I moved to Andersonville shortly before my oldest child was born. My husband and I were previously living in a one-bedroom condo in Bucktown, and we knew we wanted to start a family. Andersonville was appealing because of the easy access to the lake and parks, quiet streets with lots of trees, historic architecture, low crime, a diverse community and walkability to many shops and restaurants. Housing can be expensive in Andersonville, especially now. The single-family homes in the Lakewood/Balmoral historic district usually run over a million. However, for those open to condo living, there are plenty of options in the neighborhood.
Andersonville feels like a small town within a big city. There are a lot of young families in the neighborhood. Many of the businesses along Clark Street have been around for many years, and there are less chains compared to other neighborhoods (let’s hope it stays that way!). People say hello or good morning when passing by on the sidewalk. Andersonville is known for its Swedish heritage, but nowadays Andersonville is celebrated for its acceptance of LGBTQ families, the Hispanic/Latinx community, and the Asian and African communities in neighboring Uptown and Edgewater.
After five years, we are now a family of four. I am so grateful we decided to start a family in Andersonville. Here’s why.
The most prominent park in the area is the lakeshore. Most families congregate on Foster Beach on hot summer days or take bike rides along the bike path. There are many playgrounds in the area and each one is special in its own way.
[Related: Family neighborhood guide to Logan Square]
The local neighborhood primary school serving most Andersonville families is Peirce School of International Studies, which is an authorized International Baccalaureate World School. The local high school, Nicholas Senn High School, is also an IB school. For families interested in private education, there are many options to choose from: Rogers Park Montessori School, Chicago Waldorf School, Chicago Friends School, St. Thomas of Canterbury School, Northside Catholic Academy and Sacred Heart Schools are all located in the area.
The racial makeup of Andersonville is predominately white. There is also a sizable Hispanic/Latinx community, and the local public schools are very diverse. The Andersonville business community is supportive of social justice issues and the local public schools.
Restaurants & Sweets
Andersonville is not known for fine dining or cutting-edge restaurants but there are some good options, especially for kids. The Israeli restaurant Fiya has a large indoor and outdoor space and offers something for children and adults. My kids love their Challah French Toast. Parson’s Chicken and Fish recently opened a location on Clark Street with a very large patio. Calo Ristorante is an Andersonville institution and serves solid Italian American cuisine. A summertime favorite is George’s Ice Cream & Sweets. Our family likes to go late in the afternoon and then take our ice cream to the Andersonville Playlot around the corner on Ashland and Farragut. For amazing birthday cakes and Mexican bakery goods head to LaBaguette Panaderia. For grocery shopping, there is a Jewel Osco on Clark and Bryn Mawr and across the street is Edgewater Produce, which provides fresh and affordable produce and Mexican staples.
[Related: Family neighborhood guide to Old Irving Park]
Arts, Culture, & Other Fun Stuff
The feminist bookstore, Women & Children First, has been in Andersonville since 1990. It has a large selection of children’s books and pre-COVID, they hosted a story time every Wednesday morning. The Swedish American Museum on Clark Street contains a Children’s Museum of Immigration (currently closed due to COVID-19). To celebrate Andersonville’s Swedish roots, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce hosts a Midsommarfest in mid-June. There's also a family pride parade in June, as well.
I always felt that Andersonville was the perfect mix of city living in a family-friendly environment. From toddlers to hipsters to the LGBTQ community to Black Lives Matter supporters, everyone has a place in Andersonville.