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Chicago Neighborhoods' Names





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Chicago Neighborhoods
& How They Got Their Names

YOU'VE HEARD IT, AND PROBABLY SAID IT YOURSELF: "Chicago is a city of neighborhoods." And, while that statement is true, the same could be said of any large city in the United Sates. Immigrants come and settle with others from their home countries and form unique pockets of traditions, dreams, and values in their new surroundings. These pockets, or more correctly, these neighborhoods, go through many transformations over the years. The first settlers, in most cases, move on to better their lives and a new group of immigrants with a similar set of goals quickly take their place. Histories of these neighborhoods, especially those of Chicago, are fascinating and in most cases have been preserved, somewhere.

Inspired by an article submitted by Connie Agnos and written by Niick Greene of Mental Floss (http://mentalfloss.com), this series will explore the beginnings of Chicago's neighborhoods and will especially highlight the origins of their names. Though this is the main purpose of these pages, certain terms must first be defined and explanations given as to how they are used to describe various parts of the city.

Chicago was grouped into nine districts, for this purpose, which roughly corresponds to their location within the city boundaries. Within each district are specific areas called communities.

Community areas in Chicago refer to work done in the late nineteenth century by the Social Science Research Committee at the University of Chicago. They unofficially divided Chicago into seventy-five community areas within the nine districts. Later, two more communities were added: O'Hare and Edgewater. These seventy-seven areas, or communities, are well-defined and static. Census data is tied to the community areas, and they serve as the basis for a variety of urban planning initiatives on both the local and regional levels.


The City of Chicago recognizes over two hundred individual neighborhoods that are as diverse and colorful as their residents. There is no official list of the city's neighborhoods or of their boundaries. New neighborhood names and identities appear almost daily due to real estate development and changing demographics. While this list is extensive, it isn't absolute.

Simple Organizational Outline of Chicago!

City of Chicago   
(Black lines)
City divided
into Districts
(Blue lines)
City divided into Communities
(Green lines)
City divided into Neighborhoods
(Orange lines)

 Although most communities contain more than one neighborhood, they may also share part of a neighborhood of an adjacent community or communities. Since new neighborhoods are constantly being born, abandoned, and subject to boundary changes, it is correct to assume that unlike communities, neighborhood boundaries are mobile.

The difference between the two, "neighborhoods" and "community areas," is simple: neighborhoods reflect a quality of life and culture whereas communities focus on economic factors, such as education and employment, housing trends and prices, and other demographic aspects of an area. 

Chicago’s 77 Community Areas Grouped into Districts

The format for this series follows the same pattern. Each of the nine districts is named, and each of the seventy-seven communities that lie within that district is listed. These lists are constant, static, "written in stone;" in other words, they do not change.

Finally, the neighborhoods that are contained or overlap into each of the communities are documented; and, when available, the origin of their name is explained. Since many neighborhoods lie within multiple communities, their information will usually be listed the first time they are mentioned, unless they carry the same name as that of their community. Included, too, are name-origins of prominent locations that represent a large part of life within their particular neighborhood.


And now, let's get to it!
Where did Chicago Neighborhoods get their names?