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Living in West Lakeview, a Lively Chicago Neighborhood Chock-Full of Old World Charm

Lakeview Chicago

The West Lakeview neighborhood is located on the western border of Chicago’s Lakeview community. Its east border traditionally begins at Halsted, in the area known as “Boystown”, and continues to Ravenswood Avenue on the west where it borders the North Town community and the Roscoe Village neighborhood. West Lakeview is less dense overall than its Lakeview East neighbor as is evidenced by the plethora of single-family and low-rise apartment buildings mixed in with classic Greystones from the mid-twentieth century – giving West Lakeview a profile distinctive from the lakefront neighborhoods that border it.

West Lakeview Greystones
West Lakeview Greystones courtesy of Gerald Farinas via Wikimedia Commons

Location

West Lakeview sits between the Lakeview East neighborhood to its east and the Roscoe Village neighborhood to its west, approximately 8 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. Ashland Avenue, Belmont Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Clark Street serve as the neighborhood’s main commercial arteries, along with the trendy Southport Avenue corridor, all offering a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment from its northern-most boundary at Irving Park Road to its southern edge at Diversey Parkway.

West Lakeview Chicago IL
Map of West Lakeview

Add to this the fact that the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Lakeview, home to the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the iconic ballpark in which they play (Wrigley Field), sits inside of the West Lakeview neighborhood, thus insuring even more heightened activity during the 6-month baseball season! Yet, for all of its hustle and bustle, West Lakeview offers a bucolic charm along many of its quiet residential streets, which makes this neighborhood attractive to both families and those looking for nightlife!

History

The community of Lakeview at one time was a separate Illinois township and considered the “country” for Chicago residents in the mid-nineteenth century. It was originally settled by farmers from Germany, Sweden, and Luxembourg who made celery Lake View’s most important local crop. This country town would soon find itself the recipient of an influx of city residents who fled there during a cholera epidemic in the 1850s and decided to put down roots and stay. Due to its rapid growth and a real estate boom in the late 19th century, the township would be incorporated into the city in 1887. A few decades later, the then popular Wieboldt’s Department Store anchored a new business district in 1917 at the intersection of Lincoln, Belmont, and Ashland Avenues, which serves West Lakeview even to today as its primary shopping area – though Wieboldt’s, long gone, has been replaced by numerous chains and independent stores. West Lakeview’s working-class residential character was a result of all the factory workers who sought homes near their jobs and along with a more recent real estate boom, spurred the growth such that the community of Lakeview is now home to over 94,000 people (2010 census). However given the large number of single-family homes, 2-flats, and 3-flats, it’s no surprise that much of West Lakeview maintains a more open and serene profile than its neighboring Lakeview East.

Transportation

Since West Lakeview is at most 8-9 miles from downtown, the commute to Chicago’s central business district is very convenient. Public transportation is extensive, given easy access to both a number of bus lines (22 Clark Street, 11 Lincoln Avenue, and 9 Ashland Avenue are just a few) and rail lines (Red Line, Brown Line and Purple Line all stop at the Belmont Station), all of which connect to downtown. In addition, there are a number of Brown Line stops at Irving Park Road, Addison Street, Paulina Avenue, as well as Southport Avenue.

Belmont L Station in Chicago's Lakeview Neighborhood
Belmont L Station in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Image courtesy of JohnPickenPhoto via Flickr.

Lake Shore Drive is only a few minutes to the east and the Kennedy Expressway only a few miles to the west for those opting for travel by car; and of course there are plenty of bike lanes on many of the West Lakeview streets if you’re an avid cyclist. The many CTA options and numerous DIVVY bike rental stations make this a neighborhood where owning a car is unnecessary.

Schools

West Lakeview is served by a healthy mix of schools (public, selective enrollment, charter and private schools), all of which provide an extensive choice of options to families with children. Charter schools provide a good alternative to district-run schools; however, the local school councils have been successfully improving the public schools across the city as well as in West Lakeview. In addition, some of the city’s best Catholic elementary schools, such as St. Andrews – a Department of Education Blue Ribbon School – and Alphonsus Academy & Center For The Arts are located in West Lakeview.

Public Safety

The West Lakeview area is generally safe, though affected by crime as any densely-populated neighborhood in any major city would be. Most crimes are non-violent, mostly property crimes and robberies. Taking common sense precautions such as being aware of your surroundings and locking the door at night should be enough to keep you out of harm’s way. Also, make sure you check in at one of CAP’s (Chicago Alternative Policing) beat meetings to have even more information and control over what’s happening in your neighborhood.

Shopping and Dining

If you’re a food lover, West Lakeview will surely provide plenty of room for culinary adventures. Looking for a European-inspired bistro? Look no further than the newly opened Mirador, owned by classically French trained chef Matthew Mockler and located in the popular Southport Avenue corridor. Like your fish in a New Orleans po’ boy house? Well then, the Fish Bar on Sheffield is the place to make a reservation. If it’s fine dining, Italian style, then Francesca’s is the place to eat, serving great Italian food for over 20 years in the same location. Want some home cooking instead? There are plenty of options, including not one but two Whole Foods and two Trader Joe’s as well as a few Jewel Osco grocery stores. However, when it comes to meat, one of the best butcher shops in the city is Paulina Market in the Belmont-Ashland-Lincoln district. Keep it in mind for when you host your housewarming party!

Whole Foods in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood
Whole Foods at 3300 North Ashland Avenue in Lakeview. Image via 1617-1633 West Belmont Apartments.

Housing Stock

West Lakeview offers a wide variety of affordable apartments interspersed with many upscale condos and single-family homes. So one can still live frugally in this exciting neighborhood and yet still be conveniently close to the city’s central business district.

What You Can Rent in West Lakeview

There are many apartment buildings in West Lakeview, a number of which are distinctively characteristic of the early-to mid-20th century period when they were built. In addition, there are also more contemporary mid-rise buildings built in the late 20th century and into the 21st century, so you’ll find that there’s no shortage of apartments to suit your taste and budget. The average rent is $1,473 in West Lakeview, a bit lower than the overall city average of $1,647.

1617-1633 West Belmont

This courtyard building is located just west of the Ashland/Lincoln/Belmont intersections and all of the shopping and entertainment found in that area. It’s also only steps from Whole Foods, X-Sport Fitness, Jewel Food Stores, and a Walgreens drug store. These units are vintage style with remodeled kitchens and bathrooms as well as not one but two laundry facilities located on the premises. Heat is included in the rent. The CTA Brown Line stop at Paulina is only a few blocks away and various bus lines are nearby as well.

1617 1633 West Belmont Apartments in Lakeview
1617-1633 West Belmont Apartments

3540 N. Janssen Ave.

From 2-bedroom/2 bath to 4-bedroom/4 bath units, this upscale building has it all. Just around the corner from the popular Southport Avenue entertainment district and only blocks from Wrigley Field, these units come with outdoor recreational space, an in-unit washer and dryer, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite or quarts countertops, and a fireplace! There’s also tandem parking for more than one car. Pretty much everything to meet your everyday living needs, wouldn’t you say?

3540 N. Janssen Ave. Apartments in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood
3540 N. Janssen Ave. Apartments

Reside On Irving Park

For a taste of fine urban living, check out Reside on Irving Park. Located just steps from Lake Michigan, this top-notch community offers a mix of renovated one-, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartment homes with stainless steel GE Energy Efficient appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, and contemporary lighting.

Reside on Irving Park Apartments in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood
Reside on Irving Park Apartments

What You Can Buy in West Lakeview

Many of West Lakeview’s buildings were constructed in the early and mid-twentieth century, but there are also many newer mid-rises and condos in West Lakeview. So whether your preference is classic architecture or you lean to the more modern, you’ll find your home here in West Lakeview.

3010 North Sheffield Avenue 4N – Condominium – $426,400

This building is at the eastern edge of West Lakeview, just off Belmont. It’s within walking from everything that makes West Lakeview a great place to live – including being just around the corner from the Belmont “L” stop. This is a penthouse unit in need of some TLC, but it has all the amenities one would expect from a contemporary building – natural gas heat, central A/C, hardwood flooring, ceiling fans, and a fireplace as well as a deck. And if you drive, there’s a garage.

3762 North Wayne Avenue – Condominium – $240,000

Looking for something more affordable? Check out this great-value 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo in a 6-unit vintage building located in the heart of the Southport corridor. You’ll love the hardwood floors, the large master bedroom that offers plenty of storage space, as well as the tranquil back porch where you can relax after a hard day’s work.

Condo for sale at 3762 North Wayne Avenue in Lakeview
Condo for sale at 3762 North Wayne Avenue

Why Live Here

West Lakeview is a dynamic and exciting neighborhood with much to offer those seeking the urban lifestyle, yet wanting the ambiance of a community where one knows one’s neighbors. If you’re a film buff, then you’ll love the Music Box, whose history goes back to 1929! For culture enthusiasts, there are numerous theater groups in and around the neighborhood so you’ll never run out of plays to see, but one of the premier theater groups is at the Athenaeum Theater, a staple of West Lakeview for over 100 years.

And speaking of live entertainment, hosting an eclectic mix of music there’s The Vic which opened in 1912 as the Victoria Theater. Neighborhood festivals your style? Well there’s no shortage of those either, with at least one going on every month from May through September. The big one, however, is Pride Fest, the largest gay parade and celebration in the nation, held on the last weekend of June along Halsted Street. There’s Taste of Lakeview every year in July, which is one of the oldest street festivals in the city. Then there’s the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival held every year in May and the list goes on! And oh, yes, for all you baseball fans, Wrigley Field – home of the Chicago Cubs – is walking distance from just about anywhere in West Lakeview. Why live here? There’s your answer. There’s everything for just about anyone here!

So What Are You Waiting For?

Street fests, live theater, shopping and entertainment, not to mention Cubs baseball 6 months out of the year, all at affordable housing prices. Why wouldn’t you live here? Come find your home at www.rentcafe.com and you too can enjoy all that West Lakeview has to offer!

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About the author

Ama Otet

Ama 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. You can connect with Ama on Twitter or via email.

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