Rogers Park East
Rogers Park, at the northeastern edge of Chicago, was once the weekend destination for the city's well-to-do, with its abundance of beautiful homes just blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan. Today, it is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the country, and it is said that you can hear 80 different languages spoken here.
Rogers Park scores high on value. Spacious vintage courtyard apartments, walk-ups, and single-family homes sit on quiet streets, many of which lead straight to beaches. And since the lakefront community banned high-rise construction to preserve views of the water, many of the original buildings have been, and continue to be, rehabbed. Sometimes, apartment buildings along the lake offer renters their own private beach. How's that for an amenity?
As for the overall vibe, imagine a neighborhood soup of vegans, artists, past, present, and future hippies, legacy residents, intellectuals, lefties, young professionals, families spanning all tax brackets, and, well, you get the drift. A large student population comes via Loyola University, around which restaurants and watering holes bloom. A few of the go include Cunneen's (high-caliber bathroom graffiti), Hop Haus (25 burger varieties), and the Heartland Cafe. Before you were a glint in your parents' eyes, the Heartland Cafe was the place to hang out, buy Che Guevara t-shirts, and read communist tracts. Today, it still is. The menu includes catfish tacos, tofu burritos, and burgers made of (more humanely raised) buffalo. Rogers Park residents are proud of their community and their traditions of living consciously and eating sustainably.
The community's theater scene is strong, with companies like BoHo, Lifeline, Theo Ubique, and Side Studio producing shows independently. Evanston, a suburb that doesn't quite feel like one, is just a few miles north, which expands the theater options further.
By the way, there's been a ton of confusion over the terms "East Rogers Park," "West Rogers Park," and "West Ridge." Here at domu, we consider East Rogers Park to include that part of the Rogers Park neighborhood east of Clark Street, and we consider West Rogers Park to include that part of the Rogers Park neighborhood west of Clark Street. (Our neighborhood descriptions of both East and West Rogers Park, however, are the same.) By the same token, we consider West Ridge to be a completely different neighborhood that sits west of Ridge Avenue.