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 Evanston, Illinois, a suburb located just north of Chicago.
Evanston is not a Chicago neighborhood — it is its own city with its own identity, bordered by Chicago to the immediate south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north. However, many families choose to call it home because of its proximity to Chicago, which is easily accessible by car or the CTA Purple Line.
Evanston is known for being home to Northwestern University, and, in keeping with its focus on education, a great public school system.
The city has a large concentration of museums and historical sites, a public library system, plentiful green space with neighborhood parks along the lakeshore and the North Shore channel as well as scattered throughout residential areas, nine distinct business districts, renowned historical architecture along the lake (especially in the Lakeshore Historic District), and more.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Evanston.
Entertainment and Eating
Within its city borders, Evanston has over 100 dining options. It’s a respected and varied scene, offering everything from cheap eats (it is a college town, after all) to sophisticated establishments.
Here’s a smattering:
- Bennison’s Bakery has been serving up pastries — especially donuts, cinnamon rolls, and danishes — for 75 years.
- Blind Faith Cafe is a creative vegetarian/vegan restaurant.
- Wings and more at Buffalo Joe’s.
- Venezuelan street food — particularly arepas — from La Cocinita.
- Small-batch donuts from DB3 Donuts, with rotating flavors each month.
- Fresh baked bread (and sandwiches made with said bread) at Hewn.
- Farm-to-table small plates at Found Kitchen & Social House.
- The Peckish Pig is a brewpub just on the Evanston side of the suburb’s border with Chicago.
- Classic cocktails at Ward Eight.
The arts are hugely important to this community — a major benefit to living in Evanston. There is public art all around the city, over a dozen galleries, a handful of museums, live theatre, a movie theatre complex, and more.
Central Station on the Purple Line in Evanston. Photo adapted from the original by Chicago Transit Authority [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr.
A typical commute to the Loop from Evanston using public transportation is around 40 to 55 minutes, door to door. To get to O’Hare Airport via public transportation takes about an hour. By car, a typical drive to the Loop without traffic would take about 30 to 40 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be 25 to 30 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com considers Evanston very walkable. The most walkable zip codes are 60201 and 60202. Nearer the lakeshore, surrounding Chicago Ave, and further north and west along Green Bay Rd are highly walkable areas. They also classify Evanston as very bikeable (see an area bike map here) and the public transportation in the city as good.
According to Zillow, home values in Evanston increased by 2.4% over the past year and are expected to go up another 2.9% over the next year.
Living in Evanston is much more affordable than pricier areas just to the north. The median home value in Wilmette is almost double that in Evanston. In Glencoe it’s just under triple and Winnetka the homes average just over triple the price of Evanston homes. In Kenilworth, homes are quadruple the median price of those in Evanston. However, these areas are nearby, meaning Evanston residents can enjoy the country clubs and lakeshore in these pricier neighborhoods.
A Bit of History
Native Americans lived in what is now Evanston for thousands of years prior to treaties, beginning in 1795, that pushed their settlements west. The Potawatomi who had settled in the area were forced west of the Mississippi River by 1840.
Plans for Northwestern University began in 1851, and the school opened its doors in 1855. It was founded before the city of Evanston, which was officially named for University founder John Evans in 1857 and incorporated in 1892.
The population of Evanston swelled after the Chicago Fire of 1871, bringing a residential feel to the city that remains today.
During the prosperity of the 1920s, Evanston began attracting folks from the city and beyond for its shopping and entertainment. The population increased by 70 percent in the decade between 1920 and 1930. Evanston continued to urbanize for the next few decades, attracting businesses and nonprofit headquarters to its downtown well into the 1960s.
Despite Evanston’s modernity and development throughout its early history as a city, it remained dry until 1972, when the first legal alcoholic drink was served.
If you’d like to learn more about living in Evanston, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- The City of Evanston
- Evanston Chamber of Commerce
- Central Street Neighborhood Association
- Central Street, Evanston
- Citizens’ Greener Evanston
- Downtown Evanston
- The Main-Dempster Mile
- Southeast Evanston Association
- Evanston Edge
- Evanston History Center
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago Evanston entry
Interested in living in Evanston? I don’t have any any active listings in Evanston right now, but I have experience selling homes in the neighborhood and may have some listings in the near future. Please feel free to contact me for more information on buying a home in Evanston.