Regular meetings are scheduled on the second Thursday or every month.  Please call or email us for time and location info.

 


Austin - The largest neighborhood in Chicago

Austin is the largest community in the city of Chicago both by geographic size and population.  It is a neighborhood which begins six miles due west of the Loop and forms the western city limits on its borders with Cicero, Oak Park, and Elmwood Park

 

European settlers were in this once-marshy area since the 1830s, and the excellent access to transportation which Austin enjoys today began early in its history.  In 1848 the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad (later the Chicago and North Western) sited a station by its tracks near Lake Street.  After the Civil War, the Milwaukee Road cut through the northern boundary of the area and the predecessor company to today's CTA Green Line laid tracks to Austin just in time to take residents to the Columbian Exposition of 1893.  By 1900 the population of Austin grew to 4,000.

 

Austin takes its name from Henry W. Austin, a local real estate developer who before the turn of the 20th century saw great opportunity in its location and purchased 470 acres for a temperance settlement named “Austinville” (Chicago Avenue to Madison Street, and Laramie to Austin Boulevard). Austin's intentions for the settlement were: home ownership, public amenities such as tree-lined parkways, and gracious living.  By 1874 the village had approximately 1,000 residents, largely due to improved suburban railroad service.  With over 4,000 residents by the 1890s, Austin was the largest settlement in Cicero township until it was annexed by Chicago just before 1900.  Austin, however strived to retain much of its independent spirit--a strong illustration of this spirit was the 1929 construction of Austin Town Hall, modeled on Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

 

The mansions built during the turn of the 19th to 20th century which grace Austin Village, the western part of central Austin, are proudly displayed today in an annual housewalk.  Other parts of Austin are blessed with solid single-family and multifamily housing stock with strong architectural values.

 

Early in its history Austin attracted upwardly mobile Germans and Scandinavians, followed by Irish and Italian families.  These immigrant-based groups built the community's mid-twentieth-century landmarks: a half-dozen sizable Roman Catholic parishes, which educated thousands of children each year and provided the social base for much of the community.  By the 1930s Greek migrants had arrived in south Austin, building their own landmark, the Byzantine-style Assumption church.  Austin had 130,000 residents by 1930.

 

Austin's crown jewel was Columbus Park (1920).  Designed in a prairie mode by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, the park featured a lagoon, a golf course, athletic fields and a swimming pool, as well as winding paths and an imposing refectory overlooking the lagoon.  The park was extensively restored in 1992 after expressway construction marred much of its original splendor.

 

Today Austin is facing the challenges of too-rapid socioeconomic change from the previous generation with action by new community groups such as the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Austin Development Association, who are renewing this area through planning and careful investment of resources.  The last decade in particular has seen many rehabbed buildings and revitalized businesses take their place in the neighborhood.  with this increased investment and its strategic location as a transportation gateway between the Loop and the suburbs, observers agree that Austin is already on tis way back.


Quick Facts - Austin

Latitude
Longitude
41°54′N, 87°45.6′W

ZIP Codes 60644 and parts of 60635, 60639, 60651, 60707

Area 18.54 km² (7.16 mi²)
Population (2000)
Density

117,527 (up 3.2% from 1990)
6,337.6 /km²

Demographics White
Black
Hispanic
Asian
Other

4.82%
89.7%
4.12%
0.55%
0.86%

Median income $33,663

Our members provide high-quality affordable housing throughout the Austin community and are resolved to improving the quality of life in the largest and 'BEST' community in Chicago.  For membership info, please click the Contact Us link above.

 

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