As the city’s streetcar line was extended out from the city center in the early 20th century, residents discovered Portage Park, a small enclave on the city’s Northwest Side.
The neighborhood was a breath of fresh air for residents escaping crowded city tenements. Today residents still enjoy the respite the neighborhood offers, along with parks, affordable homes and accessible public transit.
Homes are at the heart of this community, part of Chicago’s historic Bungalow Belt. The majority of homes classic Bungalows or single-family homes, with a few condominium buildings. The neighborhood’s architecturally significant churches add historic charm.
The neighborhood’s namesake park in the neighborhood’s center is the largest on the city’s Northwest Side. A community gem since 1913, the park has walking trails, playgrounds, wide-open spaces and an Olympic sized pool used in the 1970s for U.S. Olympic Team time trials. In addition to indoor and outdoor pools, there are tennis courts, baseball, football and soccer fields, a water park for kids and even a park for your pup.
Along Irving Park Road there is an eclectic mix of restaurants including traditional steakhouses, classic diners and casual coffee shops. Mexican restaurants, burgers and beer and old-school buffets are also available. In addition to eateries, Irving Park Road is lined with bars from trendy cider houses and breweries to small dives and karaoke hotspots. Shopping is abundant in the Six Corners area with a resurgence of new shops.
The neighborhood was once home to several movie palaces. The Portage Theater, renovated with public funds, houses a performing arts center with independent and silent films. Another historic theater, The Patio, was privately restored to show first-run movies. The Filament Theatre is a favorite among kids both as audience members and participants in various camps and classes. Students attend highly rated elementary schools and Edwin G. Foreman or Carl Schurz high schools.
Portage Park is accessible by the CTA Blue Line’s Montrose Station in the Kennedy Expressway median; and Metra’s Milwaukee District/North stop is just west of the expressway.