Even though thousands of Chicagoans commute by Union Ridge every day, most people wouldn’t know where the neighborhood is if asked to point it out on a map. That’s OK, inhabitants of this Northwest Side haven of single-family homes are just fine with the anonymity. Union Ridge’s “under the radar” location off the I-90 Kennedy Expressway and Blue Line L make it an easy-to-get-to place—as long as you know where to go.
So where is Union Ridge, you ask? As you’re heading outbound on I-90 going toward O’Hare, there’s a primarily residential community about 12 miles from the Loop that runs along the highway from Mulligan Avenue to Harlem. Probably the neighborhood’s most noticeable landmark is its namesake cemetery. The grounds flank the expressway for several blocks and give way to sidewalk-lined streets of modest abodes and green grass yards at Talcott Avenue, Gregory Street and Catalpa/Normandy avenues. The neighborhood stretches south to Foster Avenue and is bisected diagonally by Higgins Avenue, which runs from the southeast corner to the northwest corner and boasts some of the area’s most popular dining spots.
Much of Union Ridge’s commercial development and multi-unit housing is situated along Higgins Avenue. Parts of Harlem Avenue are also built up with restaurants and other businesses. The neighborhood’s only public school is located at 5225 N Oak Park Avenue. John W. Garvy Elementary has been around since the 1930s when it first opened as a four-classroom out-branch of neighboring Norwood Park School. Now it is its own educational facility and has been expanded to include several more classrooms, a library, gymnasium, auditorium, and specialty instruction rooms.
Union Ridge is a traditional Chicago neighborhood with a mix of one- and two-story single-family abodes. Its residential real estate is comprised mostly of brick ranch-style residences and frame houses with detached garages and small private backyards. Sparsely-planted trees add to the community’s greenscape however there aren’t any public parks within the neighborhood boundaries.
As noted before, the Kennedy Expressway provides a direct route to downtown Chicago from Union Ridge. Unfortunately traffic can make for long drive times at all hours of the day. If you’re not a fan of bumper-to-bumper travel by car, the Blue Line L offers a convenient transportation alternative that will save gasoline (and possibly your sanity). You can hop on the train at Harlem Avenue. It still takes a while to get to the Loop but at least the hour-long journey won’t involve gas-guzzling bottlenecks and horn honking.