An inside look at Chicago real estate

Garfield Ridge: A Working Class Neighborhood

Early in the 20th century, the neighborhood along Archer Avenue, bordering what today is Midway Airport, came to be called Garfield Ridge. That came about after 55th Street started to be called Garfield Boulevard (after the 20th president James Garfield) and the subtle ridge running between 53rd and 54th streets.

Dream Town Realty’s residential consultant Patricia Pulido grew up in this neighborhood and still lives there today. In fact, she now owns her old family manse where she spent her happy childhood years.

Garfield Ridge

Asked why she likes the neighborhood so much, she answered, “This is an older, quiet area. A lot of residents have lived here for a long time and everyone takes care of one another.”

Garfield Ridge, which is an L-shaped community area of Chicago, sits on the western edge of the city in an area stretching from Pershing Road to 59th Street, north to south, and from Harlem Avenue on the west to Cicero Avenue on the east. It has always been a working class neighborhood, but the job profiles of the residents have changed from people working in manufacturing to public service workers. Many policemen live in the community.

It was also a part of the city that rode the housing boom at the turn of the new century – only to see prices collapse with the onset of the Great Recession.

The homes of Garfield Ridge are not large – traditionally in the 1,500-square-foot to 2,000-square-foot range with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. During the real estate boom years, these bungalows rose in price to the upper $300,000 range, only to see prices quickly deflate during the recession to as low as $125,000.

Recovery has been steady, said Pulido, and the average Garfield Ridge home today sells for around $200,000. There has been new construction over the past decade, however, and these recent structures are larger – in the 2,500-square-foot to 3,000-square-foot range, carrying a price tag today of $400,000 to $500,000.

A lot of families in Garfield Ridge were hit hard by the recession, which meant some homes had to be abandoned. There are still a few fixer-uppers that sell for about $125,000.

Lately, homes haven’t been staying on the market very long, said Pulido. “The inventory has dwindled with only 20 to 25 for sale at any given time. The trend line has been for homes to sell in about 15 to 20 days.”

One of the reasons homes have been moving so quickly is that Garfield Ridge remains one of the more affordable, stable neighborhoods in Chicago.

There is one other thing Pulido likes about Garfield Ridge. She’s in training for the Chicago Marathon and her running circuit is the four-mile loop around Midway Airport, which has gotten quite popular.

As Pulido observed, “so many people run around the airport, there’s now a Midway running group.”