Don’t let its literal name fool you! North Center is a charming urban neighborhood, offering quiet residential streets tucked away from the hustle of the city, with easy access to great shopping and restaurants along Lincoln Avenue and in sub-neighborhood, Roscoe Village.
Originally a part of the city’s industrial expansion – an area that was once home to many factories and brickyards, North Center stretches from Montrose Avenue to Diversey Avenue and Streys as far east as Ravenswood Avenue, butting up to the Chicago River on its west end. Comprised mainly of single-family homes dating to the early 20th century, there is also a smattering of two-flats, rehab condos and traditional townhouses to be had. More grown-up than neighboring Lakeview, North Center is a great place to graduate to home ownership or start a family.
Public Amenities, Services, Civic Organizations
One look at the North Center’s Chamber of Commerce website and you can see that this is a community that tempers hipness with a sense of sophistication. Residents can enjoy a summer concert in the square, a little league game in Hamlin Park or stock-up on fresh produce at the North Center Farmers Market (runs Saturdays, June – October). A hungry mob descends annually on the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Avenues for Ribfest Chicago, which has become one of Chicago’s most steadfast street festivals.
North Center boasts a wide variety of desirable real estate options that range from stately Victorians and traditional homes with welcoming front porches to modern, loft-style condos and stone walk-ups. Sidewalks and treed lawns are well maintained and most blocks have a great deal of curb appeal. In contrast to much of Chicago, North Center has easy street parking, as well as many properties with private garages.
Single-family homes typically fall between $700,000 and $1.5 Million, with a few fixer-uppers to be had in the $400,00 to $600,000 range. Homes in the area have broken the $3 Million mark on occasion. The condo market offers a much broader range of options. A one-bedroom vintage can run as little as the mid $100,000s (most in low-mid $200s), while most two-bedrooms are in the low to mid $300,000s. Larger condos and townhomes are likely to fall between $400,000 to $500,000.
North Center is serviced by three Brown Line CTA train stops at Addison, Irving Park and Montrose Avenues. Commutes to the Loop typically run 25 minutes. CTA Bus transit can be had at any of the major east-west and north-south avenues. The Ravenswood Metra Line stop is a short trip east for express access to the Loop or north- bound to Ravinia Festival. Access to the Kennedy (I-90/94) is best had at Damen Ave. in Bucktown, which is typically, a 7-minute drive.
Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
Lincoln Avenue (between Montrose and Roscoe) is home to one of Chicago’s most diverse antique districts. Shops lining the avenue run from flea market-style vendors to art-deco specialists. Smythson Yeats and European cottage-style purveyors, Praha, offer a seamless mix of old and new. For the serious vintage couture seeker, Lulu’s at the Belle Kay is a must-see. As is expected in a corridor of mostly boutique shopping, North Center has many chic restaurants, including Sola and one of Chicago’s more refined Irish establishments, Mrs. Murphy & Sons’ Irish Bistro. Entertainment options include American Theater Company (ATC), for traditional theater and Martyrs’, for live music (with actual professional sound quality). Roscoe Village offers fun both day and night on Roscoe Avenue (between Damen and Western). Grab brunch and relive your 70s childhood at Kitsch’N and stick around for happy hour at Mulligan’s or the Riverview Tavern. Roscoe Village is also home to a decent variety of ethnic restaurants and the Retro On Roscoe festival.
Public and private schools (Pre-K – High School) abound in North Center and the caliber of the schools help to maintain stable property values. Bell Elementary (K-8) boasts one of CPS’ s most notable Gifted Programs. The massive, Lane Tech College Prep High School can’t be missed on Western Avenue. St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, for which the sub-neighborhood of St. Ben’s is named, has both a K-8 and High School. Independent private options include the elite, Francis Parker School and Catherine Cook School (Pre-School -8).