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Living in Ravenswood, Chicago: A Family Neighborhood with Old World Charm

Ravenswood is located on Chicago’s North Side, mostly in the Lincoln Square community. An old German neighborhood, today it has become popular particularly with young couples who are looking for the urban experience to raise their families as well as the singles set who are attracted by the Lincoln Avenue entertainment strip. Despite recent rises in Ravenswood property values, homes and apartments can be found at more affordable rates here than in trendier Chicago neighborhoods like Lakeview or Lincoln Park.

At its eastern-most boundary, in the Uptown community, lies Ravenswood’s Historic District. Here one can find a plethora of 100-year old houses and Victorian mansions for the pricier set, including the home of the Mayor of Chicago’s family, Rahm Emanuel.

East Ravenswood Historic District


The neighborhood of Ravenswood forms the eastern-most boundary of the Lincoln Square community, and is a rather compact area defined by Clark Street to its east, Montrose Avenue to the south, Foster Avenue to its north, and the Chicago River to its west. In addition, the Metra line runs right through the middle of the neighborhood with a stop at Lawrence Avenue, giving residents easy access to Downtown Chicago.

Map of Ravenswood, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Avenue is considered the main artery, but there are pockets of retail and entertainment venues along some of the arterial streets on Wilson Avenue, Lawrence Avenue, and to some extent along Montrose Avenue. This gives residents numerous places to shop, dine, and be entertained – including at the city’s famous Old Town School of Folk Music – all a relatively short walk from wherever one resides.


Ravenswood had its inauspicious beginnings as a “planned community”, designed by a group of real estate speculators – The Ravenswood Land Company – to be Chicago’s first commuter suburb back in 1868. At the time the nascent Chicago and Northwestern Railroad ran through the area so the speculators cut a deal with the railroad to guarantee a certain number of passengers if they would build a station there. So to this day there is a major stop on the Metra line at Lawrence Avenue. Annexed to the city in 1889, the neighborhood really began to flourish when electric streetcar lines began to service the area in the 1890s, and later an extension of the ‘L’ was built here. Until recently it was known as the Ravenswood Line, but now it’s the Brown Line. The addition of transit services at the turn of the 20th century fueled the population growth and made the area more accessible to less affluent residents. Today, much of the history of the German immigrants – the primary settlers in Ravenswood and its neighbor to the south, Lakeview – has been erased. However, remnants are still visible in some of the shops and restaurants as well as an original section of the Berlin Wall which can be seen in the Brown Line station at Western Avenue.


With only about 10 miles to Downtown, the commute to Chicago’s CBD is relatively quick and with numerous options. Public transportation is extensive, with easy access to both a number of bus lines (49 Western, 11 Lincoln, 22 Clark Street, and 81 Lawrence – which connects to the CTA Red Line – to name a few) and the Metra stop at Lawrence and Ravenswood. The CTA Brown Line stops at Western and at Montrose, connecting you to downtown. For those opting to cycle, there are numerous bike lanes along the major streets as well as many DIVVY bike rental stations.

Ashland & Wilson in Ravenswood. Image courtesy of Flickr user jbjas42


A healthy mix of public, selective enrollment, and charter schools provide numerous options to families with kids. Active participants in the local school councils have been successfully improving public schools, and there are charter schools that provide an alternative to district-run schools. Finally, a handful of private schools in the area give parents yet another option; these include parochial schools St. Matthias and Queen of Angels, and the highly noted Lycée Français de Chicago (an International Baccalaureate school offering bi-lingual education).

Public Safety

Luckily, Ravenswood is dull for crime, though isolated incidents may happen as in any other urban neighborhood. If you’re moving in from another city, you should definitely check in at a CAP’s (Chicago Alternative Policing) beat meeting. Civic engagement counts a lot when it comes to public safety and Ravenswoood is a neighborhood where residents really care about keeping their streets safe.

Shopping and Dining

When it comes to dining and shopping, there’s no shortage of options in Ravenswood. Gene’s Sausage Shop (the former Meyer’s German Delicatessen) is not to be missed. Mexican food to your taste? Well, then Garcia’s is the place you want to be. Exquisite American fare? Then you’ll want to make a reservation at Gather on Lincoln Avenue, where among other delights you’ll find one of the best burgers in the city. If instead you want to curl up and cook at home, then you needn’t go any farther than Mariano’s, where you’ll find every food imaginable and even be entertained by an in-house piano player!

Gather Chicago in Ravenswood

Housing Stock

Except for the East Ravenswood Historical District, Ravenswood is one of the city’s more affordable neighborhoods to live in, even while offering so much in terms of shopping and entertainment. Courtyard-style buildings are prevalent across the Ravenswood landscape, but there’s no shortage of stately single-family homes to be found along the tree-lined streets here as well.

What You Can Rent in Ravenswood

You have a wide choice of both affordable and high-end apartments in Ravenswood, especially if you appreciate vintage architecture. There’s no shortage of apartments, so you’ll have no problem finding one that suits your taste and budget. The average rent in Ravenswood today is $1,156 – far below the Chicago average ($1,943).

4601 N. Ravenswood Ave.

Located in the heart of Ravenswood, just steps from the Metra stop, close to the Brown Line stop and a few blocks from everything that Lincoln Avenue has to offer, this brand new complex offers 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom floor plans. Apartments come with hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, spa finishes featuring porcelain and stone bathrooms, and in-unit washer/dryers. Amenities at this pet-friendly community include a sun deck rooftop patio, private decks in most units, a fully equipped workout/fitness room, and a heated garage and indoor bike storage. What’s not to like?

4601 N. Ravenswood Ave. Apartments in Chicago

4535-45 N. Hamilton Ave

Located only steps from the bustling Lincoln Avenue corridor, this historic mid-twentieth century courtyard building offers 1-bedroom apartments featuring beautiful hardwood floors and modern kitchens, central heat and A/C, and patio/balconies. Bright and airy, this is one of the best locations in Ravenswood!

Apartments at 4535-45 N. Hamilton Ave. in Ravenswood. Image via Google Maps.

Make Ravenswood Your New Home

Great dining, entertainment, and classic architecture await you. Come find your home here by browsing great rentals on and you too can enjoy all that Ravenswood has to offer!

Amalia Otet
Amalia Otet
Amalia Otet is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves all things real estate and strives to live beautifully, one green step at a time.

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