East Chicago lies in the city’s far Southeast Side, right on the Illinois-Indiana state line. It’s actually close enough to the border that its name is shared by a nearby Indiana town. This average-sized Chicago neighborhood is bordered by the Calumet River to the north and west, State Line Road to the east and 126th street to the south. East Chicago is so-called because of its location on the Calumet River’s east bank, and for a considerable length of time, it was the river that sustained nearby residents. Today, the area has undergone rapid development to become a quiet but active hub of diverse residents, attractive parks, ample eateries and simple shopping.
Given its distance from the heart of downtown Chicago, this neighborhood has the appeal of an outlying suburb. Its residential streets feature a variety of housing styles, some of which have stood since the late 1800s. The architecture includes classic Chicago bungalows, the Cape Cod-style homes popularly built in the 1950s, and a good number of simpler, small-frame homes. In contrast, certain pockets of East Chicago also feature several new construction homes that have been built on a more grandiose scale. Most residents can take advantage of off-street or garage parking and, in many cases, have a sumptuously green backyard, thanks to Eggers Grove Forest Preserve.
Yes, East Chicago is home not only to Calumet Park on Lake Michigan – including a lakefront bicycle and running path – but also its own forest preserve, which most residents refer to as “Eggers Woods.” To increase the recreational potential of areas like this, proposed plans have been offered that will provide for an expansion of Calumet Park and the development of an additional 140 acres.
On the dining front, East Chicago provides its own smattering of pizzerias, whether you’re in the mood for thin crust or thick. However, residents are generally most drawn to the neighborhood’s large selection of quality Mexican food restaurants, including Chapala Restaurant and El Charro San Francisco. When in the mood to shop, there are several chain fashion stores, including Payless and AJ Wright, as well as an unusual mix of specialty and designer furniture stores. Other chains, including Aldi Grocery, have recently moved into the area, and redevelopment of the Lake Point Plaza was underway as of February 2012.
Getting around the city from East Chicago is pretty simple, even given its distance from downtown. The Chicago Skyway (I-90) runs right through the middle of the neighborhood and convenient CTA outlets provide even easier access to downtown. For final destinations in or near the Loop, area buses are usually the quickest and surest bet, with a host of stops picking up throughout East Chicago.