0100), serving up our favorite meat and/or cheese pizza pies, as well as gourmet adventures like their Grecian delight, and the prosciutto and goat cheese pizza. Dine inside or out on an impressive selection of appetizers, salads, wraps, paninis, pasta dinners, and more. And when we get a late night craving for some‘za, we know we can always count on Chicago’s Pizza to deliver until 5am.
For something completely different, how about 'low and slow' barbecue? That’s right—the folks at Smoque BBQ (3800 N Pulaski Rd, 773 545 7427) have brought authentic barbecue to Chicago’s northwest side. Smoque crafts its own sauces and rubs from scratch, but this place is BYOB, so that part of the meal is up to you. The menu includes ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and traditional sides like BBQ beans, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and peach cobbler. One sniff of the zesty barbeque aroma in this place and our mouths start watering.
Speaking of nose-tingling aromas, Shiraz Restaurant (4425 W Montrose Ave, 773 777 7275) is a kabob-lover’s paradise and the smell of those sizzling meals on a stick are sure to get the attention of hungry Old Irving Park residents. Shiraz has a menu of traditional Persian kabobs (koobideh, barg, shishlik, and chenjeh), along with the conventional chicken and seafood variety served with fluffy white or dill rice. Not into the kabob thing? Shiraz also cooks up tasty Persian stews, and a variety of appetizers, salads, and vegetarian dishes. In addition to the flavorful cuisine, this restaurant’s natural brick walls and jewel-toned decor transports diners from Montrose Avenue to a Middle Eastern eatery.
We all know the importance of a good morning meal, and Old Irving Park has two traditional favorites to make sure we start the day off right: Golden Nugget (4229 W Irving Park Rd, 773 777 7107) and IHOP (4210 N Cicero Ave, 773 685 0242). These pancake houses serve up delicious stacks of flapjacks and eggs cooked any way you like without serving you an over-priced bill at the end of the meal. Of course, they also have great lunch and dinner choices if you happen to visit later in the day. Have a hankering for a traditional Irish breakfast? Just stop by McNamara’s (4328 W Irving Park Rd, 773 725 1800) for eggs, rashers, and Irish sausage. American breakfast items also make their way onto McNamara’s menu, but only on weekends.
Java junkies will delight in several coffee shops just steps apart from one another on Irving Park Road. Java Thai (4272 W Irving Park Rd, 773 545 6200) is a charming, quirky coffee house right on the corner of Irving Park Road and Kildare Avenue. Sweet Thai coffee and tea are available, along with cappuccino, espresso and regular cups of joe. Further south on the same block, you’ll find Jazz It Cafe (4202 W Irving Park Rd, 773 777 7002). Inviting couches, board games, and free Wi-Fi entice you to sit back and relax while sipping your hot drink. And if you happen to be on one of those all-day coffee shop benders, hunger is bound to strike at some point. Fortunately, you can order a sandwich or salad from Jazz It’s Mediterranean-inspired menu selection. Other caffeine options can be found at the ever-popular Starbucks (4365 W Irving Park Rd, 773 736 5226), which has a location across the street. And when we’re heading for the CTA Blue Line or Metra train stop at Irving, we like to pass by Coffee According to Marty (3950 N Avondale Ave, 773 777 3245) to pick up something for the ride.
Best Shopping Stops
National retail chains, local specialty stores, and a historic shopping district are all part of Old Irving Park’s shopping scene.
Old Irving Park’s boundaries include part of the historic Six Corners shopping district, named as such for the corners made by the three-street intersection of Irving Park Road, Cicero Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue. The district’s anchor is a massive Sears department store (4730 W Irving Park Rd, 773 202 2000), which was built in 1938. In recent years, two new shopping areas have developed at this spot, the first being Six Corners Plaza (3970-3982 N Milwaukee Ave) which includes Bally’s, Office Depot, Payless Shoes Source, and Supercuts. A short walk away, the Marketplace at Six Corners (Irving Park Rd, east of Cicero Ave) has Jewel/Osco for your grocery and pharmacy needs, as well as national retailers like Marshalls and Blockbuster. Both have ample parking, so you can make a quick stop to shop.
For a unique shopping experience, visit Hats Plus (4706 W Irving Park Rd, 773 286 5577) for thousands of hats in hundreds of styles, colors, and fabrics. Cowboy hats, stetsons, fedoras, kangols, straw hats, and fitted caps are just a sampling of the amazing selection of headgear here. And speaking of an amazing selection, at City News (4018 N Cicero Ave, 773 545 7377) you can browse through 60 different newspapers and 6,000—that’s not a typo—magazines from around the world. In fact, the store offers a $10 reward to anyone who brings in a magazine from another newsstand in the Chicago area that the store doesn’t carry. The publication must be current, so don’t wait if you think you’ve found one!
Sports fanatics will love Zeke’s Baseball Cards and Collectibles (4268 W Irving Park Rd, 773 777 0766). Zeke’s has been selling baseball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing and golf collectibles for more than 14 years. What kinds of 'collectibles' you ask? Cards, publications, pennants, autographs, buttons, and more. Even if you’re not a collector, you’ll love browsing this sports-crazy store. A few steps away on Irving Park Road, you’ll find a great children’s store: Tippy Toes Children’s Shoes & Boutique (4264 W Irving Park Rd, 773 283 9450). This cute shop carries a number of children’s shoe brands including Keen, Ecco, Stride Rite, and Jumping Jacks. Tippy Toes sells more than just shoes; you can shop its selection of diaper bags, toys, baby gifts, and other accessories for your little bundle of joy.
Night on the Town
Bars and pubs in Old Irving Park have a welcoming neighborhood appeal. Stop in for a drink or bite to eat at one of these casual night spots, and you’re sure to feel like a regular.
We’ll start with one that’s named for the neighborhood, the Old Irving Park Tap (4217 W Irving Park Rd, 773 725 5595). Located steps away from the CTA Blue Line stop at Irving, this sports bar is ideal for catching up on the game or having a relaxing libation after a long day’s—or week’s—work. With more than 75 bottled beers plus Blue Moon, Guinness, Hacker-Pschorr, MGD and Miller on tap, MCM Pub and Eatery (3906 N Cicero Ave, 773 736 2644) is the place for brew gurus. We love bars that also keep us well-fed, and this one does the trick with burgers, reubens, and grilled salmon sandwiches, as well as delicious snacks like spinach-artichoke dip and fried macaroni-and-cheese bites. If karaoke is your thing—and let’s face it, after a few drinks karaoke seems to be everyone’s thing—then head to Sidekicks (4424 W Montrose Ave, 773 545 6212) to belt out your favorite melody. Sidekick’s huge song list includes of a slew of crowd-pleasers, as well as less-popular tunes that no one cares to sing along with. The bar also holds semi-competitive dart tournaments and offers a respectable menu for hungry bar-hoppers.
Old Irving Park residents can visit the Emerald Isle without leaving the neighborhood. The same place we get our traditional Irish breakfast in the morning, converts into a happening Irish pub once night falls at McNamara’s (4328 W Irving Park Rd, 773 725 1800). This popular neighborhood nightspot has both bar seating and tables, and if for some reason you continue walking on past the bar, you’ll find a cozy restaurant on the other side serving tasty pork chops, shepherd’s pie, sandwiches, and more. Photographs of Ireland and its famous countrymen adorn the walls of this friendly hangout, but when the weather cooperates, we prefer to sip our drinks at one of their outdoor tables. Patrons are welcome to stay late—McNamara’s is open until 2 am Sunday through Friday, and until 3 am on Saturday. For another taste of Ireland, we like Paddy Mac’s Public House (4157 N Pulaski Rd, 773 279 9300). It has everything you need in a night spot: multiple high-definition plasma screen TVs to watch the game, Wi-Fi Internet connection, dartboard, pool table, silver strike bowling, and a MegaTouch Multi-Game Unit. There’s so much going on here, we almost forgot to mention the daily drink specials—they’re amazing, and the menu of salads, sandwiches, and sandwiches deserves a shout out, too.
Still going strong? Well, just a few blocks away is Brudder’s Lounge (3600 N Pulaski Rd, 773 427 6404), where the jukebox is bursting with good music—not to be shown up by the DJ who spins dance music on weekends—and the bartenders always whip up a variety of tasty martinis. While we’re enjoying the tunes, be they of the jukebox or turntable ilk, we like to get in a few games of pool at this fun Old Irving Park neighborhood hangout.
The transportation options in Old Irving Park are a commuter’s dream. Whether you work (or play) in downtown Chicago or the suburbs, you can get there easily using public transportation that’s a mere stroll from home.
To get to O’Hare International Airport or downtown in minutes, catch the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line at the Montrose or Irving Park stops. CTA buses run regularly on the area’s main arteries: Cicero Avenue, Irving Park Road, Montrose Avenue, and Pulaski Road making intra-neighborhood travel a breeze. The Metra Milwaukee District North Line (a suburb-to-city commuter train) provides service from Fox Lake, Illinois to Chicago’s Union Station. Stops in between include Morton Grove, Glenview, Deerfield, and Gray’s Lake. Old Irving Park is fortunate to have two Metra stations, Mayfair (4357 N Cicero Ave) and Grayland (3805 N Kilbourn St).
If you prefer to drive, the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) runs right through Old Irving Park. And once you get back home, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spot for your car since side driveways are common here, and parking in general is not at a premium, as it is in some of Chicago’s more trendy neighborhoods.
School’s in Session
Old Irving Park has several public and private 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.
Belding Elementary School 4257 N Tripp Ave - (773) 534-3590
Irving Park Middle School 3815 N Kedvale Ave - (773) 534-3750
St. Viator School 4140 W Addison St - (773) 545 2173
Schurz High School 3601 North Milwaukee Ave- (773) 534-3420
Here’s a sampling of some of the places you can get your bare necessities in Old Irving Park, from toothbrushes to tomatoes, flu shots to fitness classes.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
Walgreens 4001 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 685-3527
Walgreens 4040 N Cicero Ave - (773) 283-5321
Jewel-Osco 4660 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 202-1042
CVS/Pharmacy 4540 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 283 5777
Urgent Care Centers
Advocate Health Centers 4211 North Cicero Ave, Suite 308 - (773) 736-6125
Jewel-Osco 4660 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 202-0211
Family Fruit Market 4118 N Cicero Ave - (773) 481-2500
Cuenca’s Panaderia Rosticeria & Grocery 4229 W Montrose Ave - (773) 588-0771
Madina Grocery 4127 W Montrose Ave - (773) 286 9206
Bally Total Fitness 3970 N Milwaukee Ave - (773) 481-2400
Curves 3701 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 267-2223
Irving Park YMCA 4251 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 777-7500
The following are just a taste of the dining and shopping Old Irving Park has to offer. Discover the rest as you explore the neighborhood for yourself.
Blockbuster 4640 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 736-8952
City News 4018 N Cicero Ave - (773) 545-7377
Get a Grip Cycles 4359 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 427-4747
Hats Plus 4706 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 286-5577
KB Toys 4620 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 283-4852
Marshalls 4612 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 282-0078
Office Depot 3925 N Cicero Ave - (773) 283-2831
Payless Shoe Source 3951 N Cicero Ave - (773) 736-3133
Sears 4730 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 202-2000
Supercuts 3937 N Cicero Ave - (773) 545-5119
Top Hat Tattoo 4262 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 725-7239
Tippy Toes Children’s Shoes & Boutique 4264 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 283-9450
Tres Americas Books 4336 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 481-9090
U.S. Cellular 4335 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 725-0150
Bill’s Pub 4104 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 202-0020 Brudder’s Lounge 3600 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 427-6404
McNamara’s 4328 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 725 1800
MCM Pub and Eatery 3906 N Cicero Ave - (773) 736-2644
Old Irving Park Tap 4217 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 725-5595
Paddy Mac’s Public House 4157 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 279-9300
Sidekicks 4424 W Montrose Ave - (773) 545-6212
Sabatino’s 4441 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 283-8331
La Villa Restaurant & Pizzeria 3638 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 283-7980
Chicago’s Pizza and Pasta 4520 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 427-0100
Bowser Dog 4504 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 282-8662
Golden Nugget 4229 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 777-7107
IHOP Restaurant 4210 N Cicero Ave - (773) 685-0242
The Baked Tomato 4358-60 N Elston Ave - (773) 777-6430
Jeff’s Red Hots 3901 N Cicero Ave - (773) 777-1513
Lil Brudders Pizza & Grill 4004 W Addison St - (773) 427-6400
Roma’s Italian Beef 4237 N Cicero Ave - (773) 725-5715
Susie’s Hot Dogs 4126 W Montrose Ave - (773) 283-6544
Taxco Restaurant 4393 N Elston Ave - (773) 283-2559
Rio Grande 7 Mares 4012 W Montrose Ave - (773) 427-4480
#1 Chop Suey 4307 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 725-1199
Siam Taste Noodle 4323 W Addison St - (773) 286-6020
Shiraz Restaurant 4425 W Montrose Ave - (773) 777-7275
Smoque BBQ 3800 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 545-7427
Coffee According to Marty 3950 N Avondale Ave - (773) 777-3245
Java Thai 4272 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 545-6200
Jazz It Cafe 4202 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 777-7002
Cuenca’s Panaderia Rosticeria & Grocery 4229 W Montrose Ave - (773) 588-0771
Irving Park Community Food Pantry 3801 N Keeler Ave - (773) 283-6296
Irving Park Historical Society 4200 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 777-2750
Irving Park Fine Arts Committee 3938 W Belle Plaine Ave - (773) 267-1666
Irving Park United Methodist Church 3801 N Keeler Ave - (773) 283-6262
LYDIA Home Association 4300 W Irving Park Rd - (773) 736-1447
Old Irving Park Association 3714 N Kildare Ave - (312) 409-1396
Polish American Association 3834 N Cicero Ave - (773) 282-8206
Pulaski Elston Business Association 4357 N Elston Ave - (773) 545-0941
Six Corners Association 4006 N Milwaukee Ave, Suite 205 - (773) 685-9300
Illinois Soccer Association 4036 N Pulaski Rd - (773) 283-2800
As one of the many diverse Chicago neighborhoods, Old Irving Park offers homeowners a wide range of residential properties. Old Irving Park 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 Old Irving Park 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.