Old Norwood Park
Well-kept older homes, an abundance of trees and parks, and strong community ties make this north side neighborhood an ideal place for strolling, walking dogs and starting a family. Landscape wise, Old Norwood Park is rather unique, as far as Chicago neighborhoods go. The residential streets manage to avoid the typical grid-block pattern in place of angled roads and circular drives. Thick foliage borders the lots, creating a serene and verdant locale that attracts many homebuyers looking for a pleasant area to settle down, without getting too far outside the city center. The trade off for such quietude and natural beauty is a limited amount of restaurants and businesses within the neighborhood boundaries. But Old Norwood Park residents relish their restful community - besides, there is plenty commercial activity next door in the greater Norwood Park neighborhood.
Old Norwood Facts
Location: About 13 miles northwest of the Loop
Boundaries: Northwest Highway to the north and east, Bryn Mawr Avenue to the south and Harlem Avenue to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: Norwood Park, Union Ridge, Oriole Park, Edison Park, Jefferson Park
Then and Now
In the 1860s, developers looked at the largely forested and undeveloped landscape of what is now known as Old Norwood Park and decided to develop the area into a resort community that would provide Chicagoans a place to take a break from their jobs and busy lives. After constructing a man-made lake and the Norwood Park Hotel, they were disappointed to find the hotel only drew in relaxing locals and they eventually gave up on the resort idea.
In 1874 the community was incorporated into the city of Chicago. Henry Ward Beecher’s novel Norwood: Or Village Life in New England inspired the name 'Norwood' for the new neighborhood that many thought reflected New England’s streets and housing. Later, the name was altered to Norwood Park after it was discovered that another post office in Illinois already had claim on the name Norwood. The nominal alteration would prove fitting, as the community would remain lush and green to the present day.
As years passed, many of the surrounding areas saw a dramatic increase in industrial development. The section of Norwood Park known as Old Norwood Park, however, remained a pleasant residential neighborhood that is home to numbers of families and an overall pleasant place to live. Today, Old Norwood Park is a great area for raising a family, a prime location for good schools, parks, and a place that numbers of Chicago’s own police officers and firefighters call home.
Surrounding the community’s original center, Old Norwood Park resides in between the two halves of Norwood Park, a residential area with very similar characteristics. Both neighborhoods have similar green streets and strong community spirit, but Old Norwood Park boasts some older residences and an even greater number of parks.
The resort community roots of Old Norwood Park shine through today with its vast greenery and open park spaces. Four different parks and play areas in the Old Norwood Park neighborhood provides residents with abundant outdoor activities and fun-filled days.
The largest of these is the namesake Norwood Park (5801 N. Natoma Ave., 773-631-4893), which stretches over 14 acres and has the only outdoor swimming pool with a water slide on Chicago’s north side. This fantastic park boasts a number of other facilities including tennis courts, baseball diamonds, a new fitness center with weights and cardiovascular machines, and (being that we’re always up for a run) an outdoor 1/5-mile running track with lights. Residents like Norwood Park because it offers activities for all ages. For the younguns’ there’s youth soccer, floor hockey, ballet and acting classes; for adults there’s aerobics classes and baseball leagues. The park staff also provides an endless list of special events for families—a Valentine’s dance and ice cream social, a Shamrock Shuffle family run, outdoor movies, an Easter egg hunt and magic show, Halloween parties and a yearly dinner with Santa in December—to name a few.
Walking around Old Norwood Park’s heavily vegetated streets, we encounter a number of other parks, including Norwood Circle Park (7117 W. Peterson Ave.) and Myrtle Grove Playlot Park (6113 N. Neva Ave.). Tucked behind Old Norwood Park’s Metra train station sits Centennial Playlot Park (6068 N. Northwest Hwy.) that was originally owned and operated by the railroad. The Chicago-based Metra rail system eventually gave the park to the Chicago Park District, where it is still used for relaxing, casual recreation. Each of these smaller parks offers a place for younger folks to play and older folks to relax (often as their younger folks are playing). We’re partial to getting a cool mouthful of water at the drinking fountain at Centennial Playlot Park and relaxing under the shade of a tree. (It doesn’t take much to please us.)
Old Norwood Park Real Estate
As far as the geographical layout of Chicago neighborhoods goes, Old Norwood Park is rather unique. Unlike most of Chicago, the design of Old Norwood Park avoided the typical grid pattern. Instead it followed a model laid out by Riverside (a neighborhood on Chicago’s east side designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted) that utilizes mostly winding and circular streets, with occasional angular roads. Churches are scattered about on the irregularly angled street corners, many of the structures having been built decades before any of us were born. Additionally, the streets of Old Norwood Park are packed with trees and other greenery, so a neighborhood stroll is a pleasant and shaded experience.
Old Norwood Park real estate offers a decent amount of variety—from Cape Cods and ranches to bungalows and Georgians—and most on lots a bit larger than average for the city. Single-family homes are common and are often built off alleys that provide access to private garages as well as neighborhood walkways. As you might expect from a neighborhood with 'old' in its title, Old Norwood Park also contains a number of well-maintained Victorian houses dating back to the nineteenth century.
Along Old Norwood Park’s winding roads and spacious lots there are large homes with lush green yards and elegant landscaping. Some sit back from the road, tucked in among mature trees while others are closer to the street allowing residents to make good use of the wrap-around porches. The average sale price for a three-bedroom home is about $490,000, but the grand Old Norwood homes (which often have four or more bedrooms) easily surpass the million dollar mark.
In 1833, a man named Mark Noble became one of the area’s first European settlers. He constructed a house for himself that would not have been terribly impressive if not for the fact that it’s still standing today. The Noble-Seymour-Crippen House (5624 N. Newark Ave.) is believed to be Chicago’s oldest surviving building. The rather unassuming structure also possesses additions constructed by Thomas Seymour, the principal developer of the Norwood Park area, who lived in the house at the turn of the century (from nineteenth to twentieth). More additions were added by the Stuart Crippen family, thus entirely explaining the home’s rather lengthy title.
What’s on the Menu?
Old Norwood Park is pretty much exclusively a residential Chicago neighborhood. That isn’t to say there’s nothing to eat there, but we find a quick walk into the surrounding Norwood Park yields quite a few more options.
If you’re in Old Norwood Park and have a hankering for some eats, we recommend Phil’s Pizza D’Oro (6132 N. Northwest Hwy. 773-763-2285), a small pizza place that pretty much does just what you want a small pizza place to do—it serves pizza. That’s kind of a no-brainer, but don’t expect Phil’s Pizza to cater to your need for a burger or noodles. And, really, why would it? Especially when it serves up—and quickly delivers—fine pizza pies to your door. If you chose to dine in, seating is limited, by which we mean there are eight seats, which make dining a cozy experience.
If you’re willing to head over to nearby Norwood Park, you can enjoy a number of other fine restaurants, such as top-notch hot dog stand Superdawg Drive-In (6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-763-0660), Amitabul (6207 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-774-0276) vegan dining, and Trattoria Pasta D’Arte (6311 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-763-1181) to name a few.
Best Shopping Stops
Once again we point out that Old Norwood Park is primarily filled with homes—homes that, aside from the occasional garage sale, are not in the habit of selling things. Still, there are some interesting places to go if you’re in the mood to break out the old wallet.
Calico Cats Antiques (6046 N. Avondale Ave. 773-774-3458) provides a nice assortment of older items if you’re in the market for something with a little history. Tightly packed shelves display an impressive array of antiques ranging from lamps and chairs to knick-knacks and gewgaws. Perhaps antiquing is less your style than, say, fishing is. In that case you might want to check out Corens Rod & Reel Service (6001 N. Nina Ave. 773-631-5202), the local one-stop-shop for all your fishing needs. Grab some new gear, hop on the boat, and tell that bass we sent you.
Mark Your Calendar
With summertime comes summer fun, and the people of Old Norwood Park know how to do summer fun right with none other than...block parties, lots of block parties. Warm weather months in Old Norwood Park ushers in scores of both intentional and impromptu community celebrations, as residents join together to close off streets and fire up the grills. These events are often informally planned, so check with your neighbors to keep up with the festivities.
And don’t forget all the fantastic seasonal events that Old Norwood Park’s biggest park—Norwood Park—puts on all year around. In addition to what we previously mentioned, they also host a number of other family events such as Preschool Bike Day in early June. Here, children decorate their bikes and helmets before taking part in a bike parade through the park.
Along the border of Old Norwood Park and Norwood Park (the neighborhood, not the park) runs an annual event ongoing since 1922: the Norwood Park Memorial Day Parade (6634 W. Raven St. 773-497-5852). Who doesn’t like spending Memorial Day morning at the curb watching original floats and classic cars parade by to the cheers and applause of a fun-loving crowd?
Since Old Norwood Park is filled with scenic greenery, a nice stroll with the kids or the dogs is the most pleasant way to get about town. We acknowledge, however, that sometimes we don’t have time to walk, and sometimes the weather doesn’t invite outdoor activity. In these situations we turn our attention to Chicago’s excellent public transportation system (the CTA) and their stable of convenient trains and buses.
The CTA train that runs along the border of Old Norwood Park is referred to as the 'El' (or 'elevated train') because, not surprisingly, it runs on an elevated track above street level. The stop at Harlem Avenue is on the Blue Line, which runs all the way from O’Hare International Airport to the suburb of Forest Park, with stops along the way all through the city including in the downtown Chicago Loop. For those of us partial to riding the bus, there are stops on Talcott, Canfield, Foster, Harlem, and Higgins. We find grabbing bus #68 on Northwest Highway and then transferring to bus #56 offers a relatively quick trip to downtown, but feel free to experiment with different bus lines to figure out what works best for you.
In addition to all the travel options allotted you by the CTA in Old Norwood Park, the neighborhood is also home to a Metra station. Connecting downtown Chicago to the surrounding suburbs and outlying counties, the Metra is a train system that is ideal for the work commute, especially since it offers increased service during rush hours. The Old Norwood Park station is on Metra’s Union Pacific line, which links the city to McHenry County. Although a bit pricier than the 'El' or bus, the Metra offers a fine alternative to daily drives to and from work.
On the other hand, if you prefer to use your car, Old Norwood Park is right by the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94), which—barring the occasional traffic jam—provides an easy way into downtown Chicago. To thwart your parking woes, a decent number of homes in Old Norwood Park offer places for parking including garages, driveways, and well-lit back alleys. However, a sizable number of homes will force you to park your vehicle on the street and scramble for that last space.
School’s in Session
Families in Old Norwood Park have a couple of educational options for their school-age children. In addition to the following, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Since Old Norwood Park is pretty much entirely residential, some of these places were you can find your bare necessities are technically located in nearby Norwood Park—but don’t be discouraged, they are still conveniently close.
Jefferson Park Branch 5363 W. Lawrence Ave. – (312) 744-1998
Norwood Park Post Office 6300 N. Northwest Hwy. (800) ASK-USPS
Walgreens 6310 N. Nagle Ave. – (773) 774-2868
Resurrection Medical Center 7435 W. Talcott Ave. – (773) 774-8000
Dominick’s Finer Foods 6312 N. Nagle Ave. – (773) 774-6006
The Produce Center 5814 N. Milwaukee Ave. – (773) 775-3200
White Hen Pantry 6200 N. Sayre Ave. – (773) 775-2063
Curves 5854 N. Northwest Hwy. – (773) 792-9081
The following are just a taste of the dining, shopping and entertainment Old Norwood Park has to offer. Discover the rest as you explore the neighborhood for yourself.
Preschool Bike Day 5801 N. Natoma Ave. – (773) 631-4893
Noble-Seymour-Crippen House 5624 N. Newark Ave.
Calico Cats Antiques 6046 N. Avondale Ave. – (773) 774-3458
Corens Rod & Reel Service 6001 N. Nina Ave. – (773) 631-5202
Mira Drapery 6247 W. Peterson Ave. – (773) 631-5366
Down by the Station 6048 N Avondale Ave – (773) 792-0823
Phil’s Pizza D’Oro 6132 N Northwest Hwy – (773) 763-2285
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. Old Norwood Park 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 Old Norwood Park.