From what cool neighborhoods can I commute to Hyde Park?
April 7, 2008 6:40 AM   Subscribe

As I finish up the first year of my graduate program at U. Chicago, I think I'd like to move north from Hyde Park to a more exciting neighborhood. But where?

Hyde Park is nice, but I think I'd like to move to someplace with more stuff going on. A neighborhood with cool coffeeshops and bars and maybe a music venue or two - but still livable (safety, grocery shopping, rent ~ $1500 for 2BR, &etc). I'll still need to be able to get to class though, by public transit and in some reasonable amount of time (which realistically seems to mean I'll need to live near the Red or maybe Blue lines).

What neighborhoods/areas should I be looking at?
posted by kickingtheground to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Logan Square, Ukranian Village, Wicker Park... Pilsen? Those seem to be where the artsy post-uchicago folks end up.
posted by bonheur at 6:49 AM on April 7, 2008

Be aware though, it's enormous pain in the ass to commute from the northside down to campus. I work for the U of C in the loop, and the few occasions where I've had to go to campus, it's a long ride on the red line then the bus, or a long green line ride followed by a long walk through a bad neighborhood.
posted by Oktober at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2008

This is coming from a clueless suburbanite, but Beverly?
posted by goethean at 7:53 AM on April 7, 2008

I moved to Pilsen from the north side last year. So far I enjoy it, but it's very sketchy at times and there is occasional white person resentment.

That said, my neighbor and good friend is at the UofC school of law and has had to make very special arrangements to get down there every day. Basically she leaves here at 7am so she can get a parking spot. She'd just as soon get rid of her car, but she needs it specifically for getting to UofC.

However, Pilsen is super close the Loop. I have several routes for getting over there. The 60 bus will get me there in about ten or fifteen minutes. The L is another option. If you look at a map you'll realize that Pilsen is generally closer to the Loop than north side neighborhoods like Lincoln Park.

But given your mention of night life, safety, and your price range ($1,500/mo is wayyyy more than you'll spend here) I'll say that Pilsen is not for you. Rumors that the neighborhood is up and coming and rapidly gentrifying are just that - rumors. The 'hood has proven surprisingly resistant to urban colonization by white pioneers. (I blame the language barrier which wasn't present in black neighborhoods which have flipped.) You may want to look closer to the south loop or alternatively the neighborhoods immediately west of the loop.

I would personally avoid the northern red line corridor. I'd rather take a rail car to Auschwitz than commute on the red line five days a week. It's the worse commute in the city. Seriously.

Okay. So, say you're looking at apartment ads. What you'll need is a cta map, so you can cross reference ads with their proximity to the CTA. The trip planner at the CTA website is also useful for sticking in an address and seeing what a potential commute will be like. Lastly, google maps now incorporates CTA bus and L stops.

Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2008

nthing bonheur. I used to live in all three, and would consider them the best options if you have to live in Chicago.
posted by nikksioux at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2008

I lived in Lakeview the entire time I was a grad student at U of C. On the plus side, everything you could possibly want other than school is plentiful and close by, and the neighborhood is safe and fun. For instance, I lived a block away from the Vic, whose Brew & View was a lot of fun. There are tons of bars in the area (especially as you get closer to Wrigley Field) which keeps the neighborhood buzzing all through the night, and there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops (of both chain and independent persuasions). It's also possible to get an apartment within a block or so of the Belmont or Addison stops on the red line or the Wellington or Diversey stops on the brown line that will be in your price range.

The only downside, but a major one, is that school is pretty far away. This has two repurcussions:
  1. you need to budget over an hour for your commute each way. There are lots of different ways, but they all take upwards of an hour. (Red line to the #55 bus was my standby until construction on the tracks on the North Side slowed this route down to a crawl. You can also take red, brown, or purple to the loop and then the #2 or #6 bus to Hyde Park.)
  2. Especially if you're going to be commuting by public transit it's much harder to be involved in the night-time and weekend activities that go on at school. It's much harder to stay out at Jimmy's or the pub until midnight when you know you're going to have to spend an hour on public transit, and it makes weekend Guitar Hero sessions seem a lot less attractive.
I think you're going to find this tradeoff everywhere, though. There just plain aren't any great places to live that are close to Hyde Park, so people associated with U of C generally have to decide between fun neighborhood and short commute. Good luck! (Oh, and if you want to know more, my email's in my profile.)
posted by jacobm at 9:01 AM on April 7, 2008

You can bike commute from Pilsen (or get a scooter) in short order. South Loop is more swanky, new condos and stuff. Will you need to be on campus every day? I would stay in HP in that case. Just make an effort to visit other neighborhoods on weekends and on weekday evenings to get a feel for them. Later on when you don't need to be on campus every day, move to your new favorite neighborhood (partial to Uk. Village myself).
posted by bonheur at 9:01 AM on April 7, 2008

Also, anywhere on the Red Line, you will have to deal with traffic from Wrigley Field (in walking, driving, and overcrowded Red Line trains) It is definitely to be avoided if possible.
posted by nikksioux at 9:04 AM on April 7, 2008

I've lived in Chicago, but never outside of Hyde Park. (U Chicago represent !!)

I would at least consider doing something else. Move to the very easterly side of Hyde Park near the lake. Then take the Metra "Electric" into town all the goddam time. Once you're in the loop, it's a hop / skip / jump to whatever fun you need. This is backwards from your request, but I think it might help. The Metra is highly underutilized by U Chicago students (undergrads), but it's fast and efficient and it's no big deal to switch to the El. Yes you'll have to learn the lines and figure out how to get back super-duper latenight (there are only trains at 11:20 PM and 12:50 AM it looks like), but it makes the #55 Garfield bus misery a thing of the past. Plus there are closed shelters at the stations.

What I would do. Move to 57th / 58th near the museum. Then I would have two bags, a "work bag" and a pre-packed night bag (I'm a dude, so perhaps women already do this). I'd get home from class at whatever like 3 or 4, swap bags, and catch the Metra uptown. Then I'd hang out uptown in whatever hipstery coffee bar and do my reading/work. Then I'd hit up some grub, beers, music whatever, and head back to HP on the 11:20. Doing that 3 nights / week would be a lot more convenient for me than commuting 1.25 hours on the red line and waiting in that howling wind over the Dan Ryan for the #55 bus. Every. freaking. day.

Plus, if you have a bike, you can bike uptown along the lake in the summer time. It's pretty much parallel to the Metra tracks so you could even bike park way if you got tired / got a flat / got sick of the CRAZY headwind....
posted by zpousman at 9:29 AM on April 7, 2008

I never lived anywhere except Hyde Park, but I did end up very close to the museum so that Loop-destined public transport was more easily accessible than it was from the Ellis side of campus.
posted by catlet at 9:50 AM on April 7, 2008

Best answer: What about the South Loop? I'm about 3 blocks from the 6, half a block from the Roosevelt red line, and close enough to the Loop to get there in 10 minutes. My building's within 2 blocks of the Jewel and Target. I like it because it makes commuting to work easy, and on the weekends and at night, it's easy to get home if I end up somewhere else.
posted by melodykramer at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the express buses that go to Hyde Park (some of them subsidized by your tuition dollars). The El trains in Chicago are a bad way to go, especially if you're taking about taking a train to a bus. The #6 Jackson Park Express from the South Loop (Michigan/Congress) will get you to U of C in 15 minutes, and they operate on a fairly regular commuter schedule through the day.
posted by onalark at 10:44 PM on April 7, 2008

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