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Thread: Forget Celebration; I've got Oak Park, IL (beware lots of pictures)

  1. #1
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Forget Celebration; I've got Oak Park, IL (beware lots of pictures)

    Please follow me on my walk to church in Oak Park, IL:

    Let's start at my apartment building:

    I live in a prototypical 1920's courtyard apartment building. This form/style of building is very common in Oak Park, thoughout most of Chicago, and the other 1st ring suburbs.

    My building is on a corner, so let's look at the other three corners of the intersection:

    Depression era courtyard apartment building goodness


    Want to spend a truckload for a private high school education, then send your kids here - Fenwick Catholic high school


    This is a 1960's style cash-box condo development

    Now we need to walk north.

    When you go past my building and the alley:


    Back of my building

    you immediately step into blocks full (mostly) of large single-family detached homes:






    Here's a large brick bunaglow. I love this house.

    It even has a matching garage:

    Alley behind the large bungalow. You can see Fenwick's tower at the end of the alley.

    We now have to go west past the bungalow, down Randolph Street:



    A nice group of condo converted two flats rows

    Then across the street is a small neighborhood Lutheran church:

    Walkable location, no on-site parking needed because this is a human scaled building and there is sufficient on street parking for congregants who are not walking. No mega-churches - Praise the Lord!

    moving on we see this bit of infill:

    Not the most attractive, but certainly nice in its own way and it meets the street nicely and at least this isn't replicated on every other lot on the block.

    Then across the street from here, we have these two:

    These houses are representative of the predominent style in central Oak Park.


    People are actively rehabing these nice old houses, but beware, in order to have the chance to rehab a house like this in Oak Park you need at least $500,000, but in the end your house might be worth $800,000.

    Turn around and you have these:

    This shows the typical style of houses in throughout all of Oak Park.

    on the next block toward church, we run into these guys:



    More postwar infill goodness, but once again they're not that bad.

    Then we have a nice carriage house to a equally nice house:

    Accessory unit? Extra income? I'd rent it.

    Another alley:


    From the alley we see another large(r) bungalow:



    And a beautiful two-story Arts & Crafts house.

    Now we see the church - St. Edmund's - the oldest catholic parish in Oak Park. Note: when St. Edmund's was established, the existing WASPy neighbors were appalled and tried everything to get rid of it. This was 1909. Thankfully, Oak Park is much more inclusive and tolerant now.



    The design of the orginial sanctuary, rectory, and school building are all in the French Neo-Gothic style, and very well executed for a relatively small complex:








    After church, we exit through the front onto Oak Park Avenue:

    You can see (I hope) the CTA Green line EL tracks in the distance. There is a stop at Oak Park Ave.


    Here is a street level shot of some nice three-story mixed use commercial building across the Oak Park Ave. from St. Edmund's. Talk about meeting the pedestrian. By the way, the storefronts have a diversity of active and engaging service businesses for the passing pedestrian. No dentist offices or storefront apartments here.

    Lastly, let me leave you with an aerial of the blocks around my apartment building:

    This aerial fairly depicts the basic form of Oak Park in general. My building is inside the crude red square. A block to the south (in the aerial, north is to the top) is Madison Street and all the services I need (grocery store, gas stations, 7-11, drug store, etc.), and the Green Line El is four block north.

    I don't need to live in Seaside, Celebration, I'On, or Cherry Hill, I live in Oak Park, IL - The New Urbanist's Wet Dream (tm).
    Last edited by mendelman; 17 Dec 2007 at 2:09 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  2. #2
    maudit anglais
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    Verrrrrrrry nice Mendalman. I really liked Oak Park when I visited Chicago 10 years ago.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Nice walking tour of your neighborhood. Thank You.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Nice! Old fashioned, single family goodness. Those extra wide planting strips can fit some real trees. But be honest, it must be tough dealing with the drug dealers and deviants that the sidewalks bring in.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Beautiful. And you get extra compliments for using italics for captions. Easy to read and understand!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Very nice tour of an very nice, (I have heard, and now have seen) part of Chi-town. I look forward to maybe seeing it in the future.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  7. #7
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Very nice pics. Maybe it's just the time period Oak Park was built, but it looks amazingly like a less dense version of several neighborhoods in the East End of Pittsburgh. Must be a reat place to live.

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Very nice tour of an very nice, (I have heard, and now have seen) part of Chi-town. I look forward to maybe seeing it in the future.
    Just for clarification sake, Oak Park is a separate municipal entity from Chicago, though they share borders along Austin Boulevard and North Avenue. In urban form though, it is nearly indistinguishable from the neighboring Chicago neighborhoods of Austin and Montclare.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Big Easy King's avatar
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    Great tour Mendelman! I visited the Oak Park area a few years ago and I enjoyed it. Your photos bring back nice memories and a greater appreciation for the neighborhood and the city. Thanks!
    A person who strives is one who thrives. It's GREAT to be THE KING!!!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Nice place; reminds me of Brookline, Mass.: similar mix of buildings and similar relationship to the region's principal city.

    What, no Frank Lloyd Wright?

    When will they find an alternative to those parking lots?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I was also thinking that it reminded me of Massachusetts. I live up in WI and have been meaning to check out the Wright sites and the Oak Park area someday. I hope to see that new park in Chicago soon, too. Any opinions on that?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    awesome. I was in Oak Park last spring and loved it. It's leafy and quiet but still maintains an urban feel . . . and don't you have your choice of Metra and CTA into the loop there?
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    Great photos... makes me want to take a trip from my Hyde Park (University of Chicago) home to Johnnie's Italian Beef in Elmwood Park, which is adjacent to Oak Park.

    I probably would have gone to Johnnie's anyway. But on a more urban geography-related note, Oak Park and River Forest are awesome. Extremely varied housing styles, a vibrant downtown (in the city of Oak Park, although it sits on the border with River Forest), arguably the best public transport access of any Chicago suburb, and a strong sense of community combine to make Oak Park and River Forest my favorite Chicago suburbs.

    Parts of River Forest are simply amazing. Like a flat, Midwestern version of Shaker Heights, the Main Line, or even Bel Air, River Forest is first-half-of-the-20th-century vintage, and even the infill blends in with the older architecture. Residences are generally on the north-south streets only, while the east-west streets are covered with side yards. This both allows for extra space and keeps the amount of suburban clutter (narrow houses, driveways featured prominently) down to almost nil.

  14. #14

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    Mendelman, those are great pics of a great place in the Chicago area.

    When I first moved to Chicago, I said there were three places I wanted to live -- 1. Oak Park, 2. Beverly, and 3. Hyde Park. I've lived in nos. 2 and 3, but not had a chance to live in Oak Park yet. I did work for the Village for a couple years, though.

    Oak Park has a diverse mix of housing, but affordability is still a problem. That -- and taxes -- have so far kept me out. But trust me -- I'll get there one day.

  15. #15
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Edit: fixed the broken pic links

    Please follow me on my walk to church in Oak Park, IL:

    Let's start at my apartment building:

    I live in a prototypical 1920's courtyard apartment building. This form/style of building is very common in Oak Park, thoughout most of Chicago, and the other 1st ring suburbs.

    My building is on a corner, so let's look at the other three corners of the intersection:

    Depression era courtyard apartment building goodness


    Want to spend a truckload for a private high school education, then send your kids here - Fenwick Catholic high school


    This is a 1960's style cash-box condo development

    Now we need to walk north.

    When you go past my building and the alley:


    Back of my building

    you immediately step into blocks full (mostly) of large single-family detached homes:






    Here's a large brick bunaglow. I love this house.

    It even has a matching garage:

    Alley behind the large bungalow. You can see Fenwick's tower at the end of the alley.

    We now have to go west past the bungalow, down Randolph Street:



    A nice group of condo converted two flats rows

    Then across the street is a small neighborhood Lutheran church:

    Walkable location, no on-site parking needed because this is a human scaled building and there is sufficient on street parking for congregants who are not walking. No mega-churches - Praise the Lord!

    moving on we see this bit of infill:

    Not the most attractive, but certainly nice in its own way and it meets the street nicely and at least this isn't replicated on every other lot on the block.

    Then across the street from here, we have these two:

    These houses are representative of the predominent style in central Oak Park.


    People are actively rehabing these nice old houses, but beware, in order to have the chance to rehab a house like this in Oak Park you need at least $500,000, but in the end your house might be worth $800,000.

    Turn around and you have these:

    This shows the typical style of houses in throughout all of Oak Park.

    on the next block toward church, we run into these guys:



    More postwar infill goodness, but once again they're not that bad.

    Then we have a nice carriage house to a equally nice house:

    Accessory unit? Extra income? I'd rent it.

    Another alley:


    From the alley we see another large(r) bungalow:



    And a beautiful two-story Arts & Crafts house.

    Now we see the church - St. Edmund's - the oldest catholic parish in Oak Park. Note: when St. Edmund's was established, the existing WASPy neighbors were appalled and tried everything to get rid of it. This was 1909. Thankfully, Oak Park is much more inclusive and tolerant now.



    The design of the orginial sanctuary, rectory, and school building are all in the French Neo-Gothic style, and very well executed for a relatively small complex:








    After church, we exit through the front onto Oak Park Avenue:

    You can see (I hope) the CTA Green line EL tracks in the distance. There is a stop at Oak Park Ave.


    Here is a street level shot of some nice three-story mixed use commercial building across the Oak Park Ave. from St. Edmund's. Talk about meeting the pedestrian. By the way, the storefronts have a diversity of active and engaging service businesses for the passing pedestrian. No dentist offices or storefront apartments here.

    Lastly, let me leave you with an aerial of the blocks around my apartment building:

    This aerial fairly depicts the basic form of Oak Park in general. My building is inside the crude red square. A block to the south (in the aerial, north is to the top) is Madison Street and all the services I need (grocery store, gas stations, 7-11, drug store, etc.), and the Green Line El is four block north.

    I don't need to live in Seaside, Celebration, I'On, or Cherry Hill, I live in Oak Park, IL - The New Urbanist's Wet Dream (tm).
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  16. #16
    I love Oak Park, it's a hidden gem. I remember eating at some ice cream place dowtown, which was good.


    The El tracks provide nice contrast with the surrounding area in Oak Park, I like that. Is it possible to see the Chicago skyline from Oak Park?

  17. #17
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Midwesterner
    I love Oak Park, it's a hidden gem. I remember eating at some ice cream place dowtown, which was good.


    The El tracks provide nice contrast with the surrounding area in Oak Park, I like that. Is it possible to see the Chicago skyline from Oak Park?
    yeah...if you're up on the EL track embankment.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  18. #18

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    Great Shots!

    Mendelman - thanks for the pics; I've just added O.P. to my Chicagoland itinerary. What a great looking place!

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