It's often said that "Chicago is a city of neighborhoods." This may seem redundant—isn't every city a city of neighborhoods?—but Chicago really is a big, wonderful amalgamation of unique enclaves. Where do the names for all these neighborhoods come from? We sought to find out.
Keep in mind that there are at least 200 neighborhoods in Chicago. While this list is extensive, it isn't absolute. For example, some areas were left off because they were obvious extensions of other neighborhoods (hello, West Rogers Park), while others lacked reliable info (or any information at all). If you don't see your neighborhood below, please write your alderman, who will then negotiate with us and we'll hash out an under-the-table deal.
After the Chicago Fire, many of the city's Swedes moved to this area on the North Side to rebuild their lives. It's believed that the neighborhood is named after Reverend Paul Andersen Norland, who was integral in attracting folks to join the community during its early years (neighborhood's pros: not engulfed in flames).
Named for Henry W. Austin, the real estate mogul who acquired and subdivided the land in 1866. The area was originally in the township of Cicero. Austin held the most power in that municipality, and its politicians brought major roads and elevated trains to the neighborhood. The other Cicero citizens objected and voted to expel Austin and have it annexed into Chicago.
Un-fun fact about Henry W. Austin: He was an ardent temperance advocate and worked to ban all saloons and liquor sales within his community.
This neighborhood was originally named "Pennytown" for Penny, a local general store owner who sold popcorn balls. The area's Avalon Park Community Church lobbied to have the name changed, and Pennytown—and Penny's popcorn balls—are no more.
This area was a fur trading outpost named "Hardscrabble" for years until it officially became the town of Bridgeport in 1836. Some insist that it's named after a bridge that spanned a canal on or near Ashland Avenue. There are no records of this bridge ever existing, however, leaving some to doubt this explanation.
Illinois Central Railroad built a station in the area and named it after Civil War General Ambrose Burnside (who also worked as the railroad's treasurer). Colonel W.W. Jacobs subdivided the neighborhood in 1887 and named it after the station.
Cook County originally purchased this property in 1851 to build a "poor farm," insane asylum, and tuberculosis hospital. After the Civil War, a man named Andrew Dunning bought a tract of land to the south of this area to plant a nursery. In 1888, the hospital and asylum were bought by the city after they found gross mismanagement. The entire area, including Dunning's plot, soon took his name as redevelopment began.
EAST GARFIELD PARK
The park that this neighborhood is named after was originally called "Central Park" when it was built in 1869. After President James A. Garfield's assassination in 1881, the city changed that, and the area to the east developed into East Garfield Park.
The "brook" that this area edges is actually the North Branch of the Chicago River. Edgebrook was plotted in 1894 to be a golf course-adjacent suburb. The course remains, although the suburb has long since been absorbed by Chicago.
Etiquette states that you should wait for someone to die before you name your town after them, but in 1890, the citizens of Edison Park eschewed manners and named their village after the very-much-alive inventor. Given that nobody loved Thomas Edison more than Thomas Edison, he gladly gave the township his blessing.
Fernwood Village was founded by Dutch farmers and they named it after the surrounding woodland. (You see, it was full of ferns.) The village was annexed into Chicago in 1891.
Named after Melville Fuller, a Chicagoan and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1888 to 1910.
South Park Commissioner George W. Gage died in office in 1875 while developing this park. The city soon honored his memory by naming it after him, and the surrounding neighborhood eventually followed suit.
A section of 55th Street, which runs through the neighborhood, was renamed Garfield Boulevard to honor President Garfield after his assassination.
Named after British Prime Minister William Gladstone. Gladstone served in the office a record four separate times which, in Chicago, is considered short-term.
This North Side area along Lake Michigan was originally called "The Astor Street District," taking the name of John Jacob Astor. Astor didn't actually live in Chicago, but the residents so desperately wanted to project an air of wealth that they used his name anyway. It worked, and when a section of Lake Shore Drive opened in 1875, rich families began building homes in the neighborhood. The community officially became known as the "Gold Coast" at the turn of the century.
Goose Island is an actual island located in the North Branch of the Chicago River. It was created when William Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, built an auxiliary canal to facilitate shipping routes. The name "Goose Island" comes from a separate, smaller island in the river, but the name was soon attached to the man-made land mass when Irish squatters moved from the old island to the new one. The term comes from the abundant geese they hunted.
This area has its roots in a railroad company dispute, or "frog war." Both Illinois Central and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroads laid claim to the real estate. Roswell B. Mason, a future Chicago mayor and executive for Illinois Central Railroad, secretly put tracks over some of Lake Shore & Michigan Southern's rails using an illegal connector. In 1853, two trains crashed, killing eight and injuring 40. During the aftermath, real estate developer Paul Cornell came in and used the site of the deadly intersection to build a new suburb.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago nurtures young artists, bringing them up through Jazz Links and introducing them to audiences at JazzCity and Millennium Park and the Chicago Jazz Festival. We provide a real-life training ground for students to learn skills required to become professional musicians, offer internships at the Jazz Institute and continue to support their careers as they become working musicians and full members of the community. We also provide professional development for music teachers who want to incorporate more jazz into their schools music curriculum.
At the monthly Jazz Links Jam Sessions students have the opportunity to perform with world-class professionals in the Jazz Links house band. Hosted in partnership with the Chicago Cultural Center, the jam sessions are a chance for everyone to witness the development of young talent right before their eyes and ears.
How does it work? When students arrive, they will fill out a jam session info sheet, where they will list the 3-5 tunes that they can play. The Jam Session host Zakiya Powell will call up groups of students to perform and improvise tunes together in front of an enthusiastic live audience. What should I bring? Students should bring their instruments and a list of jazz tunes they have learned and can improvise over. Note: Vocal microphone, drum set, double bass, bass amp, upright piano, and a guitar amp will be provided for each session. Who can attend the Jazz Links Jam Sessions? Musicians, parents, students, siblings, friends...! All are welcome and encouraged to attend these free events!