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Added Mar 19 2014

Hey Everyone,

I'm pretty new here on EveryBlock, but I've found it a great place to learn more about the neighborhoods in Chicago as I consider the area where I would like to live as I get ready to relocate.

I grew up in a small suburb outside of Cleveland Ohio, and ever since I can remember, I've always liked being in pretty diverse crowds. After I graduated from college, I moved to Washington DC, where I took a job teaching in inner-city schools in both the public and charter school systems there. It was here that I really developed a passion for working in Urban Education.

After 7 years, I was offered a position at a University on Long Island New York. It’s been a great job, but after 2 years here, I’ve found it to be incredibly isolating and devoid of diversity. I've also developed a real love for Chicago, because its closer to home, both geographically and in feel, the opportunity here for what I do, and the availability of rental housing.

After an aggressive campaign to find a new job, I was offered a position with CPS at a school in West Englewood, which I have accepted. There is also an opportunity getting ready to open up in the CPS central office that I'm also being courted for. As I've had a chance to do some searching around Chicago, while I like the vibrancy of places like Lincoln Park, and Lakeview, I've found myself drawn to Rogers Park because prices are better for the space.

City stats show Rogers Park as being a pretty safe place -- and from what I've seen a pretty diverse place as well. I can handle myself in large cities, but I do want to be somewhere that's relatively quiet and safe. Are the prices just a product of the area being on northern edge of the city? Are there areas that I should avoid?

Thanks for reading my post. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • Rogers Park is a nice neighborhood with a lot to offer, that is true. However, I agree with other posters on the commute. If you will be going to Englewood on a daily basis, that is not going to be a tenable long-term arrangement in my opinion. I used to do something similar, and after a while it was just too much. Especially if we have another winter like this one.

    So, depending on where you end up working, you may want to consider looking a bit closer at Bronzeville. Hyde Park is an under-rated option, too. I hear UIC area has some really good spots, too, and the commute would be a lot smoother.

    Best of luck to you in your move to Chicago!

  • As long as you're on the Drive by 7 your commute will be fine. Afternoons will be beautiful with the open water vista!

  • It might help to evaluate the costs of housing in terms of the costs of commuting. There's a CNT calculator that's useful for that:

    Given the amount of traffic congestion in Chicago, I think it'd be a good idea to look at a public transit or bike commute pretty closely. I really like Rogers Park but agree with Avital about UIC & Hyde Park areas, too—there is so much going on there all the time.

    One thing to consider in thinking about commuting in Chicago is that there are Metra stops within the city in addition to CTA and buses, so there are great public transit options—also for visiting other areas of the city on weekends. A lot of people don't realize how fast Metra is in to & out of the Loop, for ex.

    If you haven't already done it, it might be good to look at possible transit commute routes you are considering by address just to get a sense of what's possible. Google can be helpful but isn't so accurate sometimes, but there are local interactive maps too:


    Good luck with your move!

  • Wherever gay artists/ gay owned businesses, art galleries, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues are moving, that's the next hip/fun and up and coming neighborhood. I heard they are moving to Rogers Park.

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    nkot -- Those are some great resources. Thanks for sharing them! I will certainly take them into consideration.

  • Andrew Mann Hippie with a job

    Very long commute, Mike. Doesn't sound like a good idea.

  • Marc Uptown Sheridan Park

    I would look at it this way. If Mike (you) are renting, you ought to consider starting out in the area that you are very drawn to, be it Rogers Park or some other neighborhood. After your lease is up in a year, if you haven't had a good experience, you can always move. That also gives you time to explore more places in Chicago. If you were buying a home, then yes, I would give the commute a serious thought, but this is not the case for you. I love RP and I love it's future possibilities. I own my Condo, but I believed enough in RP to purchase it and as you have stated, the prices are good in RP. I love living close to the Red Line and I love living close to the Beaches. The walking scores are great and I walk a lot to shop for small items. Rogers Park is diverse and more and more small business and development is moving here. Yes, it could be better, but that can apply to almost any place that you're thinking of. I'd say, start with your heart and your gut feeling (especially if you are renting). Explore Chicago and make a more clear decision for yourself after the 1st year that you are here. The beauty of renting ! Good Luck. I've been to Cleveland many times, so I am absolutely sure that you will enjoy Chicago and I'm sure if you decide on RP that you will enjoy that too.

  • Jessi J NOH, my other car is a lotus blossom.

    Go for it. Like others said, if the commute is killer, you can move after your lease is up. My friends from out of state can't believe I live within two blocks of the shore, considering that living by the water in the Loop is very financially exclusive. Loyola Beach is the most peaceful and spacious beach you could imagine. I love Rogers Park because it still welcomes families, and to me families are the backbone of a community. All the cute kids in the summertime, the paletas carts, the diversity, feeling like you are in another land when visiting Devon Street... If you like worldly, diplomatic, and down to earth vibes, this is the place. Lincoln Park is "cool", but it's a pretty sad commentary on a neighborhood when I can't walk through there with my 4 year old without at least one group of people complaining about how "annoying" kids are. You won't get that here. I know this is slightly OT, but as a school teacher I think you may enjoy the youth and families of RP.

  • Welcome to Chicago!! Given the places you have lived and you are planning to work, your interpretation of "safe" may be a tad bit more lenient than some. Here is a link to look up various areas of the city and see how many/what types of crimes:

    Rogers Park should be fine's still the city, and still has it's issues, but the few times I've been back there, it has changed quite a bit since I lived there in the 90's-early 2000's. Lot's of cute shops and restaurants have moved in near the Jarvis L stop. The biggest thing I miss of the area is it's proximity to the lake. You also are very close to Evanston, Northwestern and all that they have to offer as well. Good luck w/ your choice!! I second what another poster stated....try it for a year and explore the city. I now live in the Avondale/Logan Square area and love it too -- but I still miss being so close to the lake :-(

  • Samantha Lady social justice defender

    Don't move here. Rogers Park is a crime infested Hell-Hole riddled with corrupt politics and streets that never get plowed of snow in the winter. But if you like great beaches in the summer, fantastic restaurants, great music, lots of fun street festivals, Sunday morning markets and an eclectic variety of wonderful residents then move here.

  • NewToRp Native New to RP.

    The first part of your post sound like you were describing Austin @Samantha ;-)

  • NewToRp Native New to RP.

    Just moved here from New York City. I love it for its diversity, proximity to the Lake and Chicago in general has the best food. Sketchy areas are located in a few areas but I wouldn't constitute Rogers Park as dangerous as I had to live in Austin (Chicago) for three months prior and it was truly HELL ON EARTH.

  • Nancy B. Co-Owner Gold'N Pear Catering

    My next door neighbor commutes down to Hyde Park every day and has grown to enjoy the commute, though he doesn't drive. I agree that if a place feels like home, the commute doesn't matter. I used to routinely commute to Des Plaines (which in my opinion is a hell hole--it's all in the eye of the beholder) and was so happy to come back every day to my neighborhood where everyone wasn't the same and I could easily walk to the beach. You sound like a Rogers Parker to me!! And by the way, the more you engage people in the community, the more it will feel like home.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    "New," methinks Samantha was just mimicking the Rogers Park naysayers in that first sentence.

  • Carl Good

    The thing about violent crime is that different ward sectors have very different crime rates, as can be seen from the site Shelley linked. So ward-wide stats don't mean much for the real experience of residents.

    Many areas of RP have similar crime rates to Edgewater, Lakeview, Lincoln Sq., etc. Parts of the latter wards have higher crime rates than parts of RP. Areas near the red line have higher crime rates all up and down the north side, and just a few blocks west of the El, crime rates fall significantly. Most neighborhoods south of RP have higher rates of break-ins and car theft (our theft rates are among the lowest in the entire city). You're more likely to be mugged in the Loop than you are on the far north side.

    Most important, the average person's chances of suffering crime do not reflect the crime rates of a given neighborhood. If your neighborhood has a high rate of domestic violence, you're not likely to be subjected to that crime just by living there. If there are gang shootings in your ward, you're not likely to be shot, because most victims of gang violence are gang members. Victims of violent crime are often related to or associated with their attackers--and if your family and acquaintances don't pose a threat, you're simply not subjected to the same risk level. So when you assess crime in your neighborhood, make sure you're guided by the real situation and not by some vague notion of threat that only comes from abstract statistics.

    Bottom line: you can walk all over RP and you'll be safer than you would be driving an automobile on a highway or shopping on the Mag Mile. If you are still fearful of violence, put that fear to good use by working to make this city safer for the real victims of crime: children forcibly conscripted into the culture of gang violence in schools; people suffering from abusive domestic situations; and folks who live in areas of the city, particularly on the south side, where crime does indeed pose a real public threat.

  • Carl Good: that was a good analysis of the safety situation overall.

    I would just take issue with two things you said: 1) "forcible conscription" into gangs is not what is driving this city's gang problem. Rather, it is an entitlement mentality, coupled with degradation of family structure and parental supervision, that is pushing certain segments of the city's teenage population into joining gangs. They are joining voluntarily for the most part. 2) folks who "live in areas" where "crime is a real threat" - that phrasing suggests crime is just a supernatural force happening to these hapless residents, rather than describe the reality, which is that it is the residents of these areas who are making those areas unsafe by committing those crimes. Crimes are committed by people - crimes do not commit themselves.

  • Carl Good

    Avital, you're voicing one of the assumptions most people have about gang culture in Chicago, but the story has changed. Many people believe, as you do, that youth join gangs out of their own free will. Many parents of gang members also believe that. The reality, however, is dramatically to the contrary. It might have been true several decades ago that gang membership was a "choice," as was the experience of many former gang members, but in the most gang-rife neighborhoods of Chicago, a child is assigned to gang fealty based on where he or she lives. That child has no choice. I'm not saying that every gang member is "forcibly conscripted," but that's a real problem, particularly on the south side. The "This American Life" program featured on WBEZ last year, a three-part series, will change all your perceptions about gang life in Chicago. I highly recommend it:

    This gang map from WBEZ can also tell you a lot about where and crimes occurr in relatively limited areas of the ward you live in. But also keep in mind that we had two major gang sweeps here in Rogers Park last year, and gang activity has fallen dramatically since then:

  • Terry Midnight Owner of Third Coast Comics in Rogers Park

    Move to RP if you really have visited and you love it. The issues with the commute are real. I'm not sure there is a thing you can do to avoid the LSD traffic as everyone on the road with you is trying to beat you to that one non pothole filled lane.

    Have you really considered Bronzeville, the South Loop, Bridgeport and Hyde Park?

    If you have and those don't work, then welcome to the neighborhood!

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    These are some really great comments -- I can't believe that I've gotten almost 30 comments in just one day!

    A lot of folks have asked if I have considered Bronzeville, South Loop, Bridgeport, and Hyde Park. I have checked out all of those neighborhoods -- and my take on each follows:

    South Loop - Out of my price range for the space I need, and I don't want to live in a highrise.

    Hyde Park - Nice, but too fractured and split by U of C. There seems to be a very small area of desirable homes, and a larger area of blight--and once you think you've found a great place, you find that it's ultimatley in a pretty bad looking area.

    I haven't looked much at Bridgeport (yet).

    Bronzeville - It's in sharp contention with RP (I actually posed this same question to the Bronzeville section of Everyblock--and got a lot of responses as well). Bronzeville is certainly very affordable with nice properties, but there are a lot of empty lots around these affordable and nice condos which worry me a little. Again, RP offers the proximity to a lot of other very desirable neighborhoods, which makes it slightly more desirable to me than Bronzeville--but I still have about 2 months to decide.

  • Carl, thank you for the link.

    The problem with the viewpoint you are expressing is that it, again, removes the power of agency from individuals. While it is undoubtedly true that kids and teenagers by definition face tremendous pressure to conform to their surrounding culture (no matter what that culture may be; I'm sure that's true for affluent neighborhoods as well), illegal and violent organizations everywhere - Chicago, Mexico, Colombia - can only exist with the tacit and often far-ranging support of the home base population from which its members are drawn. Hence the Chicago no-snitch culture and the fact that family members of offenders so often deny that these offenders were gang members. The gang problem in Chicago is not easy to solve, but it sure would be a good start if the mothers, sisters, uncles, and grandparents of these urban terrorists stopped sheltering and enabling their family members' behavior.

  • Mike, you make some good points about Hyde Park. However, as a former Hyde Parker of ten years (and I relocated north because ended up going to school up here), I can tell you that if you want to rent in HP, there are some real gems, and the commute to the further south side is a whole lot more manageable than from here. For instance, I used to live on Cornell and 53rd, on Greenwood and 55th, and (my favorite!) on Harper and 54th. Some fabulously kept rentals - wish I remembered the name of the rental company.

    Anyway, there is a bit of a fractured feel to it, you are right. At the same time, it is a truly unique vibe, with a lot of history and a very rich cultural life of all sorts.

    My two cents. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your stay here in Chi-town!

  • Carl Good

    Avital, you're making some good points that I would definitely not disagree with. If you'll notice, although my earlier post referred to children forced into gangs, I wasn't trying to imply that everyone who is a member of a gang is therefore a victim who didn't choose to be there. I also didn't mean imply that someone coerced into association with a gang thereby loses all power of agency. But the problem of the geographical assignment of school children to gang territories is a new one, and a significant problem that the criminal justice system, parents and the schools still haven't confronted effectively. One of the most striking moments of the This American Life program on Chicago gangs is where a father of a gang member reminisces about his own experience as a gang member back in the '70s or '80s and draws all kinds of assumptions about his own son's gang affiliation today--before he figures out how different the scenario is for his own child and learns that his son definitely did not make a choice the way he did.
    There's also a difference between a school student who actively chooses to get more further involved in a gang than he or she needs to, vs. a child who merely goes along with being forced into affiliation. But for that matter, I think the socioeconomic horizon of students in low income neighborhoods needs to be taken into account in assessing behavior. It's one thing to make a choice when life hands choices to you; it's another to make a choice when life gives you one, easy one and another, very difficult one.
    There's a perception that social attitudes are divided into "liberal" and "conservative" camps, the former declaring all criminals guilty due to life circumstances and the latter insisting that every human being is the author of her own fate. I don't think any nuanced view of crime would fall into either side of this kind of polarization, as I'm sure you'd agree.

  • Catbus Philosopher, Third-Class

    Mike, I have a very good friend who has lived in Rogers Park for most of his adult life. He recently sold his condo on Pratt east of Sheridan to buy a house on Newgard between North Shore and Albion. These areas are attractive and reasonably safe. The closer you get to Howard, the sketchier the neighborhood becomes, and there are spikes of gang activity around Pratt and Ashland. Unlike many neighborhoods in the city, Rogers Park is a patchwork affair with respect to which areas are safe and which are not. But as has been said many times, you can't beat RP for the combination of diversity and amenities. (Albany Park is more diverse, but in the way of amenities, it has almost nothing, unless you love Middle Eastern cuisine and fast-food tacos to the exclusion of everything else that's good in life.)

    I understand wanting easy access to the North Side, but I wouldn't rule out the Hyde Park–Kenwood area completely.

    Unless you want to go to the far Southwest Side (Beverly–Morgan Park), RP and HP/K are pretty much your two choices, based on what you've described.

    Too bad CPS requires you to live in the city. I think you'd find Oak Park to be heaven on earth.

  • RP PAWS Girl Amanda Arts enthusiast and resident cat lady/behaviorist.

    Mike - I grew up around where you did - in a small town about 30 minutes outside Akron (45 minutes outside Cleveland). I'm absolutely a city-dweller and suburbs make me twitchy, but I've always found something very comforting in the *feel* of small towns. When I first moved to RP in Winter 2007 I got a sense of that, but I was a young, single woman living on her own, and I ended up moving to Edgewater to have roommates and feel a bit safer.

    6 years later, married, wiser, and more cognizant of how to be a smart city dweller, my husband and I moved back to RP and for the past year I couldn't be more pleased that we have. Now RP *really* gives me the "small town" feeling that I sensed in 2007, but doesn't rob me of my need for a city's vibrant life. The diversity, the amazing food, the camaraderie... it's almost addicting (but in a good way)! Obviously, we're in a metropolitan city - there are gangs and crime and awful things that happen. That's just part of choosing life in a city. The best example I have of how welcoming and amazing RP can be - when I posted something similar to this back in late 2011 when my husband and I were looking for an apartment - the Alderman (Joe Moore) emailed me personally to help find me housing. Seriously!!

    In the same vein - I actually have friends who are moving out of the city (they love it but he grew up a farm boy and wanted land/space to grow) and have a GORGEOUS place that they are looking to rent. If you'd like to know more information about it - you can email me from my EveryBlock profile.

    Good luck in your hunt and I hope you end up joining us here!!

  • Bobby Mac A happy go lucky whiskey drinking hooligan

    Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

  • DRD

    I am also a transplant from the Akron area. Rogers park/edgwater are a couple of neighborhoods with great potential. You still need to be cautious of certain parts of them though.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

  • Carl Good

    But please, not streets that follow like a tedious argument / Of insidious intent!

  • Fortunately in RP you can wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

  • If the farther north side stays on your list of viable candidates, get a CTA map, draw a line along Argyle St and vertical lines along the Red line and about a half a mile west of Broadway. There's an underappreciated housing stock all through there.
    If it's practical, bicycle up and down candidate streets. There's no other way to find the apartments where the landlord just puts a To Rent sign in the window.
    (And I'm a staunch fan of craigslist.)

  • Dee On Newgard '92

    Mike, whatever your decision is, I think you are on the right track in doing your homework and asking questions of the locals. As you can see ^, you will receive a plethora of advice and opinions here. You will also find Rogers Park to be a very vibrant, engaging and active community. Good luck and welcome to Chicago.

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    Thanks Dee,

    I've really appreciated all of the comments that the folks here have offered, and I'm looking forward to engaging with the community further when I finally become a permanent resident!

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Dee!!! Whatever did you do to Max?

  • Mike, I would be curious to hear which locations in Hyde Park you found to be blighted and/or bad looking?

  • Apple Jaxx Pissing people off not once, but twice...

    Anna, it depends on ones definition of blight. Some could see Christine as blight, she's been living under the viaduct at 51st and Lake Park for the last few years. Couple that with the incessant begging up and down 53rd and 57th streets, that may be all the blight that's needed to run some people away. The original poster, Mike, is all out in Rogers Park soliciting the same feedback. Why anyone would decide on a place to live without visiting and/or spending time there is incomprehensible to me.

  • All good points Apple Jaxx...I was just genuinely curious, still hoping for a response from the O.P...

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    Hey Anna,

    The areas that I'm referring to are south of E61st street, but could I be wrong in calling it Hyde Park?

  • Catbus Philosopher, Third-Class

    South of 60th is Woodlawn. It's improving slowly, thanks to determined intervention by the University of Chicago, but it's not Hyde Park proper, and it's still rough. Hyde Park is between 51st and 60th, east of Cottage Grove, and Kenwood is between 43rd and 51st (but the nicer parts are south of 47th).

  • Rachel Freelance Writer and Editor

    As a RPer who works in Hyde Park, thought about whether she wanted to relocate to there, and decided against it, the small area of actual HP is a major factor against it in my opinion. (That and my husband and I loved RP too much to leave it!) HP is small, lovely, elite, and rather expensive. RP is full of much more life non-university life (restaurants etc), diverse, and cheaper.

    Mind, that's no slander on Hyde Park, I really enjoy walking around it on my lunch breaks. It's just not Rogers Park.

  • Apple Jaxx Pissing people off not once, but twice...

    I've developed a liking for most of Rogers Park, it has a nice vibe and I like the easy proximity to the northern suburbs. I also like the fact that a University community like Rogers Park isn't gobbled up by Loyola, which can't be said for Hyde Park.

  • Hey there Mike, as Catbus noted you were definitely NOT in Hyde Park! One thing to keep in mind when you are unfamilair with an area and browsing online listings is that the listing party will sometimes fudge the neighborhood name if the advertised property is within a couple of blocks of what is considered a more desirable adjacent area.

    You may want to check out the University of Chicago 'Marketplace' - this is an online classified service which lists apartments/condo's for rent - you can often find sublets available - especially over the summer months when some students go home for the break...this might be a good option for you as it would give you enough time to get a feel for the area before you commit to a one year lease. You could use that time to also explore other areas and see which is the best fit. It would also mean you have a really manageable commute to Englewood during your first couple of months here...BTW, I have lived in Hyde Park for 10 years and have no affiliation with the U. of C. It hasn't been a negative or created a divided feeling at all...

    I also wanted to mention a few of the recent additions to the Hyde Park commercial corridor - a 24 hour Clarke's diner, 5 Guys, L.A Fitness, Core Power Yoga, Chipotle, Native Foods, A10, Harper Theater (operated by Tony Fox of Rogers Park theater) AKIRA, Sir & Madame and Independence...also coming soon Yusho (by Chef Matthias Merges), Porkschop, Ja' Grill and Whole Foods!!

    Finally, to the extent that safety is a concern check out There is an interactive map where you can link to any community area - thus far in the first 3 months of 2014 there have been 0 shootings in Hyde Park and there were a total of 6 for the entire year of 2013. In Rogers Park there have been 5 shootings so far this year and there were a total of 21 over the course of 2013...

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    That's great information Anna,

    I've actually had a few developments happen on the job front, in which my current job may consider letting me telework from Chicago, giving me a bit more leverage when looking for a place. I don't know how well that might work -- I'm a sociable person who likes seeing and talking to others, but I cannot take living on Long Island any more for a number of personal reasons.

    Any who -- I've spent some time in the Hyde Park area during visits to Chicago (of which I've done at least once a month since October of around 4-5 days each since I'm seeing someone out there), and I have to admit that the E55 st corridor is tempting, but it just seems so limited, since the surrounding areas seem to have issues. But, I'll certainly continue to consider it.

    Thanks again all! I'm ecstatic to join in on such a vibrant discussion!

  • You're welcome Mike, but just FYI the commercial corridor that I was referring to was actually E. 53rd St...55th and 57th are both ok but definitely not considered the central business district...

  • Mike Spikes Rogers Park Newbie

    Oops! -- thanks for the clarification. :)

  • Leigh Johnson RogersParkMama

    Hey. Late reply. I live in east Rogers Park, but am from the southside. Don't do it. My kids go to school in Lakeview/Logan Square/Northcenter (Irving and Leavitt and Addison and Western). I'm driving 3 HOURS a day to take them back and forth at 7-8:30am and 3-4:30am. Rush hour starts earlier here because of the Board of Trade and Mercantile Exchange plus schools. It's too far. Consider Beverly. Way safe and integrated neighborhood (especially east Beverly. My sister and Her mixed race family live there happily, as do both my brothers and my parents). You'll be right on the rock island, near enough the El, and can also drive.

  • Leigh Johnson RogersParkMama

    For reference, that 3 hours commute is for round trip 14 miles times two. So 3 hours for 28 miles.

  • Leigh Johnson RogersParkMama

    Hyde Park is another great option if a bit more iffy to find the right place.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Leigh, yes, yours is a late reply--a VERY late reply. How did you manage to dig up a post that's more an a year old? Mike's last comment on it is from March 25, 2014. He moved to Rogers Park about 2 months later. Now please just let this thread go dormant again.

  • Joe Lake Facebook, Twitter, Klout, EveryBlock, Yahoo Groups


  • Helena's friend John Lamping is my bro!

    Great advice, Leigh!

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