The largest in size and population of Chicago's 77 officially designated neighborhoods, Austin is located nine miles west of downtown Chicago. With a population of more than 117,000, Austin's boundaries run from Cicero Avenue on the east, to Austin Boulevard on the west, and stretches past the Eisenhowever Expressway to North Avenue.... Show all »
The largest in size and population of Chicago's 77 officially designated neighborhoods, Austin is located nine miles west of downtown Chicago. With a population of more than 117,000, Austin's boundaries run from Cicero Avenue on the east, to Austin Boulevard on the west, and stretches past the Eisenhowever Expressway to North Avenue.
It sits adjacent to the village of Oak Park. Once called Sandy Ridge because of its vast prairie, swamps and numerous waterfowl, Austin got its current name from businessman and real estate speculator Henry W. Austin, who created a scenic 280-acre subdivision in suburban Cicero Township. Then in 1898, with Austinites holding a majority of seats on Cicero's town council, they used their political muscle to put into place the extension of the Lake Street elevated line into their community. Angered by this move, the residents of other areas within Cicero Township, including Oak Park and Berwyn, retaliated in 1899 and held a joint election to force Austin's annexation to the City of Chicago. This effort succeeded, and Austin became part of Chicago in 1899.
There are several distinctive areas within the Austin community today. Austin Village is an historic district of beautifully restored 19th century single family homes; a popular annual tour brings in several thousand visitors each year to view some of these residences. Included in this historic district are four architecturally significant, picturesque residences designed by local architect Frederick R. Schlock in the late 19th century, which showcase the Queen Anne and shingle styles of architecture. Austin's town hall was built in the 1890s near the elevated train stop (now known as the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line) at Central Avenue and Lake Street.
Austin Village offers a variety of recreational amenities for residents including a playground, volleyball court and two basketball backboards. Inside the town hall are eight clubrooms, an auditorium, fitness center and gym, two kitchens and a swimming pool. Also situated within the Austin community is beautiful Columbus Park, which was named after Christopher Columbus, and designed in 1912 by famed architect Jens Jensen, who was known as the dean of Prairie-style landscape architecture.
Located within the park is a swimming pool, sports fields, a volleyball court, four basketball courts, six tennis courts, two outdoor playgrounds, two gyms and a fitness center, a bowling green, wading pool, spray pool, golf course, archery range, lagoon, field house, eleven club rooms, three kitchens, a game room, and a craft shop.
Though Victorian homes dot Austin, most of the neighborhood is dominated by bungalows and apartment buildings. The north end of Austin is distinguished by large, single-family wood-frame homes, while the south portion of the neighborhood primarily contains rows of brick multi-unit buildings. Homes are very reasonably priced.