Elmwood Park, IL- Dense mid-century Chicago Inner Ring Suburb

Elmwood Park was incorporated as a village in 1914 in order to prevent annexation by the greater city of Chicago. By this time the village only had a population of around 1K. This quickly changed as Elmwood saw the bulk of its development between 1910-1950 rising to 18K residents. and maxing out at 26K in 1970. The City has more or less maintained its population since then.

Elmwood City is a rare case of an rather dense and urban mid-century community. Development in most American cities between 1930-1960 would result in a much more suburban and auto centric form. The only cities that seem to run counter to this are Chicago and New York, which is much more akin to the type of mid-century urban development in Canadian cities.

That doesn’t mean Elmwood City is perfect however. Its commercial districts still have significant auto centric stretches, bike infrastructure is basically non-existent, the tree canopy is a bit wanting, and there aren’t enough rental options. But Elmwood City with its gridded streets, quality public transit, lots of smaller condo options, good retail amenities and a density of 14K residents per square mile (more dense than the City of Chicago) has great potential to become a great urban community. With significant in-fill development along its commercial corridors I can easily imagine its density increasing to 20K+ residents per square mile with a much more urban and walkable environment.

Click here to view my Elmwood Park Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Solid density
* Excellent Sidewalk and ADA infrastructure although some areas that are pretty autocentric areas.
* Great connectivity in the street grid.
* Highly diverse demographic especially economic diversity.
* Decent # of walkable schools and well rated. Public High Schools is just across the border in River Grove.
* Good for sale housing options generally moderately priced. Lots of  mid-century condos  available. 1-bed condos sell btwn 90K-150, 2-beds 100K-400K, 3 & 4 beds btwn 200K-750K.
* Lots of small and medium sized parks well dispersed throughout Elmwood with quality amenities (Ballcourts, playgrounds, skatepark, and swimming pool).
* Overall a very safe community.
* Good retail including several supermarkets & drug stores, a hardware store, plenty of banks, a couple boutiques, several floral and gift shops, several bakeries and ice cream shops, plenty of gyms, a local post office and public library, plenty of churches, lots of doctor offices and the Gottliebl Memorial Hospital is in nearby Melrose Park.
* Some very cute 1920s/1930 bungalows in spots but also some more plain 1940s apartment bldgs.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Limited bike infrastructure throughout.
* Some rentals moderately priced. 1-beds lease in the low 1Ks and 2-beds lease from the mid 1Ks to mid 2Ks. 3-beds Few 3-bed generally leasing in the 2Ks. A handful of dedicated affordable housing buildings.
* Ok cultural amenities including many food & bev. businesses, a couple live music venues but not much else.
* Urban form is a mixed bag. Lots of auto centric stretches along Grand.
* Some good urban infill along Conti Pkwy but most of the post WWII development is autocentric.
* So so tree canopy.

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