Armour Square- Stable Multi-Cultural District south of Chinatown and north of the White Sox Stadium

Armour Square is a very funky narrow rectangle of left over space btwn the Dan Ryan Freeway to the east, railroads to the western, W33rd and the Chicago White Sox Stadium to the south and I-55 to the north. Historically Armour Square included Chinatown and the White Sox Stadium, but I see no reason to include them in this evaluation.

This area was first settled during the Civil War years thanks to the opening of the Union Stock Yards in 1865. The first immigrants to the neighborhood included German and Irish immigrants. By the 1870s many Swedish immigrants arrived and by the late 19th century many Italians and Croatians settled in the central part of the district. By the early 20th century Asians arrived in numbers especially in the northern end of Armour Square. African Americans also migrated to the area around the same time esp. the southern end. These immigrant trends lead to the creation of the Chinatown subdistrict north of 55 and the Wentworth Garden projects in the 1940s. The Dan Ryan expressway in the 50s lead to the destruction of must Black homes in the neighborhood and drastically reduced their population in Armour Square.

The construction of the highways in many ways stabilized Armour Square as it isolated the neighborhood for the blight of Bronzeville to the East. Armour Square also saw its crime decrease after the highways and continued in a more or less stable fashion becoming increasingly Asian as Italians and Croatians moved out of the neighborhood. Some signs of revitalization activity along 31st street with several newer restaurants, but all in all Armour Square doesn’t appear to be changing much. More commercial amenities and in-fill construction would certainly be a major plus towards adding more vibrancy to the neighborhood.

Click here to view my Armour Square album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent urban density.
* Very good ADA and sidewalks infrastructure overall but about 20% of intersections without modern ADA curb cuts.
* Great access to dwtn with the Red line sitting just to the east of Armour Square and solid bike infrastructure.
* Good gridded and connected streets within the neighborhood.
* Historically an Italian District, Armour square is becoming a majority Asian, esp. north of 31st Street.
* Solid economic diversity and excellent generational diversity.
* Some walkable schools within and near Armour Square. Several well rated public elementary schools. A couple well rated middle & high schools not to far away.
* Overall a pretty safe area.
* Good mix of moderately and higher end for sale product. Limited 1-bed condos. Selling around 200K. Decent # of 2-bed condos. Sell btwn 200K-400K. 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 200K-700K.
* A couple subsidized apt bldgs available.
* Only hosts one park (Armour Square Park) but has a diversity of amenities (ballcourts, outdoor pool, playground, and fitness center.
* Decent historic and modern infill. Interesting mix of residential infill from the post WWII era to present.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

*Connectivity to adjacent districts is obviously a bit stunted as Armour Square is surrounded by barriers.
* Rentals are pretty limited here but very reasonably priced.
* Okay Tree canopy.
* Decent cultural amenities including several restaurants & bars and the Chicago White Sox’s stadium. Easy access to Chinatown and better amenities in Bridgeport
* Limited retail amenities including a couple Asian grocerias, a couple boutiques, a couple salons, and some odds and ends Asian Stores, a couple churches.
* Mixed urban massing along 25th and 31st Street. Some auto centric spots in the district.

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