I’ve been living in Kenwood since June 2016. I was attracted to this neighborhood for its history and diversity, the beautiful historic architecture, the ease of getting downtown, and its proximity to everything Hyde Park, just to the south, has to offer — with a cheaper price tag.
Kenwood is on Chicago’s south side and runs from 43rd Street (aka Muddy Waters Drive) south to 51st Street (aka Hyde Park Boulevard). Cottage Grove Avenue is Kenwood’s western boundary and Lake Michigan forms a natural border on the east.
The neighborhood has plenty of smaller parks as well as abundant green space on the lakeshore. We even have our own beautiful branch of the Chicago Public Library system, Blackstone. It was built in 1904 and was the first branch of the Chicago Public Library. Blackstone was renovated in the 1980s.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Kenwood.
Entertainment and Eating
One of the great things about Kenwood is that it has such a residential feel in an urban setting. It’s not quite a hub for dining; however, we do have our fair share of eating establishments, some just outside of the neighborhood boundaries but within easy reach.
Bronzeville is west and northwest of Kenwood and offers many great spots, from sweet cafes to classic bakeshops to à la carte seafood joints. On the north side of the neighborhood, there’s Norman’s Bistro for high-end Creole dishes and a wine bar, or Some Like It Black Creative Arts Bar for organic eats and live entertainment. Just south of Kenwood, in Hyde Park, are myriad restaurants, including upscale French fare, hip eateries and bars, and, as always, breweries. Finally, Gorée Cuisine offers Senegalese food right in the heart of Kenwood.
The arts are flourishing in Chicago’s SE side, and Kenwood is no exception. Little Black Pearl is a great organization with arts programming for youth with an art and design space in the center of the neighborhood. Two more fantastic community resources include Harper Theater, a historic venue screening wide-release films, and the Hyde Park Art Center, which has major exhibitions and frequent events. Also, be sure to catch the Hyde Park Jazz Society play their weekly Sunday shows at Room 43.
A typical commute to The Loop by rail from Kenwood is about 15 to 20 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s about an hour and 10 minutes. By car, a typical drive to The Loop without traffic would take about 10 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be about 25 to 30 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com gives Kenwood a walk score of 79, meaning it’s “very walkable.” The neighborhood’s public transportation is considered good, and it’s very bikeable.
According to Zillow, home values in Kenwood went up 6.3% over the past year and are projected to increase by 8% in the next year. It’s much more affordable than some of its neighbors, including Oakland and Hyde Park, where median home values are 67% and 30% higher, respectively.
A Bit of History
An image of the historic Kenwood Hotel, used on a postcard circa 1900. View the other side of the postcard here.
Like many neighborhoods on the north side of Chicago, Kenwood was developed in the mid-19th century by those looking to get out of the city’s downtown. Dr. John A. Kennicott is considered the founder of Kenwood. He built his home near the Illinois Central Railroad tracks at 48th Street and named it after his ancestral Scottish land. The name stuck.
Many of the city’s greats built giant homes over the years, taking advantage of Kenwood’s shoreline. There are also a handful of fantastic Art Deco high-rises from the early 1900s. The Powhatan Apartments and the Chicago Beach Hotel (now Regents Park) are on the National Register of Historic Places and can both be found in Kenwood’s Indian Village district.
Famous Kenwood residents have included Barack and Michelle Obama, Muhammad Ali, longtime White Sox owner Bill Veeck, Muddy Waters, the first female African American Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Louis Farrakhan, Elijah Muhammad, former US Attorney General Edward Levi, and more.
Famous Kenwood residences and buildings include too many to name, though one name is too widely recognized to skip: Frank Lloyd Wright’s George Blossom House. This Chicago Magazine article from January 2018 offers a peek into some of these historic homes (when they were for sale!). The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a 2-hour, $15 walking tour of the neighborhood.
The Warren McArthur House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1892. Learn more about this home from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust website. Photo by Teemu003 via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.
If you’d like to learn more about Kenwood, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago’s Kenwood entry
- A Chicago Tribune article on real estate in Kenwood and Hyde Park (from February 2016 — somewhat outdate but good for context)
Please contact me directly for more information on buying a home and living in Kenwood. I love talking about my neighborhood!