Jackson Park Highlands

Jackson Park Highlands

Jackson Park Highlands is a small, yet notable Chicago neighborhood on the South Side of the city. It was established in the early 20th Century, just south of Jackson Park where the 1893 Columbian World Expedition had been held less than a decade before. The 4-block-square community was a model home development built on the coattails of Chicago’s debut as a world-class city. Following in the footsteps of such an innovative period, the original houses in Jackson Park Highlands featured progressive ideas that were revolutionary for the times. In addition to underground plumbing and gas lines, the properties enjoyed big front yards, 50 ft. wide lots and a distinct lack of alleyways—snubbing Chicago’s hallmark grid street layout.

Today’s residences include the beautiful mansions of yesteryear plus modern mid-century split-levels and a few clusters of courtyard condos. Extra space allotted for individual properties when the neighborhood was first planned left plenty of room for the growth of trees, bushes, gardens and green grass lawns. The lush landscape looks more suburban than urban, especially because the homes have front-entrance driveways due to the fact that there are no alleys.

Part of Jackson Park Highlands’ desirability is its proximity to one of Chicago’s largest parks. The 600-acre expanse of Jackson Park borders the neighborhood to the north, providing a nearby recreation spot with a full range of sporting facilities, outdoor activities, exercise options and leisure time pursuits. In order to get your bearings, Jackson Park abuts the grounds of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and runs all the way to 67th Street where Jackson Park Highlands begins. It features several lagoons, as well as a harbor, beach and miles of frontage along Lake Michigan. In addition to a sprawling golf course, there are baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, nature paths, a gym and state-of-the-art fitness center and a playground for the kiddies. Despite its claim to fame as the site of Chicago’s World Fair, only two structures remain from the expedition—the Fine Arts Palace (which is now the Museum of Science and Industry) and the “Golden Lady” statue.

While Jackson Park Highlands is a very residential neighborhood, it does have a commercial strip along its southern edge on 71st Street. There are several restaurants, shops and businesses near the intersection of 71st and Jeffery Boulevard. The Metra train also has a station there, which serves as a convenient public transportation option for locals who need to get downtown or to other parts of the city. For motorists, Lake Shore Drive is right next door, winding through the park and up along the shoreline.

The existence of Jackson Park Highlands is obviously tied to its great history. It was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1989 and is now a thriving upscale community with a number of famous residents hailing from the area, such as Jesse Jackson, Bo Diddley, Enrico Fermi and the Whitehall family. Over the years, this distinctive Chicago neighborhood has managed to maintain the abundance of green, mature vegetation, attractive housing stock and unique history that make it an exceptional place to live.