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 Portage Park Chicago.
Portage Park is on Chicago’s far northwest side. As far as Chicago neighborhoods go, it’s large, covering four square miles. Portage Park is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Jefferson Park, Dunning, Belmont-Cragin, Irving Park, Harwood Heights, and Forest Glen.
This neighborhood is known for its Polish heritage, with plenty of Polish shops, restaurants, and delis representing the culture with their store fronts. Chopin Park, in Portage Park’s southern reaches, is named for the famous Polish pianist.
Much of the architecture in Portage Park is either turn-of-the-century or mid-century. The Portage Park Bungalow Historic District in particular is full of homes built in the 1920s and representing the residential architecture of that era.
The neighborhood’s 36.5-acre namesake park sits in the center of the community area and is a beautiful green space with plenty of resources. It’s host to everything from informal play on the playground equipment to events in its Olympic-sized pool to outdoor wedding ceremonies. Portage Park has fantastic programming, including woodcraft, music, gymnastics, boxing, and seasonal sports teams. A senior center was built in 2003 and a dog-friendly area was added to the park in 2011.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Portage Park.
Entertainment and Eating
Filament Theatre is a more recent addition to the Portage Park community known for its family-friendly programming. The Patio Theater is a beautiful old building with a 1,000-seat cinema showing classic films and live entertainment.
Community members — particularly craft beer aficionados — are happy about a newcomer to the neighborhood, Fischman Public House & Bottle Shop. They just moved down the street from Jefferson Park in July 2018 and promptly had their new location written up in Chicago Mag’s September 2018 Hot List.
Portage Park also has a wide range of mainstays: traditional Polish dishes in a romantic, white tablecloth setting; a neighborhood pub that’s named after the owner of the first tavern in the neighborhood; a welcoming Italian spot that’s been in Portage Park for over 50 years; a cozy breakfast and brunch cafe where everything is made from scratch; and a casually elegant New American restaurant that prides itself on being kid-friendly. And we’ve heard good things about the food at this small new cafe.
Love coffee and community? Portage Grounds is part coffee shop, part community gathering space. Also, neighbors Perkolator (coffee shop) and Sputnik Books & Records make for a fun, well-named pairing.
A typical commute to The Loop by rail from Portage Park is about 50 to 55 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s about 30 to 40 minutes. By car, a typical drive to The Loop without traffic would take about 20 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be about 15 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com gives Portage Park a walk score of 74, meaning it’s very walkable. The neighborhood’s public transit is good, and it’s considered bikeable, with some bike infrastructure — including bike-friendly efforts at Six Corners.
According to Zillow, home values in Portage Park have increased 1.7% over the past year and are projected to increase by 5.3% in the next year. It’s more affordable than nearby Forest Glen (by 23%) and Old Irving Park (by about 7%).
A Bit of History
Portage Park proper was created in 1913 by the Old Portage Park District. This district was named for nearby routes that Native Americans and fur traders used to portage their canoes between the DesPlaines and Chicago Rivers. Learn more about the park’s history on its Chicago Park District webpage.
Six Corners is a shopping district that has an interesting history of its own. It’s comprised of the area surrounding the intersection of Irving Park Road, Cicero Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue, on the east side of the Portage Park neighborhood (not to be confused with another similar intersection in Wicker Park…). Six Corners was built around Portage Theater, which was built in the 1920s, first and the Sears store that joined the area in 1938. This was the first Sears location to be air conditioned, and was the last Sears store standing in Chicago when it was slated to be closed earlier this year. It’s known for its art deco appearance. The area continued to build up until there were 150 stores at Six Corners in the 1980s. Some businesses have closed in recent years, though many are expecting a turnaround and are anxious to see what comes of the Portage Theater under new ownership.
If you’d like to learn more about Portage Park, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- The Six Corners Association website
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago Six Corners entry
- A Portage Park writeup from a resident on Neighborhoods.com (March 2018)
- Curbed Chicago’s Portage Park archives (dig through for real estate highlights through the years)
- A Forbes article on Portage Park and Old Irving Park titled “If You Love Food and Drinks, This Chicago Neighborhood Needs To Be On Your List”
Interested in living in Portage Park? Please contact me directly for more information on buying a home and putting down roots in the area.