Lush, exclusive and serene, Peterson Woods is a tiny wedge of a Chicago neighborhood bound by water and urban greenscapes. A distinctive subdivision encircled by six other neighborhoods, Peterson Woods has defined itself as its own residential entity with the beautiful open environs of Legion Park cutting through its western half. Well-crafted, ornate brick homes on oversized lots are remnants of Peterson Woods' past community members who prided themselves on exceptional construction skills. Many of the residences reflect the architectural style of early to mid 1900s, while a wave of new development has brought the neighborhood into the 21st century with state-of-the-art condominiums. Peterson Woods offers a streak of flavorful cuisine that lean toward a Far East tinge at the string of local restaurants on Lincoln Avenue.
Peterson Woods Facts
Location: about 11 miles northwest of the Loop
Boundaries: Lincoln Avenue to the north, California Avenue to the east, Bryn Mawr Avenue to the south and the North Branch of the Chicago River to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: West Rogers Park, Arcadia Terrace, Budlong Woods, North Park, Hollywood Park
Then and Now
The Peterson Woods neighborhood may be tiny in acreage, but its history is rich in character and architectural beauty that has shaped the community’s identity into what it is today.
Pioneer nurseryman Pehr Samuel Peterson, who eventually settled in Chicago after emigrating from his native Sweden to the States in 1850, founded the neighborhood now known as Peterson Woods. After spending some time on the east coast, Peterson arrived in Chicago in 1854 to start his own tree nursery on the city’s northwest side, and ultimately acquired more than 500 acres of land for his tree farm. While much of the property was used for the growth of his nursery, a portion of it—including Peterson Woods—became a residential community for Swedish immigrants.
Peterson’s accomplishments changed the urban aesthetic of Chicago. While mastering his horticultural craft, he developed innovative techniques for transplanting large trees from his nursery. Soon Peterson’s trees shaded a plethora of local parks and boulevards, including Jackson Park, which hosted the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. As a member of the Peterson Woods community, Peterson remained active in Swedish-American civic and religious groups. His work was so far-reaching that even the King of Sweden knighted him for his overseas accomplishments.
After Peterson died in 1903, the community of Peterson Woods continued to thrive. Already annexed to Chicago in the 1890s, the region was flourishing as a residential enclave, with a portion of land allotted to Peterson’s passion for growing trees. Residential development shifted away from the area when the Peterson family donated 160 acres to the city of Chicago for a municipal tuberculosis sanitarium. As the western world’s leading killer at the time, the facility aimed to improve public hygiene; but with the advent of new drugs, the sanitarium became less useful in the coming decades. By the mid 20th century, the sanitarium would be torn down and the former lot (which was just northwest of Peterson Woods) would become an entirely separate neighborhood known as Peterson Park.
Peterson Woods, in the meantime, continue to grow as a residential community. From the 1920s to the 1950s, custom-built homes began to give the neighborhood a kind of 'story-book' charm that continues to define it today. Nearby infrastructure projects, including the construction of the Sanitary District Canal, kept the bread-winners of local families at work, even during the Depression Era of the 1930s.
The neighborhood remained largely tied to its Swedish-American roots until the 1970s, when Peterson Woods saw a multicultural influx of Middle Easterners, Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans who wanted to settle down in the outer city limits and beyond. With property values soaring in the area, the new residents were mainly well-educated, affluent families. And, for the most part, much of the region’s demographic tapestry remains unchanged to this day.
Also known by locals as River Park, Legion Park (W. Peterson Ave. to W. Foster Ave. at the Chicago River) shines as the focal point of the Peterson Woods neighborhood. With its array of ball fields and riverfront walks, it serves as a gathering place for members of the closely-knit north side community.
Originally part of the River Park District, Legion Park became part of the Chicago Parks system when all independent districts were consolidated in 1934. It assumed the name 'Legion Park' to honor local veterans of World War I. Shortly after it was taken under the wing of the CPD, Peterson Woods’ coveted recreation site along the river bank garnered new amenities, including a playground, volleyball court, softball field and outdoor gymnasium. Over the years, improvements and expansion have provided residents with even more leisure space and opportunities.
In the 1960s, Legion Park experienced a period of growth, when the Park District began to charter additional property on both sides of the channel around which it was established. Seven years later, it acquired even more leased land, bringing the total acreage of the grounds up to nearly 50. As the park grew, so did the structural features, including the creation of concrete walkways, bike paths and playgrounds along the length of Legion Park. In 1999, the Park District purchased a portion of land at the corner of Lincoln and Peterson avenues from the Public Building Commission and removed a dilapidated motel that stood on the premises. The vacant plot was then redesigned to house an ornamental fountain, serving as a stately gateway into the park. Today, Legion Park runs along a lean strip of land between several north side Chicago neighborhoods, straddling the banks of the Chicago River in an unprecedented display of scenic urban beauty.
Peterson Woods Real Estate
Real Estate investors and sellers often dub Peterson Woods one of Chicago’s 'Secret Havens.' The natural preserve of the North Shore Channel and Legion Park have made it a serene getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.
While Swedish immigrants initially rooted the community, Peterson Woods underwent its second wave of development between 1920 and 1940 to accommodate the increasing population of working-class residents who had earning power, thanks to their well-paying construction jobs in the North Shore Sanitary Canal District. As a result, ornate brick homes situated on large lots characterize much of the neighborhood streets, while new developers are coming in to erect state-of-the-art condominiums that boast everything from heated underground parking to 21st century digital security systems. As if the beautiful properties and well-crafted architectural styles weren’t enough, homebuyers are attracted to living in Peterson Woods because of its reputation for top-notch schools, shopping options and transportation in the surrounding area.
Detached single-family homes in the Peterson Woods go for a wide range of prices. You can find a small one-story house for as low as $300,000 in Peterson Woods, but most of these properties are older models that need a little interior redecorating—if you catch the drift. On the other hand, there are stunning two-story stone and brick houses in the neighborhood that are priced in the high $600,000s up to the high $700,000s. These stately homes exude grandeur that inspires great pride in the folks who live in this north side Chicago community.
In between the two extremes are a number of classic red and yellow brick bungalows that are comfortable and attractive by any standard. For anyone interested in more modern living options, condos are the best avenues to explore around here. Condos in Peterson Woods neighborhood start around $170,000. Many of the units occupy vintage buildings while others are found in more simplistic low-rise structures. On the higher end of the price spectrum are the new construction condos which are listed for as much as $425,000 for a three-bedroom with garage parking.
What’s on the Menu?
Peterson Woods residents don’t have to stray too far to find flavorful cuisine—we suggest you start on Lincoln Avenue where two separate Asian-influenced dining spots will vie for your appetite with incredible aromas that waft out onto the street. We’ll be diplomatic about it and tell you about both options—that way it’s up to you to decide where to go. We satisfy our sushi craving at Matsu Shita (5854 N Lincoln Ave, 773-728-7274), a no-frills sushi bar that you may miss if you don’t keep your eyes peeled. Located on the curving spine of the Lincoln Bend (a bustling section of Lincoln Avenue), a neon sign that reads 'SUSHI' illuminates the front window—the only indication that chefs are rolling up maki inside the doorway. Prices are exceptional as far as sushi goes, and the menu includes Japanese noodle dishes along with tea, sake and extra dry beer. We recommend pairing the spicy tuna crunch with a large, thirst-quenching Ashai beer to start off—we think it’s their best roll and the best brew—but you’ll have to be your own judge.
One of the most popular Asian dining destinations in the city resides in Peterson Woods. Solga (5828 N Lincoln Ave, 773-728-0802) is known for having some of the best Korean barbeque in Chicago. Whether we order it from the kitchen or tableside, portions are always large and served steaming hot. The dining room boasts traditional or hibachi style tables along with muted lighting and casual, friendly service. Menu standouts included the wang man do dumplings, which teeter on the plate like giant golf balls. These king size Korean dumplings are steamed and come filled with pork or vegetables. We also recommend the duck gook (rice dumpling soup) or soon doo boo chinge (spicy tofu stew) for the vegetarian in all of us. Prices are moderate and waits can be long on the weekends, but you’re patience is sure to be rewarded.
For a sweet end to you meal, consider a flavorful tea treat from Boba Bee (5868 N Lincoln Ave, 773-572-8938). This cozy cafe specializes in flavored boba teas (often pronounced bubble in English), which are served cold and flavored with one of 45 different fruits or spices. Bobas, or small tapioca balls, are added to the mix and shimmy around the bottom of your cup. And every now and again you’re lucky enough to suck one up through the straw. The flavor is intense but sweetly delicious. In addition to sweet boba tea, Boba Bee offers regular teas, ice cream, and baked goods. The red velvet couches make it a perfect place to lounge for a while and read, study or socialize. And for the weekend crowd, they are open until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
Best Shopping Spots
Let’s not kid ourselves, Peterson Woods is a small Chicago neighborhood and we don’t expect it to be able to support an all-day shopping bender. However, tucked in among the restaurants and other businesses along Lincoln Avenue, there are two unique shops that may provide the perfect gift or metaphysical twist you’ve been searching for.
First, channel the power of spiritual healing at Chinese Herbs (5812 N Lincoln Ave, 773- 989-0239), where you’ll find a barrage of healing tonics, raw herbs and natural supplements. Once past the threshold of this tiny Lincoln Avenue storefront, patrons feel instantly relaxed and as a Zen-like tranquility takes hold. Inside, the sweet smells of sandalwood incense permeate the air while neat shelves filled with books, candles and herbs can keep you browsing for hours. The helpful staff will be able to point you towards the right products, depending on what you need. Looking for something to help purify and detoxify? Then try the Japanese cactus. The power denrobium is good for sharpening vision and the function of the kidneys—who knew? Of course, that’s just a taste of the intriguing and mystifying products you’ll find inside this charming metaphysical mecca.
For an even deeper exploration of the spiritual realm, pop into Word of Life Bookstore (5788 N Lincoln Ave, 773-509-1110), where healing takes on a more literary form. Browse through stacks of paperback and hardcover books, many specializing in Eastern philosophy and the overall Celestine Vision (we could explain what this is in detail, but if you’re that interested, you should really just stop in read up on it yourself). The shop also carries a variety of beautiful journals that make wonderful gifts. So whether you are curious about the lofty exploration of divinity or need to get some herbs for whatever ails you, these two Peterson Woods stores carve the perfect niche for the spiritually inspired shopper.
Mark Your Calendar
While Peterson Woods doesn’t host its own neighborhood festival, the scenic Legion Park does play host to a summer concert series that families from all the surrounding neighborhoods enjoy.
The popular Chicago Park District program, 'Concerts in the Park,' makes an appearance at Legion Park (W. Peterson Ave. to W. Foster Ave) on designated nights during the warm weather months. As part of the citywide concert series that features more than 80 shows throughout summer, Concerts in the Park features a variety of music, from salsa and reggae to jazz and rock. Peterson Woods residents pack up a blanket and the kids and head over to the park grounds for this free outdoor event that brings the entire neighborhood out for a little evening entertainment. A slew of different musical groups and genres of bands perform at this fun summertime staple, but no matter who is playing, it’s bound to be a memorable experience for kids and parents alike.
Peterson Woods is such a serene community, that we sometimes feel as if we are removed from city life altogether. Good thing there are still plenty of public transportation options and motorist routes to get us from here to there.
While Peterson Woods lacks its own CTA train stop, there are three Brown Line stations just south of the neighborhood. Travelers can take a bus down to the stations: Francisco (which is on the west bank of the Chicago River), Rockwell (east of the river), and Western (located on Western Avenue at Eastwood Avenue). Buses crisscross throughout the area but the most useful for getting downtown is the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus, which travels diagonally towards the city’s center. The #49B Western Avenue bus is a few blocks east of Peterson Woods, but the line is handy for getting to the Brown Line or heading south fairly quickly. The #93 California Avenue bus runs north/south and travels along the eastern most border of the neighborhood.
Peterson Woods is located about halfway between I-94 (Edens Expressway) and Lake Shore Drive, so if you’re traveling by car, it’s pretty much a toss-up on which route is best for destinations outside the neighborhood. It’s around a 15-minute drive in either direction, depending on traffic lights. When you aren’t gallivanting off to other parts of the city and are just cruising around the neighborhood instead, Lincoln Avenue is the main drag where there are plenty of metered parking spots to dock the car at while doing a few errands or having a bite to eat. The rest of the roads in Peterson Park are low-volume residential streets that typically require permits for overnight parking. Vehicle owners can purchase permit stickers from the city of Chicago so as to avoid any pricey tickets.
Whenever we are traveling within the neighborhood, we prefer to use the age-old pedestrian form of transportation to get around Peterson Woods. Thanks to its lush green character, classic architecture, well-kept sidewalks, and beautifully landscaped yards, walking is our favorite mode of transit in this small north side Chicago neighborhood.
School’s in Session
Peterson Woods neighborhood is home to two private elementary schools that provide alternatives for families interested in something beyond public education.
Catering to the Jewish population in the Peterson Woods vicinity (particularly in the Rogers Park and West Rogers Park neighborhoods) Bais Yaakov Hebrew Parochial School (3200 W Peterson Ave, 773-583-5329) offers elementary school classes for kindergarten through eighth graders. Much of their curriculum is integrated with the Jewish faith, in addition to offering full music and art programs. On the quiet streetscape of Peterson Park’s southeast corner is Jamieson Elementary School (5650 N Mozart St, 773-534-2395). This academically savvy school caters to students who are gifted in math, science, reading, and history—to name a few. Unique Jamieson programs, such as the Academic Bowl, history and science fairs, and the robotics club, continue to place in the top tier of annual city competitions. And after completing their primary education courses, many Jamieson students go on to attend the premiere high schools in the Chicago area.
In addition to the following list of Peterson Woods neighborhood education facilities, you can find more information on other Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Bais Yaakov Hebrew Parochial School 3200 W Peterson Ave - (773) 583-5329
Jamieson Elementary School 5650 N Mozart St - (773) 534-2395
Peterson Woods is a pocketsize residential community that doesn’t have much more than a couple schools and a few commercial establishments. So if you’re looking for groceries, sundries or stamps, you’ll have more luck if you check out the nearby neighboring communities, such as Arcadia Terrace or Budlong Woods—don’t worry, they’re still only blocks away from your front door. But just so you know what you can get within the borders of Peterson Park neighborhood, we’ve rounded up a short list of the local businesses.
Chicago Transit Authority - (888) 968-7282
Chinese Herbs 5812 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 989-0239
Word of Life Bookstore 5788 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 509-1110
Hub’s Restaurant 5540 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 784-4228
Matsu Shita 5854 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 728-7274
Solga 5828 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 728-0802
Boba Bee 5868 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 572-8938
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 Peterson Woods 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 Peterson Woods, 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 Peterson Woods, all without ever having to go anywhere.