Soaring high-rises. Bustling streets. Vast urban beaches. This isn’t the Loop or River North; it’s Edgewater, a lakefront neighborhood on Chicago’s Far North Side. Edgewater (population about 64,000) is one of Chicago’s largest and most densely populated neighborhoods, due in large part to the long chain of tall high-rise apartment buildings on Edgewater’s eastern edge, known as Edgewater Beach.
Edgewater is more than just an impressive skyline, though. West of the Edgewater Beach, mid-rises, low-rises and single-family homes spread out beneath canopies of tall trees. Small businesses thrive on the major commercial arteries of Broadway, and Clark, Ashland, and Devon avenues.
The neighborhood is very ethnically and economically diverse, and it’s also home to one of Chicago’s largest international populations, with large groups of immigrants from Africa, India and Eastern Europe.
Education levels are above average for Chicago, with almost one-third of Edgewater residents having received at least a bachelor’s degree.
Public Amenities, Services, Civic Organizations
The beaches and parks lining the lakefront are Edgewater’s greatest asset. Osterman Beach (formerly Hollywood Beach), located at the end terminus of Lake Shore Drive, is one of the city’s largest and most popular beaches. Thorndale Beach, located a block north of Osterman, is a bit quieter but equally impressive.
In the colder months, Edgewater residents flock to Broadway Armory Park, one of the Chicago Park District’s largest indoor recreation facilities, to shoot some hoops and lift weights.
The Edgewater Development Corporation focuses on attracting new businesses to the community, and the Edgewater Arts Council organizes popular cultural events, like the Edgewater’s Arts and Music Festival.
The majority of Edgewater residents are renters, including the large population of senior citizens living on fixed incomes. Only about one-third of the homes in Edgewater are owner-occupied.
Generally speaking, Edgewater condominiums are a bargain compared to similar homes located further south, in Uptown and Lake View. A typical two-bedroom condo in Edgewater sells for $200,000 to $400,000. Three-bedroom condos and townhouses are usually priced from $350,000 to more than $1 million.
Although Edgewater is largely built-out, several new mid-rise developments have been built in the neighborhood in recent years, including The Clarovista and the colorful Catalpa Gardens.
Lake Shore Drive, Chicago’s scenic six-lane expressway that runs along Lake Michigan, provides Edgewater residents with easy access to downtown Chicago. Travel time is usually about 20 minutes to the Loop.
The CTA Red Line, which also takes passengers to Evanston and the Loop, runs through the heart of Edgewater, between Broadway and Winthrop Avenue. The Red Line makes four stops in Edgewater, at the Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Thorndale, and Granville stations.
Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
Edgewater’s shopping and dining districts don’t have the same cachet as nearby Andersonville, but they more than fill the needs of the neighborhood. For grocery shopping, the Dominick’s on Broadway is a one-stop shop. The Edgewater Antique Mall is one of Chicago’s best spots to find vintage furniture and accessories.
When it comes to good ethnic food, Edgewater has an embarrassment of riches. For affordable and high-end Japanese food, Sunshine Café on Clark Street is the place to be. And neighboring Ethiopian restaurants Abyssinia and Ras Dashen serve up authentic Ethiopian fare on Broadway.
Loyola University, a private Jesuit university with about 10,000 undergraduates and more than 5,000 graduate students, is located in both Edgewater and Rogers Park. Parents of younger children can choose from public schools like Lake Shore Preschool and Nicholas Senn High School, or private schools including Northside Catholic Academy, St. Gregory the Great High School, and The British School of Chicago.