Many Chicago neighborhoods were named after individuals who “discovered” the area, built the first homestead there, or donated land to the city for expansion, etc… But this north side Chicago neighborhood was a little different. You see, a band of real estate investors bought the land and proudly named it after themselves. The Ravenswood Land Company hoped to attract Chicago’s well-to-do gentry to Ravenswood because they wanted to get the most money for their property. The company’s wheelings and dealings included the sale of larger lots to wealthy landowners and adding a railroad stop to entice other well-off families to relocate to the neighborhood. From farmland and forests to contemporary shops and modern conveniences, this area (bound by Foster Avenue, the Chicago River, Clark Street and Montrose Avenue) grew to be a thriving, self-sufficient Chicago community.

A number of the grand homes from Ravenwood’s earlier era are still around today and look like they could be on the cover of Architectural Digest. These gorgeous neighborhood mansions stand on wide tree-lined streets side-by-side with rehabbed single-family homes and new construction condominiums.  Unlike congested parts of the city, there is sufficient street parking in Ravenswood (a big plus for people looking to buy property) and more green grass than we’re used to seeing Chicago. Real estate prices in Ravenswood are moderate, but those elegant vintage houses up the value quite a bit. While a condo ranges between $150,000 and $300,000, single-family residences in this neighborhood are likely to cost in the $400,000s and a stately manor house easily goes for $1 million+. 

Another perk of living in Ravenswood is the vast Sulzer Regional Library, one of two regional libraries in Chicago. Students of all grade levels and disciplines have clocked in hour upon hour at the study tables, which rest up against the building’s big glass windows, reading textbooks, researching projects and writing papers from their laptop computers. Just up the street on Lincoln Avenue, at the Old Town School of Folk Music, students of the arts learn how to strum, drum and jam on every conceivable instrument. This legendary institution offers classes for every generation of musician and also hosts performances in its 400-seat auditorium.

Across from the Sulzer Regional Library is Welles Park, where you’ll find tennis courts, a playground and baseball fields. The site was established in 1910 and it was the starting-off point for one community league basketball coach in particular (Abe Saperstein) who later became the founder of a group of twirling basketball players called the Harlem Globetrotters. Summer is an especially busy time at Welles Park and it is often packed with families, athletes and musicians – whose concerts draw people from all over the city. Another well-used park in the Ravenswood neighborhood is Winnemac Park, along North Leavitt.  This forty-acre space has soccer and softball fields as well as a prairie garden and nature trails.

Ravenswood’s dining scene is also quite active with an international array of restaurant choices. If you have an appetite for Japanese and have mastered the art of eating with chopsticks, Tank Sushi is a delightful spot to grab a bite. Celebrate a special occasion at Bistro Campagne, an intimate French café with an excellent wine selection, and eat outside if the weather permits. There is always the Daily Bar & Grill, a local favorite, if a burger and large salad is what you’re hungry for.

Many Chicago neighborhoods consider themselves to be “the best kept secret in town.” With an ever-growing commercial district, fabulous residential areas, and all sorts of opportunities to enjoy the good life, Ravenswood is having a tough time keeping its reputation as a top Chicago destination under wraps!

Chicago neighborhood and real estate information