A patchwork of smaller enclaves, Irving Park is a neighborhood on Chicago's Northwest Side. The Chicago River sets the most recognized east border with the Milwaukee Ave railroad tracks marking the west. Addison and Montrose Avenues set the south/north borders. West of Pulaski Road and sliced by I-90/94, Irving Park encompasses the region between Belmont Avenue on the south and Leland Avenue on the north.
Some of the sub “neighborhoods” within the spread are less recognized (or perceptible) than others. For their significant and historical architecture two enclaves stand out, The Villa, situated along Pulaski, the Metra Union Pacific/Northwest rail line, Hamlin and Addison; and Old Irving Park, bounded by Montrose, Pulaski, Addison and Kostner Avenue. Other areas include Independence Park set by Irving Park Road, I-90/94, Elston Avenue and Addison. West Walker is within Montrose, Irving Park Road, Pulaski and Central Park Avenue. The east region of Irving Park is also known as California Park, broken by Montrose, Addison, Kedzie Avenue and the river.
As a whole Irving Park is dedicated to preserving its significant history. The Irving Park Historical Society was founded in 1984 with this goal in mind. A Society survey documented hundreds of buildings in use which predate 1894, many dating as far back as the 1870s. Some remain intact while many have been modified or remodeled.
A number of structures have been cited as landmarks, including Carl Schurz High School and the Steven Race House. In the 1980s the Chicago Landmark Commission named 43 other buildings as potential landmarks.
Public amenities, services, civic organizations
Independence Park is the centerpiece of neighborhood recreation. The Irving Park YMCA is further west in Irving Park Road. To the east, the McFetridge Sports Center provides an indoor ice rink and tennis facilities.
Several sub-neighborhoods support their own community associations including West Walker, Independence Park and Old Irving Park.
The age and make-up of the historic homes means large, classic and high-priced single family housing with Queen Anne, Victorian and Italianate homes. A few farmhouses and numerous bungalows are available. There is variety in style and price. Prices range from the high $300s to near a million. There is significant affordable rental housing in Irving Park. Well-kept and very reasonable, particularly in the form of low-rises, 2-10 unit apartment and condo units are plentiful.
Recent new low-rise condo construction has dotted the Irving Park Road corridor. New single family home developments in Irving Park have been completed on the west border within the last 3 years.
The CTA Blue Line runs through Irving Park, with stops at Addison, Irving Park/Pulaski, and Montrose. For frequent travelers this means a short 20 minute train ride to O”Hare Airport. Chicago Metra stops at Irving Park Road. I-90/94 crosses the neighborhood with numerous exits.
Shopping, dining and nightlife
For shoppers, Irving Park is not even the Marginal Mile. Auto repair, light industrial shops, and service businesses make up most of the commercial strips. Irving Park is well served by grocery and convenience stores.
Irving Park’s great advantage is its quick routes into the city’s action. But, pleasant corner bars and taverns, like McNamara’s, can be found. The Abbey Pub remains a popular live music venue. Hidden gem dining spots range from higher-line fare at Sabatinos(my all time favorite) or five-star barbeque at Smoque. Some newer bar/restaurants on the east end, like Pitchfork & Leader Bar, have opened since 2009.
Carl Schurz High School and Irving Park Middle School public schools serve the neighborhood. St Viator Elementary and Park View Lutheran are private schools serving the neighborhood.