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Named after the largest park within its boundaries, Gage Park boasts a vibrant mix of classic character and history. From its charming bungalows to its Irish Catholic and Eastern European heritage, Gage Park embodies the true multicultural spirit of Chicago's neighborhood network. Expanding its diversity in both residential population and culinary options, Gage Park is packed with a variety of restaurants that are sure to please the taste buds, especially if you're hungry for tamales or tacos. Gage Park has a solid roster of Latin American-influenced eateries, seasoned with a pizzeria and traditional Chicago hot dog stand here and there.
As part of Chicago’s historic 'Bungalow Belt' Gage Park is primarily comprised of single-family, owner-occupied homes. For the most part, middle income families populate this southwest neighborhood. During the past two decades especially, Gage Park has experienced a transition as many of the older residents of European descent have aged and moved to the suburbs, and new Latino and African American families have moved in. There have also been a significant number of new neighbors from the Middle East and Lithuania, making this Chicago neighborhood one of the city’s most diverse.
Gage Park’s housing stock is primarily made of brick bungalows and ranch-style homes. Between the First World War and the Great Depression, more than 80,000 bungalows were built in Chicago. These one-and-a-half-story homes, with detailed masonry and windows, pitched roofs containing dormers, sheltered entrances, and neat lawns signified the pursuit of the American Dream. Gage Park is home to a portion of these bungalows, which embody the rich, working-class tradition the neighborhood continues to uphold.
In addition to bungalows, Gage Park has several examples of the Georgian and Cape Cods residential architectural styles, as well as a few condos, town homes and two- and three-flats. Housing continues to be very moderately priced within the Gage Park neighborhood borders. The average sales price for a three-bedroom single-family house is right around $200,000, although there are quite a few three-bedroom properties for under $150,000. For a place with more sleeping space, values average around $220,000 with some costing as much as $400,000. Not as prominent in the Gage Park neighborhood, condos and townhomes typically sell for about $225,000 for a two- or three-bedroom unit. The cost is higher than many single-family homes because many of these multi-unit dwellings are newly built within the last few years or so and boast modern amenities.
Much of Gage Park’s history revolves around the development of its flagship green space of the same name, Gage Park. In the 1870s, the grounds carried the general name of South Park and were overseen by Commissioner George W. Gage, who died in office in 1875. With the park still in its early developmental stages at the time of his death, Gage’s fellow board members lobbied to have the area named in his honor.
Slowly, more and more land was acquired for the expansion of the community commons, which were anchored at the intersection of Western Avenue and what is now Garfield Boulevard. By 1903, Gage Park acquired ball fields, tennis courts, a wading pool and even a formal garden area. As the park’s aesthetic nature blossomed, the board acquired even more land, extending its reach south and adding a swimming pool, an outdoor gymnasium and a playground. Today the sprawling park defines the character of this largely residential neighborhood.
Gage Park’s early residents were largely Eastern European immigrants and Irish Catholics. In the 1960s and ‘70s, however, the area’s makeup took on a new element with a hefty population of Hispanics and Latinos. Today, it stands as a melting pot of early immigration architectural influences (as seen in the area’s historic bungalows) and vibrant influences of Latino cultural. The park serves as a hub for many parties, events and festivals that give Gage Park its defining tight-knit community charm.
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