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What do “da Bears”, deep-dish pizza, improv comedy, and Al Capone have in common? That’s right – they all hail from Chicago.
A cosmopolitan, eclectic city, Chicago has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals. World-class museums abound, along with the Chicago Zoo and Shedd Aquarium. Public art installations are found all around the city, from the world-famous Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park to the Cloud Gate sculpture — nicknamed “The Bean” — in Millennium Park. If professional sports are your preference, you can catch a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field, watch the Bears play at Soldier Field, or cheer on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. No visit to Chicago would be complete without a trip to the Sky Deck at the top of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) for breathtaking views of the city and Lake Michigan. There are tons of arts and entertainment options, from the Chicago Symphony to downtown jazz clubs to the Second City Theater for some improv comedy. And of course there are tours galore – walking tours, architecture tours, food tours, gangster tours, ghost tours – whatever your pleasure, there’s probably a tour!
Hugging the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, the Windy City is the largest city in the American Midwest. Established as a commercial and shipping hub in 1833, the town was sited near the Chicago Portage (water channels that connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River) in the northeastern part of Illinois. It soon became an important transportation hub between the eastern and western states, with major railroad lines competing to distribute cargo from the lakeside port.
Like many other large American cities, Chicago experienced the influx of immigrants from Europe, as well as migrants from the eastern and southern parts of the US. The demand for labor grew as factories and stockyards sprang up. German, Irish, Swedish, Polish, and Czech immigrants settled in the city, creating a rich number of ethnic neighborhoods. Between 1910 and 1930 the expansion of industry and the availability of jobs attracted African Americans from southern states, sparking The Great Migration and the beginning of the Chicago Black Renaissance.
The increase in population led to many innovative societal changes. In 1856, the city designed the first comprehensive sewage plan. Contained sewage flowed out of the city and into the Chicago River, which fed into Lake Michigan, the city’s predominant source of drinking water. City engineers succeeded in reversing the direction of the Chicago River, so that tainted water flowed away from Lake Michigan rather than into it.
In 1871, Chicago experienced the Great Chicago Fire, which razed a large portion of the city. Officials implemented new building codes in the aftermath, discouraging wood frame buildings in favor of steel and concrete constructions. The era of the skyscraper was ushered in and the city’s skyline was forever altered.
The Roaring Twenties was a prosperous time in the Windy City, but it also gave rise to the gangster era. Bootlegging was an enormous underground industry during Prohibition and rival gangs battled for control. As the Great Depression loomed, factories began shutting down and Chicago became a hotbed of labor activism. The start of World War II reversed the unemployment trend and a second wave of Black people from the South moved to Chicagoland to work in the steel mills, railroads, and shipping yards.
Prior to the development of the modern high-rise, single and dual-family homes filled Chicago’s neighborhoods. The most popular home style was the Bungalow, most of which were constructed between 1910 and 1940. In fact, Realm’s data analysis shows that most of Chicago’s homes were built in 1925. The Bungalow was built for working class families and featured one-and-a-half stories, brick construction, full basements, and a back porch. They often featured limestone accents and Arts and Crafts-style woodwork. For lower income families, it was a whole new standard of living.
The Worker Cottage was the original Chicago home. Its utilitarian style was well-suited to the grid-like subdivisions that proliferated as the city grew. These brick structures stood one-and-a-half stories high with gabled roofs that faced the street, and full basements and attics. As times and styles changed, the basic Worker Cottage design remained the same, while the outward finishes changed.
Realm’s data analysis demonstrates that the popular features of these home types remain constant today. Wood floors were the most popular feature in the Chicago housing market, mentioned in 6,255 recent real estate listings. Another 4,053 highlighted a finished basement, the third most popular feature.
Other popular Chicago home styles include the frame two-flat. In these homes, the owner traditionally occupied the first floor and a renter took the second floor. The Chicago Greystone was based on a New York brownstone and could be a single-family residence or a multi-family building. The Greystone features a distinctive limestone façade with a single street-facing entrance.
Realm’s data analysis of recent real estate listings reveals that Chicago homeowners have prioritized safety, comfort, and value. Roof work, mentioned in 4,001 listings, and HVAC work, mentioned in 4,105 listings, were both top features in the housing market. Exterior details are just as important. 3,427 home listings mentioned a deck and 2,845 featured fencing. Potential homeowners can also rest easy knowing that Realm’s data revealed that 100% of Chicago homes are outside of flood zones and do not sit within the designated perimeter for a wildfire that occurred in the past five years.
Is Chicago real estate falling?
Just the opposite — strong buyer demand is driving asking prices to an all-time high. In July 2021 the statewide median price was $263,000, while in the Chicago metro area the median home sale price was $300,000. Homes stay on the market for an average of 23 days. Looking forward to 2022, the market is predicted to cool slightly due to affordability constraints, but low mortgage rates will continue to encourage purchases.
Is it expensive to live in Chicago?
Yes. There is a high cost for goods and services in the Windy City, mostly due to its 10.25% combined state and local sales tax. However, there are abundant employment opportunities in a variety of industries, including finance, publishing, manufacturing, and food processing. The city scores high on the walkability index and public transportation is plentiful.
Where is it safe to live in Chicago?
Edison Park is considered the safest neighborhood in the city. It is located at the northern end of town and its crime rate is 77% lower than the city average.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes