With new construction popping up in pockets in Woodlawn,
and many of the old buildings being completely rehabbed, this area is becoming popular with people looking to live on the city's south side.
Woodlawn is conveniently located just blocks from the University of Chicago,
which makes it attractive to professors and employees of the university who want a short commute without Hyde Park
prices. This influx has sped up the revival of the community, and the once empty streets are now home to young professionals.
Schools in Woodlawn
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Restaurants & Nightlife
The Woodlawn neighborhood proper features little in the way of restaurants, but the most popular coffee shop in the area, Robust Coffee Lounge, stands at the corner of 63rd Street and Woodlawn Ave. The fast service, wide range of coffee drinks and locally sourced bakery treats mean this cafe always stays busy. If you like things spicy or want a coffee adventure, make sure to try the Mocha Diablo. This unusual drink blends a typical mocha with fiery hot pepper syrup to create a unique taste sensation.
A few minutes north on Woodlawn, Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen serves beef and lamb shawarma that stands as a local favorite because of its fine texture and generous use of spices. For something a bit lighter, the freshly made tabouleh hits the spot with its refreshing combination of cucumbers and mint. The sleek, modern atmosphere ensures nothing distracts you from your meal. To top it all off, a BYOB policy saves you more than a few dollars.
Woodlawn doesn't have a ton of nightlife, but don't let that be a deterrent. Neighboring Hyde Park provides several bars within a reasonable distance. University of Chicago students and professors alike love The Cove Lounge for the quieter area separated from the televisions and sports fans where you can converse with friends. The main draw here comes in the form of inexpensive drinks, always a rare find in the city.
History & Culture
Woodlawn has suffered many ups and downs through its long history. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair was what first brought people to the area, including a large proportion of German immigrants. It remained a stable, middle-class neighborhood until the racial tension of the 1960s.
After spending decades in disrepair, Woodlawn is in a revival, fueled by members of the community. Several organizations work diligently to save the area's historic landmarks and bring the neighborhood back to life.
The area's most prominent historical attraction is its 91-year-old church, the Shrine of Christ the King. This classical church was chosen as one of the landmarks open to visitors during Open House Chicago, an annual celebration that allows access to 150 architectural masterpieces across Chicago. In addition to bringing visual beauty to the area, the Shrine offers several series of free classical concerts throughout the year. These concerts are provided by some of the most prominent classical musicians in Chicago, providing a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
While most condos
and apartments here provide parking, owning a car is not absolutely necessary. Biking is common, and special signs directing cyclists to the most popular areas are everywhere. Cyclists need to be aware that there are no dedicated bike lanes in the neighborhood.
CTA buses run at regular intervals for most of the day and night and can take you right to the train station, which makes travel across the city simple and cheap.
This area is included in the Uber map of Chicago, but it is not a common mode of transportation for residents. Taxis, however, are readily accessible, but must be called ahead of time.
The nearest airport is Chicago Midway International Airport, and it's a snap to get there on the Orange Line, one of the city's famous elevated train lines.
Woodlawn has the advantage of allowing residents to take advantage of everything Hyde Park has to offer while still staying within their budgets. Bargain hunters looking for low-priced luxury will love this neighborhood. Average rent costs come in at $680 for a one-bedroom residence. Other than housing, the cost of living is generally higher than average, but you will find that this is the case in most major cities.
There are few stores in this area, but an Aldi's is available for purchasing grocery staples. Most residents do their shopping in the neighborhoods to the north. There you will find not only Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, but also a variety of used book stores, record stores and specialty boutiques, and all just a few minutes away.
Cyclists, however, should check out Woodlawn's only bike repair shop, Blackstone Bicycle Works. Blackstone Bikes, as it's commonly called, is not simply a place to have your bike repaired. It offers mentoring programs to the local youth and even employs them in their "Earn A Bike" program. When you visit this shop for bicycle repairs, you're also helping to repair the community.
What this neighborhood lacks in shopping, it more than makes up for in its parks. In addition to playgrounds that dot the area, there are two major parks, each providing a wide array of activities.
The Midway Plaisance, with its statues and fountains, is frequented by locals all year long. In the spring and summer, you will find the perfect spot for romantic walks or picnics on the grass, but it's the winter months that bring out the park's best feature: the outdoor ice skating rink. Ice skating is free if you bring your own skates, but inside the park building you will find skate rentals. Spend the afternoon skating under a gentle snowfall, and then head inside for hot cocoa.
The largest park in Woodlawn is Jackson Park, which covers an area of 500 acres. These acres are put to good use with several baseball fields, basketball courts and even a golf course. Visitors looking for serenity will appreciate the Japanese garden and bird watching trails. Be sure to keep your eye out for the wild green parrots, which are descended from pets
that escaped in the 1960s.