Lawndale has an interesting past of booms and busts, ups and downs, good times and bad. Developed along the former Southwest Plank Road (now Ogden Avenue) which was a busy transportation route for early farmers, Lawndale became a bustling community after an influx of displaced city dwellers arrived following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. In the early 20th century the neighborhood was home to a sizable Jewish population and in the 1950s large numbers of African-American families started moving to the area. An interesting bit of local Lawndale history is the neighborhood's designation as Martin Luther King Jr.'s northern base of operations during the fight for civil rights in the 1960s. Lawndale was the source of great racial tension during these times as employment and other economic opportunities for the community's African-American population were almost non-existent. The resulting riots in Lawndale following King's assassination did little to remedy the situation as many businesses were either destroyed by the actual rioting or the owners pulled up stakes and left the area in the fear of further reprisals.

After all its hardships, Lawndale has persevered and today the neighborhood enjoys stability and an increase in affordable real estate for new homebuyers. Lawndale features the largest percentage of greystones in the city and the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative offers assistance to property owners who want to restore these architectural treasures. Lawndale has also seen a steady rise in the number of condominium conversions, bringing a fresh, new face to this established community's housing market. For outdoor activities, residents on Lawndale's northeast side flock to Altgeld Park for softball, baseball and soccer matches. Altgeld Park also has basketball courts for shooting hoops as well as an outdoor pool to cool down in the hot summer months. Franklin Park, located in the center of the neighborhood, features nicely landscaped grounds and a baseball field, as well as a gymnasium and fieldhouse for year-round athletics and events. Franklin Park is also where Lawndale families come for free, open-air movie viewing because the Chicago Park District shows feature films on the big screen from June to August.

Is the thought of all that extracurricular activity making you hungry? Perhaps it's time to check out Lawndale's roster of restaurants ... who wants pizza?! Lou Malnati's Pizza is a Chicago favorite and some might argue that it serves the best pizza in the city. Not a fan of the 'za? Lou Malnati's also has plenty of other options, from pastas to salads. Neighborhood vegetarians and vegans gather to gorge on organic juices and an array of healthy meat substitutes at I.C.Y. Vegetarian Restaurant and Juice Bar. But for meat entrées with specialized regional Mexican taste, head to La Quebradita, which serves dishes unique to the Mexican State of Guerrero. The Lawndale community is also home to several great barbecue places, including Miller's Barbecue and AA Barbecue that both offer mouthwatering orders of traditional BBQ ribs (although we hear the pulled-pork sandwich is worth a try, too!).

Lots of Lawndale foodies like to hang out and relax (and possibly even learn a trade) while munching on delectable homemade treats at The Academy Bakery. This isn't your run-of-the-mill corner bakery, budding dessert designers and bread makers come here for training to become certified bakers. On the other hand, patrons come here to lounge around on the bakery's comfy chairs and couch while snacking on a variety of fresh-baked cookies, cakes, pies and other just-out-of-the-oven goodies. For a quick, on-the-fly meal, there is no shortage of fast food joints in Lawndale. Subway and Super Sub can set you up with a hoagie or a hero, while John's Hot Dogs, Trailer Court Snack Shop and Hook Fish & Chicken have a more expanded menu of tasty fried cooking that is not necessarily for the health conscious but certainly satisfies the appetite!

Music lovers know where to go in Lawndale to mine for musical gold ... Specializing in R&B, hip hop, blues and gospel, George's Music Room has a wide variety of CDs, records and tapes as well as a few music-related books and memorabilia. The bins are a great place for DJs looking for that "new sound" to spin at their next show. The nearby Lawndale Plaza shopping center has many convenient services and amenities for Lawndale residents, including a Dominick's supermarket and a movie theatre.

Lawndale is easily accessible via the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) which forms part of the neighborhood's northern border. There are exits for I-290 at Cicero Avenue as well as Independence Boulevard and Western Avenue. For anyone without a car, the CTA has several bus lines serving Lawndale. Residents can take the east/west running 16th Street bus line, which goes through the center of the neighborhood. The Pulaski and Kedzie Avenue bus routes run north and south as does the Kimball/Homan. The CTA Pink Line "L" train runs along Lawndale's southern border and has stops in the neighborhood at Pulaski Road and Kedzie Avenue, and three more stations (Central Park, Kostner Avenue and California Avenue) also let you off just blocks from Lawndale.

Chicago neighborhood and real estate information