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This small nook near Lincoln Park, flanked by DePaul to the east and the Chicago River to the west, has both young collegiate charm and a family-friendly feel. Lathrop was first put on the map as a warehouse district that later developed into a lovely, tree-lined neighborhood with residential blocks, two popular shopping centers, and a smattering of coffee shops and eateries. Despite its petite acreage, Lathrop managed to squeeze in a couple schools and a Costco, which is always a handy store to have nearby. Due to its close proximity to Lincoln Park neighborhood, Lathrop property values are also up market. Homebuyers will find plenty of million-dollar, three-story townhomes for sale, but there is also a good selection of refurbished condos and loft spaces in the vicinity that are a bit more affordable.
From a once reserved area of residential streets blended with warehouses, schools and churches, a booming development of middle class and upscale homes has erupted onto the scene, mixed with vintage public housing and a multitude of chain markets and retail stores in the tiny near northwest side Chicago neighborhood of Lathrop.
Because of its vicinity to the Chicago River, this little community was once a bustling warehouse district stretching into residential blocks to the east of the river. Along Clybourn Avenue, one of the first public housing developments was erected in the 1930s. This first wave of public housing in Chicago was successful compared to the later communities of Cabrini-Green and Robert Taylor homes. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) named the project for the social reformer Julia Lathrop, an Illinois-born woman in the camp of fellow Hull House-activists Ellen Gates Starr and Jane Addams. Her many accomplishments included being the first woman member of the Illinois State Board of Charities where she appointed female doctors to state hospitals, removed mentally insane adults from state workhouses, and influenced child welfare reforms such as child labor laws and research on infant mortality-rates.
In more recent years, new construction townhomes, converted warehouses and rehabilitated buildings have created a slew of trendy, desirable living spaces that has led to an increasing number of young adults and couples roaming these beautiful tree-line streets—both with and without baby carriages in tow. Several large grocery stores, such as Dominick’s and Costco provide Lathrop residents with the ultimate in convenience shopping. And with its proximity to DePaul University and the well-known Lincoln Park neighborhood, a spillover of happening nightlife, all-the-rage restaurants and hip retail outlets has also appeared around the premises of this pocketsize Chicago neighborhood.
Finally, being close to transportation is a key factor in a location’s desirability when it comes to buying property. That’s something Lathrop residents already know, as they can immediately hop on the I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) with ease from the neighborhood, making it a cinch to shoot to the Loop for work or to just hang out for a day downtown.
The Lathrop Homes remain intact, though only a portion of the units are occupied. The present residents revel in the safety of the neighborhood and sense of community they get from the diverse population of neighbors. The fate of the two and three-story apartment buildings and rowhouses is under debate between the CHA, who would like to replace the homes with new affordable housing and mid-level condos, and Lathrop Home residents and the Landmarks Preservation Council, who would like to preserve their historical significance.
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