What began as a tough Irish neighborhood in the township of Lake has evolved into a modern scene of urban renewal, where residents are banding together to preserve historic buildings, expand the neighborhood park and redevelop vacant lots. Fuller Park’s boundaries include Pershing Road to the north, the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east, Garfield Boulevard to the south and the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad lines to the west.
Throughout most of the 1800s, Fuller Park, and the township in which it began, was a small and simply developed area — home chiefly to railroad and stockyard laborers. But following the Chicago Fire of 1871, as Chicago proper enforced increasingly strict building and fire codes, this narrow, 15-block neighborhood became host to hordes of entrepreneurs seeking inexpensive places to build that were still relatively close to the city. It was still almost twenty years before the area was annexed by Chicago.
Around the turn of the century, Fuller Park became an important launch community for immigrants and general newcomers and, over the course of several generations, witnessed a handful of population shifts. A prominent German/Austrian population gave way to a largely African American population in the early 1900s and then to a wave of Hispanics and Eastern Europeans in the 1920s. Today, it’s a mixed-income neighborhood and home to a growing African American population.
Architecture in Fuller Park is rich with history, as it boasts several pre-Chicago fire buildings. Newcomers will find several existing frame houses and a handful of romantic Queen Anne-style homes. Real estate in the area includes everything from small, single-family homes to new condominiums and attached townhomes. Those interested in building new can find vacant properties for as little as $50,000. Otherwise, expect three-bedroom single-family homes to start in the mid $100,000s while condos and half-duplexes usually range from the mid-$200,000s to the mid-$300,000s.
While there isn’t a great deal of shopping to do within Fuller Park’s boundaries, its proximity to the Dan Ryan Expressway makes it easy to commute, whether to the Loop or the outlying neighborhoods. The area’s namesake Park, located in the southwest corner, provides tennis courts, baseball fields, an indoor gymnasium, a playground with spray pool, as well as an assembly hall that hosts several seasonal activities.
Fuller Park offers two small elementary schools — Hendricks Elementary and Parkman Elementary — and is also serviced by the nearby DuSable High school and Saint Gabriel Catholic School. Also, not quite two miles north is the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is a Ph.D.-granting research university.