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As its name suggests the suburb of West Chicago is located directly west of Chicago, about 25 miles outside the city limits. Since the year 2000, West Chicago's population has increased by 3,300 - making it one of the fastest growing areas in DuPage County. There are now about 27,000 people living in the suburb and new downtown development has brought a fresh look to a community born on the back of railroad expansion.
As soon as tracks for the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad were laid in the late 1840s, a small settlement arose out of the prairie land that flanked the westbound train route (which would later become the Union Pacific line). Its rail ties were still shiny new when a second railroad was built through the same spot, creating Illinois' very first train junction in present-day West Chicago. People took to calling the area Junction and it blossomed into an active transportation hub. Facilities to house and fuel the locomotives were set up there, as well as a hotel and dining hall to accommodate passenger travel coming through town. Workers and their families moved to Junction throughout the 1860s, many of which were immigrants from the British Isles and Germany, followed by Mexican immigrants in the early 1900s.
Through the remainder of the nineteenth century railroads continued to run lines through the growing town. To attract industrial development, the village was renamed West Chicago (which officials thought had a better "ring" to it) and free land was offered to anyone who agreed to build a factory along the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern freight line. Employment opportunities opened up and the number of residents in West Chicago increased steadily, a trend that would follow the community into the twenty-first century.
Today, West Chicago has a balanced economical base shared between manufacturing giants, commercial businesses, retail outlets, downtown enterprises and service industries. A solid Latino community has developed within West Chicago, making up nearly half of the population. The surrounding countryside and woodlands provide a peaceful backdrop to raise a family and the median household income exceeds the national average by $20,000 (at the time of the 2000 census).
West Chicago is full of great park sites, but Reed-Keppler Park (129 W National St) is by far the village's most popular recreation spot. The 125-acre grounds feature traditional athletic facilities, such as baseball and soccer fields, but it also has contemporary sporting activities that include a skate park and aquatic center. Hikers can take to the trails in the 25-acre Dyer Nature Sanctuary and those with four-legged friends will enjoy a visit to the enclosed two-acre dog park. Reed-Keppler's sports compound is packed to the gills with seven softball and baseball diamonds, a couple of soccer fields, two fully equipped playgrounds, a lacrosse field, football field with concession stand, and a large parking lot to accommodate all the fun-seekers.
West Chicago has a couple of public golf courses, which the town claims to be "two of the area's finest."
St. Andrews Golf and Country Club (3N441 Route 50, 630-231-3100) has been around since the 1920s and continues to be a premier place to "tee up" in Illinois. The 300-acre site has not one, but two top-rated courses with a total of 36 holes. There's an on-site practice facility and proshop clubhouse with everything you need to outfit your game. St. Andrews is also a well-known setting for weddings as its picturesque landscape and four separate banquet rooms are quite accommodating for large formal events.
The other option for great golf in West Chicago is Prairie Landing Golf Club (2325 Longest Dr, 630-208-7600). This 18-hole course received 4 ? stars from Golf Digest's 2008-09 "Best Places to Play" issue. Rolling hills decorated with lush vegetation, scenic water challenges traversed by footbridges, and enough strategic sand-traps to seriously threaten your average are the bill of fare at this highly-praised Illinois golf club.
West Chicago is a fast-growing suburb with a wide variety of homes on the market to attract new-comers. Those looking to settle in the area will find all sorts of architectural styles, house sizes, price ranges and neighborhood environments to choose from. For all budgets, West Chicago offers affordable residential real estate with all the amenities and comforts buyers want in a suburban abode.
Single-family homes in West Chicago start in the low $100,00s. Lower priced residences include a variety of ranches, two-stories, and older properties with two to three bedrooms and one bathroom. Mid-range houses are generally well-kept three-bedrooms with two bathrooms that boast modern updates, spacious backyards, master suites, and other extras. On the high end of real estate in West Chicago are the several-hundred-thousand-dollar properties that offer large four-bedroom layouts with granite kitchen countertops, stainless steel appliances, three-car garages, custom woodwork, and much more. There are a couple $1 million+ listings in West Chicago, but these are few and far between.
As for attached housing (better known as condominiums and townhomes), West Chicago's market is limited but sufficient. Prices vary from $60,000 to $300,000 - quite a big span - but what you get for your money also runs the gamut. There are some older condominium complexes whose age and amenities are reflected in the lowered price tag. On the other hand, a new townhome development is going up in West Chicago called Woodland Court that features some of the most expensive units in town. The residences are going for $329,000 a pop and offer a pleasant cul-de-sac locale. The middle-of-the-road condo and townhouse options in West Chicago are very nice 10 - 25 year-old units with hardwood floors, open floor plans, in-unit laundry and private outdoor space.
West Chicago Residential Real Estate Info for Single-Family Detached Homes
|Average Sale Price 2007||Average # of Days on the Market||Number of Sales 2007||One Year Price Change||5 Year Price Change|
Source: Multiple Listings Service of Northern Illinois
There are several dozen places to eat in West Chicago that cover all meals and all cravings (especially if you like Mexican cuisine). From fine Italian dining to Steak N Shake diner food, residents and visitors have their choice of good eatin'.
West Chicago's large Latino population influences the town's culinary options offering top-notch Mexican restaurants and excellent taquerias. Tamazula Grill (920 E Roosevelt, 630-293-9666) is popular among West Chicagoans, not only for the tasty steak tacos and polite wait staff but for the casual atmosphere and live music on weekends. Locals frequent El Coco Loco (205 Main St., 630-231-6998) for an inexpensive lunch buffet that changes daily and an informal setting where you seat yourself. El Tesoro (129 W Roosevelt Rd, 630-293-0190) is a family business with cheap menu items and hard-to-beat specials (99-cent tacos on Wednesdays!). This West Chicago favorite serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we suggest stopping by for happy hour because their margaritas are a must-have. Pepe's Mexican Restaurant (320 S Neltnor Rd, 630-231-0510) is a Chicago chain that has been serving up authentic Mexican-American grub for more than four decades. A far cry from your mom-and-pop cantina, this full-fledged dining experience is a festive event that will leave you totally fulfilled and excited to return. Favorite dishes of the house include Enchiladas Cozumel (made with crabmeat and melted Chihuahua cheese) and the pork tamales with ranchero sauce.
For a romantic night out or a special occasion, many West Chicago residents make reservations at Tivoli Ristorante & Caffe (956 N Neltnor Rd, 630-957-6500). This dinner-only venue is a creation of executive chef Matt Fanella, whose culinary genius draws foodies from near and far. The Italian steakhouse has an elegant yet contemporary ambiance with banquet rooms available for private parties and an outdoor patio to dine al fresco during warm-weather months. Also prized for their Italian cooking, Santo Maria's Ristorante Italino (145 Washington, 630-876-6016) is a fairly new establishment that uses old family recipes to wow its customers. Maria's opened its doors in 2004 to provide West Chicagoans with a perfect combination of neighborhood comfort and upscale cuisine. Classic entrée selections include 10oz New York strip, veal marsala, sausage rigatoni, seafood specialties and choose your own pasta dishes.
When you're with the kids, Turner Junction Family Restaurant (212 Main St, 630-231-6550) is a good bet for something everyone will enjoy. And there are several pizzerias in West Chicago to provide excellent delivery and eat-in options for families throughout the suburb: Dominick's Cucina & Pizzeria (207 Main St, 630-293-0725), Pizza Now (956 N Neltnor, 630-876-0210), Luigi's Pizza (1350 Sarana Ave, 630-293-5300), to name a few. Also a fun place to get a bite is Augustino's Rock and Roll Deli (300 W North Ave, 630-293-4580). Augie's has a 1950s diner vibe infused with rock 'n roll memorabilia, life-size statues of legendary rockers, and a drive-thru for anyone in a hurry. Order from a long list of sandwiches, subs, redhots, salads, pastas, pizza and entrées, or create your own mouthwatering masterpiece if they don't have exactly what you crave.
Asian cuisine makes an appearance in West Chicago at Din Hua (1939 Franciscan Way, 630-231-1330), King Wok 59 (956 N Neltnor, 630-231-8881) and Dragon II (125 W Roosevelt Rd, 630-231-9888). Choose to dine-in or carry-out and enjoy Chinese noodles, soups, appetizers and other traditional menu staples.
West Chicago isn't exactly renowned for its shopping and retail outlets, but that doesn't mean you're entirely out of luck. Just to the north of West Chicago in the neighboring town of Prospect Heights, shoppers flock to the Randhurst Shopping Center (999 Elmhurst Rd, 847-392-2287), the largest shopping mall in the immediate vicinity. With over 90 national stores, the mall draws shoppers from all over the Chicagoland area. The shopping center also features a 16-theatre multiplex and several dining options. It was recently announced that the Randhurst Mall will be entirely torn down and reconstructed in the form of an open-air, "Main Street-style" shopping center. Many of the existing retailers will remain, including its anchor department store, Carson Pririe Scott. Construction on the new mall is expected to be completed in 2010, and many of the retail outlets will remain open during the construction process.
West Chicago may not be the most happening suburb in Illinois, but it has a good variety of things to do, whether you're hanging out with friends or spending a night out with your significant other.
If dancing is on your weekend agenda, Boogie Nights (243 W Roosevelt Rd, 630-231-6000) is the best spot in town to shake it to retro hits. Come ready to drink and be merry because this disco-era nightclub keeps the beverages flowing and tunes turned up. Prefer to take in a movie instead of hit the club? West Chicago has a unique opportunity to go "old-school" and see a flick at the drive-in. Cascade Outdoor Theater (1100 E North Ave, 630-293-0940) is open seasonally, Friday through Sunday, for those who want to watch a movie under the stars. There's a picnic area with barbeque grill and full concessions stand to stock up on goodies for the feature. This place is cash only, so don't forget to drive by the ATM beforehand.
Pop into West Chicago's local pubs for a pint and good company any night of the week. Twin Eagles Tavern (105 W Roosevelt Rd, 630-231-1833) and Cobblestone Road Tavern (218 Main St, 630-231-1282) are nice neighborhood haunts with suitable beer selections and a regular crowd of revelers. Those in the mood for bar-hopping can make the rounds and stop by Premier Lounge (27W103 North Ave, 630-293-0553) and Half Time Sports Bar & Grill (27W103 North Ave, 630-293-0553) for a change of scenery and beverage of choice.
West Chicago is a town that likes to celebrate. Annual festivals and events are held throughout the year, providing area locals with plenty of community get-togethers and seasonal fun.
February may be the shortest month of the year, but West Chicagoans have no trouble fitting in their famous Chili Fest before March rolls around. Residents gather to sample a slew of recipes and vote for their favorite. The West Chicago Public Library hosts its annual Egg Roll every March and in May everyone goes downtown to see Blooming Fest, the flower and garden event of the year. This beautiful display of the West Chicago Garden Club's talent is accompanied by food stands, music, an arts and craft show, and sidewalk sales.
West Chicago summers are packed with all sorts of community activities, including Railroad Days. This weekend-long carnival and fine arts show happens in July and features fireworks, a parade, and a Mud Volleyball Tournament. Mexican Independence Day is big in West Chicago, as is the parade and festival held in honor of the holiday every September. The parade kicks off the celebration, which turns into a downtown party boasting well-known Latin bands, mariachi players, traditional food and piñata games.
Come October, West Chicago gears up for Horribly Fun Halloween Happenings with trick or treating at downtown businesses, a costume parade and other events for the kids. December rounds out the calendar of community festivities in West Chicago with Frosty Fest. Worthy of a snow globe, downtown becomes a picturesque winter wonderland showcasing a decorated tree, Santa Claus and the Mrs., live reindeer, carolers clad in old-fashioned garments, a horse-drawn sleigh and, of course, Frosty himself.
West Chicago families with school-aged children are well served by the town's many public and private educational facilities. The majority of the community's students are enrolled in School District #33.
- Currier Elementary 800 Gary's Mill Rd (630) 293-6600
- Gary Elementary 130 E. Forest Avenue 293-6010
- Indian Knoll Elementary 0N645 Indian Knoll Road 293-6020
- Norton Creek Elementary 2033 Smith Rd (630) 587-7200
- Pioneer Elementary 615 Kenwood Avenue 293-6040
- Turner Elementary 750 Ingalton Avenue 293-6050
- Wegner Elementary 1180 Marcella Lane 293-6400
- West Chicago Middle School 238 E. Hazel Street 293-6060
- Benjamin Middle School 28W250 St. Charles Rd. (630) 876-7800
- Community High School 326 Joliet St (630) 876-6200
- St. Mary's Elementary School 147 Garden St. (630) 231-1776
- Wheaton Academy 900 Prince Crossing Rd (630) 562-7500
- Early Learning Center 300 East Forest Avenue 293-6000