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 Ukrainian Village Chicago.
Ukrainian Village is on Chicago’s Near West Side. It’s on a grid, with four clear boundary streets: Western on the west, Division on the north, Damen on the east (which separates Ukrainian Village from East Village), and Chicago on the south. This is a creative and eclectic neighborhood, built by Ukrainian immigrants and now thriving with great shops, eats, and plenty of people — from hipsters to young families — interested in putting down roots in Ukrainian Village. It was even named the nation’s best neighborhood to live by Redfin in 2016.
Read on to see why it’s always a beautiful day in Ukrainian Village.
Entertainment and Eating
Ukrainian Village used to be valued for its proximity to other neighborhoods with great dining options. However, it has come into its own in recent years with a diverse mix of traditional Ukrainian restaurants and cuisine inspired by all other corners of the world.
There’s a great, easily walkable stretch of bars and restaurants on Division east of the Leavitt and the hospital, heading far past Damen into East Village (and north of the road is officially Wicker Park). This stretch includes an old-school, maritime-themed craft cocktail bar; a beer-driven pub that serves Indian food; an Argentine restaurant known for its steaks; a cafe with gelato, coffee, and dairy-free treats; and not one but two Italian spots.
That’s not all. Western has a few great spots, including a beloved mac-n-cheese joint (that’s officially on Augusta) and a French-German inspired brasserie, and WHISK, down on Chicago, is known for its brunch, all-day breakfast, burgers, and BYOB policy. There are also a few European bakeries and delis on Chicago that are worth visiting: Ann’s and Kasia’s are among the most well known.
Bite Cafe, a BYOB with vegetarian and comfort food, is on Western next to the Empty Bottle, a hole-in-the wall venue that Chicago Mag says “hosts some of the best alt music in the city.”
Coffee aficionados will love the neighborhood’s proximity to the “mothership” of Chicago roaster Dark Matter — and Star Lounge Coffee Bar, which serves Dark Matter coffee, just around the corner. Both are officially in the Smith Park neighborhood, just southwest of Ukrainian Village, but are within easy walking distance of many residents.
A typical commute to The Loop by rail from Ukrainian Village is about 30 to 35 minutes, door to door. To O’Hare Airport, it’s about 45 to 50 minutes. By car, a typical drive to The Loop without traffic would take about 15 minutes, and a trip to O’Hare would be about 20 to 30 minutes, sans traffic.
Walkscore.com gives Ukrainian Village a walk score of 94, meaning it’s a “walker’s paradise” and daily errands do not require a car. It’s the 4th most walkable neighborhood in Chicago. The neighborhood’s public transportation is excellent. It’s also a “biker’s paradise” with a fantastic score of 97. A car really isn’t necessary in this part of town.
According to Zillow, home values in Ukrainian Village declined a bit over the past year but are projected to increase by 5.9% in the next year. It’s more affordable than some of its neighbors, including Sheffield Neighbors (by over 50%) and Wicker Park. It’s just slightly more affordable than nearby Bucktown. Finally, note that you’ll often get more home for your dollar in Ukrainian Village than in either Wicker Park or Bucktown.
A Bit of History
Polish, German, and, of course, Ukrainian immigrants settled in Ukrainian Village throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are fantastic examples of late 19th century Worker’s Cottages in the neighborhood. See some at the intersection of Hoyne and Thomas Streets. Around a third of the buildings in the neighborhood’s historic landmark district were built by William D. Kerfoot. According to the City of Chicago, Kerfoot was “the first real estate developer to reestablish his business after the Great Fire in 1871 [and] became the embodiment of the ‘I Will’ spirit of Chicago. He reopened his office the day after the fire ended with a sign on his door reading: ‘W.D. Kerfoot. All gone but, wife, children and energy.'”
In 1983, Mayor Jane Byrne designated Ukrainian Village Chicago’s first official neighborhood. While Ukrainian Village is still home to plenty of its namesake heritage — from the signs in Ukrainian (only) on Chicago Avenue to the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and the Ukrainian National Museum — the Ukrainian population isn’t what it once was in the neighborhood. Sources say it reached a high of around 30,000, and it’s now around a couple thousand.
If you’d like to learn more about Ukrainian Village, I recommend exploring the following resources:
- Chicago Mag’s Ukrainian Village Field Guide (published February 2018)
- Redfin’s post on why Ukrainian Village was the best American neighborhood of 2016 (January 2016)
- Timeout Chicago’s guide for how to spend a “perfect weekend” in Ukrainian Village (August 2017)
- Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association’s website
- Community Page for Ukrainian Village (Facebook group that requires admin approval to join)
- Ukrainian Village Parents’ Group (Facebook group that requires admin approval to join)
- The City of Chicago’s information on the Ukrainian Village Chicago Landmark District
Interested in living in Ukrainian Village? Check out my upcoming residential project, the Smith Park Collection.
Please contact me directly for more information on buying a home and living in Ukrainian Village.