The South Side Chicago neighborhood of Chatham is bisected by the I-94 Dan Ryan Expressway and the Red Line L train tracks. Both transportation arteries run north/south through the community, sandwiched by S. State Street and S. Lafayette Avenue on either side. This tightly-packed transit corridor serves as the divider line between Chatham and West Chatham, a smaller, triangle-shaped borough that houses a large Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) facility where many of the city’s buses are kept.
The main boundaries of Chatham and West Chatham are 75th Street to the north, Cottage Grove Avenue to the east, 87th Street to the south, and the train tracks and Vincennes Avenue to the west. A sizeable portion of West Chatham’s north side is occupied by CTA grounds. The southern section of the neighborhood has a lot of commercial and industrial development, as well as plots of undeveloped land. The middle of West Chatham is mostly residential housing, plus a spacious public park that was originally established in the 1940s. In addition to baseball diamonds, softball fields, landscaped walkways, tennis courts, a soft surface playground and open green space, this park offers a wide variety of recreational programs throughout the year for participants of all ages. There are day camps and sports teams for children to join while adults can use the on-site clubroom for meetings and community gatherings.
Chatham proper has a few public parks as well, which include Cole Park and Brown Memorial Park on the southern end. Both are outfitted with baseball/softball fields and play areas for the kids. Brown also has a nice set of tennis courts and paved paths for jogging, walking, biking or strolling.
Most of Chatham’s dining options are located on either 79th Street or 87th Street. Here you’ll find a tasty lineup of southern-style cuisine, fast food joints, pancake houses, Chinese take-outs, Cajun eateries and chain sandwich shops. There are some retail stores along these main thoroughfares, too, although the scope of merchandise is limited. Residences in Chatham are mostly single-family homes. There is a good showing of classic Chicago bungalows and modest single- and two-story houses. Many of the homes have their own yards (albeit small) and detached garages. Like most Chicago neighborhoods, Chatham has a system of alleyways that run behind residential lots and businesses, providing a less visible route for garbage trucks to collect trash and people to access their garages.
Traveling to the city center from Chatham is quite straightforward as both the highway and the L cut right through the community. The Red Line L has two stops in the neighborhood—one at 79th Street and one at 87th Street. There’s also the Metra commuter train just a few blocks east of Chatham with stations at 87th Street, 83rd Street, 79th Street and 75th Street. Motorists can jump on the Dan Ryan Expressway at 86th Street or 77th Street and head up into town or go the other direction toward the Illinois/Indiana border.