Today I am pleased to welcome Jill Bishop with her take on raising a family in Logan Square. If you've missed the earlier installments in the Neighborhood Spotlight series here on Wee Windy City, you can catch up and read about life with kiddies in Albany Park, Avondale and Bucktown/Wicker Park.
Jill Bishop is mom to a 3 ½ year old, co-founder of a local parents' lists with over 200 members, co-founder of the Logan Square Mompreneurs group and owner of Multilingual Chicago, a language school for kids and adults. Read on to learn why Jill loves living in Logan Square.
When I moved to Logan Square nine years ago with my then-boyfriend/now-husband, the last thing on our mind was its potential kid-friendliness. The priorities at that time were affordable rent and easy CTA/highway access - followed by diversity, character and some decent restaurants. Fast forward a number of years, and we found ourselves the parents of Henry, now 3 ½. Lucky for us, Logan Square not only turned out to be a great place for us in the early stages of our relationship, but as we raise Henry too! A quick tour for those unfamiliar...
Whether you have kids or not, affordable housing is always a plus. We
never could have bought a single family home closer to the lake, but in
Logan Square we could - and with a backyard (standard Chicago lot, so
just big enough for a kiddie pool and a few toys). As an extra plus for
us, people in the area more often than not renovate their Victorians
rather than tear them down and build new. Logan Square is built up
around the boulevard system, so Logan, Kedzie, Palmer and Humboldt are
all park-like streets with shady trees and flowers, perfect for playing
and picnicking, and surrounded by 100+ year old homes.
You get a sense
of history pushing a stroller or chasing behind a tricycle around here -
whether you're on the boulevards or not. Our parks include Kosciuszko,
with a great playlot and indoor pool, Unity
Park, with another playlot and water playground, a newly expanded
Hass Park and a new and beautifully-integrated and serene play area in
Palmer Square. And with the large Mexican population in the area, no
matter which park you're at, you're never far from delicious paletas
(popsicles) in familiar or somewhat off-the-beaten-path flavors (like
cucumber and chili) on a hot day!
When you're in the mood to
head downtown for family adventures, your choice of two Blue Line stops
(California or Logan Square) will quickly take you there, and Fullerton
or Diversey buses will take you to the lake or zoo without worrying
about parking. But you don't need to leave the area to find lots to do -
in any season.
The heart of Logan Square is Centennial
Summer Sessions on the
sponsors monthly concerts on Saturday evenings on the steps of the
monument, and residents come with blankets and picnics to enjoy a
variety of music and the company of good neighbors. The annual
Milwaukee Avenue Arts
converts empty storefronts into art galleries featuring local artists
and also provides multiple venues for live music, and the
is a music festival certainly worth attending.
Logan Square Farmer's
, across from the monument to the southeast, provides a weekly
opportunity to stock up on organic produce, sample delicious cheeses and
local honey, buy freshly-baked pastries or lunch from restaurant
vendors - and then picnic in the grass and let the kids run around and
play. Due to the tremendous community support for the Farmer's Market,
this year it didn't disappear when the snow began to fall; it just
relocated to the lobby of the historic
, a Chicago Landmark as of 2002. Many of the same vendors come out for
the Winter Market, and kids love climbing the huge old staircase inside
the theater and looking down below.
When it comes to structured
hold Fine Arts for Tots, a great and affordable bilingual
Spanish/English music program, and St Luke's also co-sponsors a
community music program with DePaul.
hosts a toddler storytime on Wednesday mornings,
provides classes for kids (and adults!) in Spanish, French and
Mandarin, and the Home Depot on Elston runs free
the first Saturday of the month. And on a cold or rainy day, taking in
a movie at the bargain $3.50
is a treat for everyone!
When you're hungry from all that
playing, learning and running around, you can find a variety of
kid-friendly options to fill tummies of all sizes. In the summer, tacos
(for kids) and margaritas (for parents) in the enclosed back patio at
can't be beat.
half-price burgers are Wednesday are a great choice (and rest assured
that your child's milk will be served in a cartoon-decorated plastic cup
with a top and bendy-straw),
gourmet Mexican food is served in a big dining room with lots of room
for little legs to stretch out. Pancakes at
are another treat - but then again, so is buying fresh tamales and
arroz con leche (hot cinnamon and rice drink) from any number of street
vendors. When it comes time for sweets, enjoy any number of Mexican
bakeries, locally-sourced baked goods at
Wave Coffee, Italian Ice from
(literally a hole in the wall, but delicious and fresh) or gelato from
For shopping, you can find great deals on kids' clothes at the
Gap Outlet, unique gifts at
(and fabulous flowers, of course) and gourmet treats at
Food & Wine.
And if you're in need of a dollar store, we've got quite a few to
Of course a neighborhood is more than just the
businesses that line the streets, though; it's the people in it. Logan
Square is made up of a tight-knit community of parents, neighbors and
friends that are dedicated to improving its schools, its streets, its
parks and its general surroundings. And chances are, on a warm summer
evening when you're sitting on your front porch enjoying a glass of
wine, you'll find the street full of kids and neighbors happy to see
each other, catching up on recent events and planning the next block
potluck, party or communal garage sale.
Up next in the
Neighborhood Spotlight series: raising kids in Andersonville.
to write about why you love raising a family in your Chicago
neighborhood? Email me to
chat about writing a guest post on Wee Windy City.