[Photo by Zol87 via flickr creative commons]
A few miles west of the lake sits Albany Park, a cradle of new immigration and, over all, one of the most—maybe the most—diverse communities in Chicago. Like many neighborhoods, it was developed by the expansion of the streetcar network in the late 19th century. A building boom was furthered by the completion of the Ravenswood Elevated Line (Brown), and commercial uses clustered around the station at Lawrence and Kimball.
Becoming a large Jewish enclave in the 50s, successions of East Asian and Mexican immigrants have supplanted much of the Jewish population. To the north, there's a large Swedish population, extending west from Andersonville. Lawrence Avenue is where you go to enjoy the cultural mix and vibrant cuisine. Otherwise, Albany Park is resolutely residential, with a stock characterized by modest single family bungalows and smallish apartment buildings. Skirted by the North Branch bike trail to the east, the river is buffered by park and forest preserve extending north all the way to the Botanical Garden. The Brown and Blue lines serve the area, and the Kennedy and Edens are right there. Let's check out a few noteworthy homes currently on the market:
This is a 1917 bungalow in the North Mayfair Historic District. The recent gut renovation brought in new cherry and oak floors, a garage, kitchen, finished basement, and a second-floor master suite addition. Preserved features include stained glass and cove ceilings. Four beds/three baths and asking $399K.
·Listing: 4947 N Kostner Ave. [Coldwell Banker]
The main thing this fixer-upper has going for it is its setting on three separate city lots, each with its own PIN, adding up to 90 ft. total width. The 1895 Victorian house is one of the 'hood's oldest structures, but without landmarking you may do as you please. It could be worth a full rehab... not like it's condemned or anything. Or you can start over with one, two, or three houses. Asking $425K, the price has already come down $40K in three weeks on the market.
·Listing:5051 N Springfield Ave. [Keller Williams]
This 1917 red brick bungalow is perfect for a large family overrun by small children. Its six bedrooms are mostly kid-sized and its long and spacious common areas make for ample play space. Only, neither appears to have been used in such a way by the current owner. Decent outdoor space, and one block from Brown Line. On the market since June, the ask has reduced $50K to $399K.
·Listing: 4926 N Christiana Ave. [Baird & Warner]
Our comical pick, this English Tudor-style 1933 home has a bungalow facade plastered to its rear. It basically looks as if two distinct properties were sewn together. Not that it doesn't accomplish a certain warmth and functionality. After all, people with driveways use side and rear entrances more than the front. It's like a complete and honest abandonment of street life. Just off the back deck, a Koi pond gobbles up valuable yard. The listing tells us there's a "distinguished" living room, "classic" dining room, and a sunny kitchen, but there's no photos to back it up. New to market and asking $339K.
·Listing: 5041 N Kolmar Ave. [Century 21 McMullen]
·Albany Park Neighborhood Profile [City of Chicago]
·Community History [Albany Park Chamber of Commerce]