A suburban feel in an urban surrounding, Beverly has long been known as one of Chicago's safest and most stable middle class neighborhoods, proud of its quiet tree-lined streets and cultural diversity. Residences in Beverly are prized for their wide open lots and large countryside-style homes (the kind you're likely to see a tire swing hanging from the backyard tree). While portions of Beverly are characterized by stately manors with circular front drives, the majority of the neighborhood offers attractive two-story redbrick houses, raised 1940s ranches, and cottage-like split-levels with side drives and good-sized lawns. The bulk of Beverly's businesses are found on Western Avenue, where most of Beverly's residents go to grab a bite and hang out with friends. A legion of restaurants, pizzerias, takeout places, and cafés edge the street, a few with a noticeable Irish tinge that pays tribute the area's ancestry.
In the mid-1800s, Beverly was an unnamed subdivision in the sparsely populated Washington Heights settlement. Even with the annexation of Washington Heights to Chicago in 1874 the area was slow to gain any distinction or community identity.
It wasn’t until the 1890s, when the Rock Island Railroad designated its 91st Street Station as 'Beverly Hills' that the neighborhood finally took on a name of its own. It is the subject of some debate among Beverly residents whether this name is in direct reference to Beverly Hills, California, or to Beverly, Massachusetts. What isn’t in doubt is that the 'Hills' part is a reference to the glacial ridge that runs through the neighborhood. Once the shore line of a glacial lake, this ridge is one of the few areas of the city that is not flat; in fact the highest point in Chicago is in the Beverly neighborhood at 91st Street and Western Avenue.
When it was still considered part of Washington Heights, the Beverly area was settled by white European Protestants, followed by Irish and African Americans in the 1920s. Within the next decade, the number of inhabitants increased 80% and then, due to the post World War II Baby Boom, the population grew substantially again from 1940 to 1960, as it did throughout Chicago and the United States. Today the neighborhood is racially integrated, sustaining its reputation as a middle class community that boasts many public parks and some architectural relics such as an Irish castle. Now that’s one thing in Chicago you don’t see everyday!
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