Ravenswood Gardens is a small family-oriented neighborhood near bustling Western Avenue and just south of Lincoln Square on the far north side of Chicago. Tightly-packed with brick flats and individual houses, this residential enclave offers schools and park space in a quiet riverside setting, removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Because of its tranquil, countryside appeal injected with (but not overwhelmed by) a distinctly urban flavor, Ravenswood Gardens residents are happy to spend an afternoon picnicking in the park or tossing around the football with the fam.
Ravenswood Gardens Facts
Location: about 8 miles northwest of the Loop
Boundaries: Wilson Avenue to the north, Western Avenue to the east, Montrose Avenue to the south and the North Branch of the Chicago River to the west
Bordering Neighborhoods: Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, North Center, Ravenswood Manor, Irving Park
Then and Now
In the mid 1800s, the area around Ravenswood Gardens developed primarily as an agricultural spot for growing pickles, celery and flowers. Also sharing business with the tranquil farmlands that occupied the terrain was a rudimentary delivery industry, which supplied the immediate region with these products via horse-drawn wagons.
An industrial corridor emerged on Ravenswood Avenue along the North Western Railway tracks, just east of present-day Ravenswood Gardens neighborhood. A physician named Wallace Abbott established Abbott Laboratories in the late 19th century, which was one of several fast-growing companies that set up shop in this rapidly developing neighborhood. The lab attracted workers to the area, which in turn caught the interest of folks that wanted to settle in the relatively empty neighborhood. Electric streetcars soon began servicing the region, attracting more newcomers to the newly-built bungalows and apartment buildings.
Two of the new residential subdivisions near Ravenswood, Ravenswood Gardens and Ravenswood Manor, traded on the Ravenswood name, which was synonymous with quality residential development in the area at the time. Ravenswood Gardens followed suit with well-built apartment buildings, brick bungalows and two- and three-flats. Many of the inhabitants who moved into the new housing were Greek immigrants. They established numerous small businesses and St. Demetrios church, which created a fresh sense of diversity in Ravenswood Manor, Ravenswood Gardens and nearby Lincoln Square that had, until then, had been solidly German and Polish.
The tiny neighborhoods of Ravenswood Manor and Ravenswood Gardens teamed-up in 1914 to form a park district in order to preserve some of the better natural land in the area. Over the next decade the community worked hard to acquire land and develop it into parkland. By the 1920s, a beautiful garden opened facing the North Branch of the Chicago River decorated with an ornamental fountain and lush shrubbery which soon came to be known as Sunken Gardens Park.
Unfortunately, none of these beautiful features survived the downward spiral that the neighborhood—and the country—experienced as a result of the Great Depression. After World War II the neighborhood was lifted for awhile as returning GIs and new families sought an abundance of housing. The nearby commercial strip along Western Avenue expanded and grew as more shops and services found their way to the area.
The neighborhood has experienced its share of adjustments over the years but recently it has surged in popularity along with its nearby neighbors Lincoln Square and Ravenswood. Ravenswood Gardens has all the charm of other north side neighborhoods, but is just a bit further removed from the overcrowding hassles that can plague the more well-known Chicago communities.
Ravenswood Gardens has one small park that residents are quite fond of, since it was their initiative that resulted in the establishment of this riverside recreation spot almost a hundred years before.
Although Sunken Gardens Park (4500 N Virginia Ave., 773-478-3499) was once controlled by a private group of homeowners, today it is administered by the Chicago Park District. The loveliest feature of the park is its setting on the North Branch of the Chicago River. This is the perfect place to relax under a tree with a picnic lunch or read a book in the shade. There is a wide recreation area perfect for setting up a volleyball net, throwing a football around or just tossing around a Frisbee.
And while Ravenswood Gardens residents take great pride in their own park, they also appreciate the larger sprawling grounds of Welles Park in the nearby Ravenswood neighborhood, which has well-maintained walking paths, tennis courts, baseball fields, a horseshoe pitch, and an indoor swimming pool and workout facility. And it’s all located just across the street on the other side of Western Avenue.
Ravenswood Gardens Real Estate
Ravenswood Gardens is a tight-knit neighborhood with quiet, shady streets lined with two-and three-flats, some brick bungalows, condominium conversions, and a section of single-family homes. A few of these houses are vintage Victorian-style dwellings set back from the street on good-size lots surrounded by privacy-providing greenery and grand entry pillars. The interiors boast hardwood floors and moldings, stained-glass windows and a classic charm that’s hard to recreate in today’s modern residential constructions.
Condominium conversions of multi-unit apartment buildings have become increasingly popular in the area, but there are still good deals available on stately, multi-level single-family homes. If you are interested in a private house, the price can range from $375,000 to close to a million dollars, depending on the architectural design, age, and condition of the home. But most folks in Ravenswood Gardens choose to live in one of the many available condos or townhomes. Because some units occupy newer constructions or reside in renovated older low-rises, and some are situated in vintage courtyard buildings, the range in price varies quiet a bit. Generally speaking though, you can get a two-bedroom condo for as low as $200,000 in Ravenswood Gardens neighborhood. If you’re looking for a three-bedroom unit, the listings start in the low to mid $300,000s but go up to $600,000 for a brand new place with two-car garage parking.
Although the neighborhood is mostly composed of families, singles and young couples find the area just as attractive, with the action, nightlife, and restaurants of Lincoln Square so close by. Many first-time buyers look to this section of town for affordable property in good condition that isn’t too far away from downtown.
What’s on the Menu?
Ravenswood Gardens is a rather tiny, primarily residential community that doesn’t have much of a dining scene. But, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s proximity to Lincoln Square is handy because the next-door neighborhood offers an abundance of restaurants to suit any taste and draws Chicagoans from all around to eat in the quaint north side environs of the city.
That’s not to say Ravenswood Gardens is completely hopeless when it comes to eating out. Our favorite place in the neighborhood to grab breakfast is Lutz Continental Cafe & Pastry (2458 W. Montrose Ave., 773-478-7785). They have recently redesigned their outdoor seating area, so in the summer it’s a great spot to sit under an umbrella and listen to the babble of the nearby fountain. They do wonderful crepes, eggs Benedict, and French toast, which can be topped with toasted pecans, strawberries or sliced bananas. Is your mouth watering yet? The coffee is their own brand, and they feature a different selection every month, so we always have reason to go back … as if their delectable dishes weren’t enough! Lutz is a full-service bakery as well as a breakfast cafe so if you need a cake for a special occasion they have you covered. The pastries include a huge selection of coffee cakes, tortes, strudels and sweet rolls. Also, if you are a chocoholic like us, they have amazing hand-dipped imported Swiss chocolate which they sell in specialty boxes. Lutz’s chocolates contain no artificial flavoring, additives or preservatives, so even though you may be indulging you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Ravenswood Gardens is about two miles west of Lake Shore Drive and three miles east of I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway). By car, the neighborhood is easy to find. From the Kennedy Expressway exit at Montrose Avenue and drive east until you reach the North Branch of the Chicago River. If it is not baseball season and there is no Cubs game traffic to contend with, you may be better off exiting at Irving Park because it is four lanes and tends to move a little faster than Montrose. Then you’ll just need to shoot north a few blocks to hit the neighborhood. If you’re driving in from the east side, take Lake Shore Drive up to Montrose Avenue and head west to Western Avenue. Piece of cake.
Well, almost a piece of cake … Montrose and Western avenues can get quite busy, especially during the morning and evening rush hours, so if at all possible avoid these streets at those times. Within Ravenswood Gardens, parking is generally easy to find on the side streets, but you may have to circle for awhile to find a metered spot on Western or Montrose. Even when it’s not mad commuter mania these streets remain fairly active.
If you plan on leaving the vehicle at home and taking public transit to get around, hop on the CTA bus #78 running east and west along Montrose Avenue. This line transports passengers all the way to the lakeshore in case you feel like hitting the beaches. Or, if you’re headed to Wicker Park, catch the #49 or the #49X (express) south to Milwaukee Avenue. Another piece of cake.
Not officially within the neighborhood borders, but close enough to count as 'within walking distance,' there are two CTA Brown Line 'El' stops along Eastwood Avenue at Western Avenue and Lincoln Avenue. And, if you were wondering, we call the train/subway system here the El because sections of the tracks are elevated above street level. It actually affords a wonderful view of the city as you’re traveling to your destination.
School’s in Session
Ravenswood Gardens has a couple of elementary schools right within blocks of each other, offering families some options for where to send those little bundles of joy off to class. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago area schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Queen of Angels Catholic Elementary School 4520 N Western Ave – (773) 769-4211
Waters Elementary School 4540 N Campbell Ave – (773) 534-5090
Sometimes the toughest part about moving to a new location can be figuring out where the closest place is to get those simple everyday items that are essential to life—you know, milk, eggs, shampoo, stamps, a spot to get that morning cup of coffee … . Well, lucky for you newbies to the area, we’ve compiled a sampling of a few sites where you can get your bare necessities in Ravenswood Garden neighborhood.
Public Library Branch (Sulzer Regional Library) 4455 N. Lincoln Ave. – (312) 744-7616
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Post Office (Ravenswood) 2522 W. Lawrence Av. 1-800-ASK-USPS
Walgreens 4801 Lincoln Ave. – (773) 561-2526
Hospital Emergency Room
Ravenswood Hospital Urgent Care Center 4025 N Western Ave – (773) 866-6940
Queen of Angels Gym 4416 N Western Ave – (773) 539-7730
Aldi 2431 W Montrose Ave – (773)
Joe’s Market 4452 N. Western Ave. – (773) 478-5443
Lutz Continental Cafe & Pastry 2458 W. Montrose Ave. – (773) 478-7785
Los Nopales Mexican Restaurant 4544 N. Western Ave. – (773) 334-3149
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. Ravenswood Gardens 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 Ravenswood Gardens.