In this series of blog posts, we’re providing a summary of the neighborhoods where we’re currently listing and developing homes.
Bordered by Edgebrook Golf course on the north and running (somewhat unofficially [PDF]) to Montrose Ave on the south end, Jefferson Park is named for the neighborhood green space and is known for its Polish heritage and its family-friendly community. Some homes within the Jefferson Park neighborhood fall within the school attendance zone of Beaubien Elementary, which is consistently ranked among Chicago’s top schools. Other community schools rank well, too. For the academically minded of all ages, Jefferson Park has its own neighborhood library branch.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Jefferson Park.
Entertainment and Eating
Jefferson Park is full of quintessential Chicago bungalows, but it’s also home to some quirky local businesses. I’m talking about places like Chris’s Billiards, famous for its depiction in the 1986 rendition of The Color of Money, with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. The pool hall sits above Cosmic Bikes, which used to be in Wicker Park and moved out to Jefferson Park last year. Plus, American Science & Surplus‘s retail location is the go-to place when you need a gift for the lovable nerd(s) in your life.
The Copernicus Center is Jefferson Park’s arts hub. The venue used to be the Gateway Theater, which was built in 1930 and was the first theater in Chicago made to show “talkies”. It was remodeled as a Polish Cultural Center with programming beginning in 1982. Since 1985, according to the Copernicus Center’s Facebook page, “the theater has been utilized for a wide variety of programs, not only Polish in nature, but also those of other ethnic groups which do not have their own facilities, e.g. East Indian, Spanish, Korean, Philippine, etc., as well as various Chicago communities and organizations.”
The neigbhorhood is also home to The Gift Theatre, whose mission is “is to tell great stories onstage with honesty and simplicity.” They put on shows ranging from improv to avant grade. And the Ed Paschke Art Center serves as both a museum/gallery for the eponymous artist’s work and as an educational resource center for community youth.
Recently the neighborhood played host to a fun intersection of the art and food scenes: The Filament Theatre used neighborhood gathering place Fannie’s Cafe as the setting of their experiential play (read: they fed the audience)! Other Jefferson Park food highlights include standby Gale Street Inn, where they’ve been serving ribs since 1963; Smak-Tak for authentic Polish food; Cafe Marbella Tapas for an old-world Spanish tapas experience (and BYOB!); and Andy’s Deli, an institution that’s been providingPolish sausages and other specialty meats for Jefferson Park residents since 1918. Lastly, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the annual event Taste of Polonia. People gather from far and wide every September to celebrate the neighborhood’s Polish roots.
A typical commute to The Loop by rail from the Jefferson Park is about 50 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s about 30 minutes. By car, a typical drive to The Loop without traffic would take about 20 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare is 10 to 15 minutes.
Walkscore.com gives Jefferson Park a walk score of 72, meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot. There are both L and Metra stops in Jefferson Park, and it’s where 13 bus routes terminate, so public transportation from the neighborhood is a breeze.
Jefferson Memorial Park sits on seven acres and offers a wide-range of recreation and activities, including an outdoor pool and three tennis courts, as well as seasonal concerts from the Citywide Orchestra.
According to Zillow, home values in Jefferson Park have gone up 2.3% in the past year and are projected to go up 2.1% in the next year. The median home value in this neighborhood is about 25% less than Forest Glen to the north; buying in Jefferson Park is a great way to save money but enjoy the benefits of this more expensive nearby neighborhood.
A Bit of History
An old print of Jefferson Park Chicago via Wikimedia Commons
Kennedy Expy running through neighborhood, from NW to SE, as well as the central bus terminal both hark back to Jefferson Park’s history as a transportation hub. According to Chicago Magazine, Native American trails converged on what is now Jefferson Park back in the 1800s. Furthermore, Milwaukee Avenue used to be a trail into Chicago’s heart, and Jefferson Park was on the way. Today’s bus terminal is where the Wentworth Tavern, a meeting point for those heading into the city and the area’s “first business,” used to stand.
If you’d like to learn more about Jefferson Park, I’d recommend exploring the following resources:
- DNAinfo’s Jefferson Park neighborhood news
- Choose Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood guide
- Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce (don’t miss their annual music festival in August)
- Northwest Chicago Historical Society: they post interesting tidbits to their Facebook page and organize meetups throughout the year
- Chicago Magazine’s “A Field Guide to Jefferson Park” from September 2016
Please contact me directly for more information on Jefferson Park, including current and upcoming listings.