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Old 08-20-2009, 04:49 AM
 
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Hi,

I am moving from Boston (where I have lived for many yrs) to Chicago and need some advice from you who are familiar with both cities.

I have been doing some research/homework on Chicago neighborhood. Here is my humble 2 cents and questions:

* Lincoln Park in Chicago is comparable to Back Bay or South End in Boston: vibrant, with great shops and stores, great for young professionals and families

* I am looking for a Brookline and/or Newton equivalent, safe areas with great schools, nice tree-lined streets, a little quieter than Back Bay/South End and etc. The closest I can compare to (again, based on some readings so far) is neighborhood such as: Andersonville. Is this a correct assessment?

* How would you compare Lincoln Square and Ravenswood, Ravenswood Manor to Lincoln Park or Andersonville? If you are familiar with Boston neighborhoods, can you help me to name some comparables to these areas? (i.e. Cambridge? Belmont? JP?)

* Among these, am also looking for areas with park or near the beach for nice jogging trails; preferable also areas with ample street parking nearby

* Last, I will be taking a trip to Chicago next week to start looking at apartments, any suggestions of neighborhoods to look/explore for a good jump start?


THANK YOU so much for your help in advance. I realize no matter how much research I do, it is always best to ask locals for insights. Thanks again in advance!
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Old 08-20-2009, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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I'm not familiar with Boston (though I did just spend a great week on the Cape!), but I am fairly familiar with Andersonville and Lincoln Sq. I like both, they are both fairly lively neighborhoods with fun shops and restaurants. I actually lived for several years at Argyle and Wolcott before Lincoln Sq became cool. Most of the shops on that stretch of Lincoln were still german or austrian. Now there's much more of a mix. I also loved Ravenswood Manor when I lived in the city several years ago. At the time, it was a very quiet little enclave. I haven't been there in a while, but would expect it would still be pretty quiet, it's mainly single family homes and 2-3 flat apt buildings. The L runs at street level in the Manor. If I'd been able to afford to buy there, I would have.
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Old 08-20-2009, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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Lived 5 years in Boston and Somerville.

If you're looking for quality public schools equivalent to Newton and Brookline you'll have to look in the suburbs. The closest equivalent to those two are probably Evanston and Oak Park.
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Old 08-20-2009, 09:02 AM
 
Location: Chicago - Logan Square
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I grew up in Boston and have been in Chicago for over 15 years. It is impossible to make direct comparisons between neighborhoods - Chicago is massive compared to Boston, and the suburbs that would be somewhat equivalent to Brookline or Newton are much further out (Wilmette, Winnetka or Highland Park are somewhat similar). Evanston public schools are more like Cambridge public schools than anything in the Boston area.

That said, Andersonville and Ravenswood are really nice areas. You need to check specific school districts to see which areas would work for you. Northside Parents Network (http://www.npnparents.org/index.asp - broken link) is a very good resource for checking out schools. What grade levels are you looking at? That can make a huge difference. The better school districts tend to be on the North and Northwest sides, but between magnet schools and open enrollment schools there is a wide array of options.
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Old 08-20-2009, 09:09 AM
 
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Schools will be your stumbling block in Chicago. I would look at Evanston as you can have schools, lakefront, cool housing/vintage apts., great university in town on lakefront, and on the City of Chicago's "el" train red line (or you can even take the Metra suburban line right from downtown Evanston to the Loop). Evanston borders Chicago on the north lakefront.
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Old 05-17-2010, 07:33 AM
 
8 posts, read 22,109 times
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Hi Faith, I was wondering how your move to Chicago went?? I maybe relocationg from Boston also (Quincy area) to the Chicago area for work, but I must say after reading all the post, I am a little nervous about the move, in 2010 Chicago doesnt seem to be a safe area?

Whats your take on the area since you have been there for a while??
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:35 AM
 
11,289 posts, read 24,865,519 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Move22 View Post
Hi Faith, I was wondering how your move to Chicago went?? I maybe relocationg from Boston also (Quincy area) to the Chicago area for work, but I must say after reading all the post, I am a little nervous about the move, in 2010 Chicago doesnt seem to be a safe area?

Whats your take on the area since you have been there for a while??
Actually violent crime in the city (as has been stated before) is down 65% from the 1990's, and this year is at the lowest levels since they started keeping track 60 years ago.

I've been tagging along with a friend who's condo hunting, and I was surprised at how quiet and nice the side streets of North Center and Roscoe Village are. I've been in the area a ton, but almost always on the main streets going to bars or restaurants. Those side streets are really refreshing. They actually have decent public schools in that area as well.
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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I agree with the quietness of many of the "off the main drag" streets in basically every neighborhood of Chicago. That is probably something that is quite different from parts of Boston where the compact layout means that there are not as many residential only side streets.

The level of violent crime in Chicago is distressing, however the geographic range of that crime is very very limited -- although there are nearly no physical barriers that would prevent violent crimes from happening anywhere the culture of the gangs stay well away from traditionally quiet areas.

I will disagree with the assertion of basically any part of the City of Chicago having "decent" public schools because of the warping that happens with the extreme emphasis on selective enrollment -- there are only a handful of 'neighborhood' schools that really merit consideration, those are all elementary schools. The high schools that are at all acceptable are either in part or totally selective admissions -- in some ways this takes the worst aspects of "busing" to an extreme -- kids may have to to cross through very rough areas to get to the school that offers them the best shot at advancing to a selective college. The ability to develop friendships in the neighbor is very much compromised. Participation in sports and other traditional high schools activities is difficult.

Really I do not recommend that anyone move to Chicago without a thorough understand of just how dysfunctional much of the CPS system is...
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
I will disagree with the assertion of basically any part of the City of Chicago having "decent" public schools because of the warping that happens with the extreme emphasis on selective enrollment -
There are now several K-8 neighborhood schools on the North Side with test scores that rival decent suburban schools. A "neighborhood school" is one that doesn't have selective enrollment.

Typically a good suburban elementary school has a "meets or exceeds state standards" percentage in the 90s. Middle schools are typically lower (in the upper 80s), and high schools in "nice" suburbs range from the 70s to the low 90s. Since there are no "middle schools" in the CPS system, you can only look at combined K-8 scores typically. And the number of North Side schools with "meets or exceeds" percentages in the 80s and 90s has greatly increased in recent years. Keep in mind that there is still busing if school enrollment is low in the neighborhood, so even the good schools have a large chunk of kids living in poverty. Taking this into consideration, schools like Nettelhorst (~43% low income with 84% meets or exceeds) and Burley (~43% low income with 91% meets or exceeds) are doing a really wonderful job.

In summary, it is possible to get a good K-8 education in CPS if you live in the right school attendance area. But as Chet mentioned above, high schools can be a real problem. Nearly all of the good high schools in the CPS system are "selective enrollment", which means you must go through an admissions process that includes both testing and affirmative action.

Last edited by Lookout Kid; 05-17-2010 at 12:52 PM..
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Old 05-17-2010, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Chicago: Beverly, Woodlawn
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Is it pretty uniformly accepted by everyone that the quality of a school is directly proportional to its test scores? I feel like if we had this information/perspective when I was a student, I never would have gone where I did. And the equilibrium that existed likely would have fallen apart pretty quickly (I understand that it actually did in the 90s). Why? It was a typical public school -- a bi-modal distribution with top-notch students and teachers in the honors classes with many non-spectacular students in regular classes. Everyone went there because it was the school up the street. Not too much more thought was given to the issue. Having more average and lower achieving students down the hall didn't make me any stupider or less ambitious. If anything the accelerated students bonded.
I have no idea what the school-averaged scores were, but I doubt they could compete with a wealthy suburban public or expensive private school. Our math and chess teams consistently destroyed them, though. Are there any such schools anymore -- Very successful at the high end but overall just a mix of people of every level of ability/achievement?
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