In this series of blog posts, we provide a summary of the neighborhoods where we’re currently listing and developing homes. In this post, I’ll be focusing on living in Albany Park Chicago.
Albany Park is the name of both a community area and a neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago, the former encompassing the latter. Other neighborhoods in the Albany Park community area include North Mayfair, Kimball, East Albany Park, and Ravenswood Manor. The North Branch of the Chicago River forms the community area’s north and east boundaries.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to focus more broadly on the community area of Albany Park but will try to highlight some specifics within its namesake neighborhood.
Albany Park is known as one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the U.S. and is home to immigrants from all over the world. It’s the wonderful type of urban neighborhood where a traditional yeshiva high school is down the street from a Christian university, which is a few blocks from a mosque, which is across the street from the American Indian Center. This diversity carries through to the locally owned businesses — making Albany Park a particularly great place for diverse dining options.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Albany Park Chicago.
Entertainment and Eating
From pho to falafel, pickled herring to pao de queijo, Albany Park restaurants offer an incredible amount of variety within a few walkable blocks. The stretch of Kedzie between Lawrence and Montrose has a particularly dense offering of great global eats. A handful of articles, like this recent one from Chicago Eater, have been written on the subject.
The Albany Park establishments range from new taprooms to institutions like Marie’s Pizza & Liquors, pictured below.
Albany Park has myriad entertainment options, from a branch of the local library to performing arts theater to the Horner Park Farmers Market.
Eugene Field Park is a fantastic community resource along the banks of the North Branch. It covers nearly 20 acres and offers sports fields and courts, a playground, and a spray pool. Next, classes from early childhood programs to adult art education take place at the park. Furthermore, the Albany Park Theatre Project, a teen ensemble that creates stories based on their lived experiences with collaboration from an adult artistic team, usually performs in the park’s Laura Wiley Theater once a year. The project was founded in 1997 and focuses on the experiences of Albany Park’s immigrant and first-generation community.
The historic fieldhouse, pictured below, features a mosaic with scenes from the work of Chicago children’s poet Eugene Field, for whom the park is named. The mosaic was created by 15 local teens in the Gallery 37 in the Parks program.
A typical commute to the Loop from Albany Park using public transportation is around 45 to 50 minutes, door to door. To get to O’Hare Airport via public transportation takes 30 to 40 minutes. By car, a typical drive to the Loop without traffic would take about 20 to 25 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be 10 to 15 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com rates Albany Park as very walkable, with good transit. The neighborhood is also considered very bikeable.
According to Zillow, the average home value in the Albany Park neighborhood is significantly lower than surrounding neighborhoods — for example, less than half of Ravenswood Manor, which is within the Albany Park community area to the neighborhood’s immediate east.
A Bit of History
The first settlers in what is now Albany Park were mostly German and Swedish farmers. It was then part of the town of Jefferson. Chicago annexed the town in 1889, and the arrival of the “L” line in 1907 led to massive development in the blocks surrounding the terminal at Kimball and Lawrence. New buildings included apartment complexes, small shops, department stores, and theaters.
It was around this time that a few bungalow enclaves, including Ravenswood Manor and what is now the North Mayfair Bungalow District, developed. (The home pictured below is from the latter development.)
Most of the immigrants settling in Albany Park in the early 20th century were Jewish. The community was predominantly Jewish until after WWII, when many families moved north to Skokie and Lincolnwood. By the 1970s, the population had decreased, and Albany Park was on hard times, struggling with abundant vacant property and crime.
However, an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America revitalized the community between 1980 and 1990, marking the early stages of the culturally diverse population that calls Albany Park home to this day.
If you’d like to learn more about living in Albany Park Chicago, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Albany Park Neighbors (including their active Facebook page)
- Communities United (formerly Albany Park Neighborhood Council)
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago’s Albany Park entry
- Albany Park Chamber of Commerce (also on Facebook)
- RedEye Chicago’s “Neighborhood guide: What to eat, drink and do in Albany Park”
- WBEZ Chicago’s “Albany Park, past and present” blog post
Interested in living in Albany Park? I don’t have any active listings in the community area; however, I represented the sale of beautiful 4049 N Richmond in late 2018 and have experience working in the neighborhood. Please feel free to contact me for more information on buying — or selling — a home in Albany Park.