Ever-Changing Polish Triangle
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering Pulaski Park, use this West Town neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Chicago's
Pulaski Park is a hot area with condos for sale, duplexes for sale and single family homes for sale.
A small neighborhood with split personalities: There's the quiet, tucked away residential blocks of the Pulaski Park area (though quiet is a relative term given this IS the city and the highway hums alongside these homes). Conversely, there is the Polish Triangle area, the bustling crossing zone of Ashland Avenue, Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue. Young professionals, cab drivers, the pigeons... they all pass through here daily.
This is ground zero for West Town. Chicago's Pulaski Park neighborhood is the tiny northeastern pocket of West Town that borders Wicker Park, East Village and Noble Square. Tucked into the edges of the Kennedy Expressway, which forms its eastern border, Pulaski Park's main commercial strips are Ashland Avenue and Division Street.
No need for a car here in Pulaski Park. The Division station of the Blue Line 'L' Train is the central hub for most all residents. Downtown commutes and travels to O'Hare International Airport are steps away down the subway. Travel by CTA bus is busy on lines #9 Ashland, #56 Milwaukee and #70 Division. As mentioned, the Kennedy Expressway is a prominent feature of the neighborhood and access is easy. Bicyclists also make use of bike paths (and convenient Divvy stations) direct to downtown.
Residents here live at the intersection of big-city grit and hipsterdom. At the same time, remnants of the past endure — undisturbed and unassuming at the same time. It's a study in transition as the residential, commercial and cultural makeup of Pulaski Park continues to shift and evolve.
Take for example the Polish Triangle, the patch of pavement that forms a triangular plaza where Milwaukee Avenue meets Division Street and Ashland Avenue. This official name designation pays homage to the extensive contribution of Polish immigrants to Chicago's early development. From building churches, hospitals and residential communities; to establishing businesses, schools and newspapers; to creating arts, culture and entertainment hubs -- these early settlers were crucial in the foundation of Chicago. At the center of the Polish Triangle, the Nelson Algren Fountain is another nod to Chicago's past as it honors the late author who lived in the area for 35 years and explored the underside of inner city America through his writings.
Across the way, the faded sign for Podhalanka marks the entrance to the area's one remaining Polish restaurant. One storefront over, Chopin Theatre is a former nickelodeon (built in 1918) that Polish immigrant Zygmunt Dyrkacz rescued from abandonment and transformed into a beloved performance center (founded in 1990). The historic space hosts over 500 events each year, from interviews of leading Polish figures to international film screenings to local Chicago theater productions.
Once a thriving district known as Polish Downtown, the landscape is now a curious mismash that caters to the ever-changing demographics. Juggling between low income budgets and hipster tastes, there's both a pawn shop and cheap mini mart alongside a funky 4-am dance club and fancy food truck. More evidence over the years: an Aldo replaced a Payless, a worn-out Kmart became a bright new Lowe's, and a shiny modern apartment tower (complete with an Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea) took over the space of a tired Pizza Hut. This neighborhood rolls with the changes.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
Yes there is a plethora of food and nightlife options in the surrounding area but Pulaski Park has a few gems:
Podhalanka: Stuck in time, this Polish mainstay looks like someone's grandmother's dining room inside, but they are serious about their pierogi
Mott Street: Foodies around town have been singing the praises of this kitchen team and their menu of globally-inspired comfort food
evilOlive: Does Porn and Chicken have you intrigued? It's one of the standing parties at this late-night hangout for the young and dance craved
The Doorstep: A food truck with serious culinary cred is now stationed year-round at Polish Triangle... your commute will never be the same
Seadog Sushi Bar: Maki and Temaki are the real deal here — Michelin Guide says so! This sleek option has been recommended four years in a row (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Anchoring the Area
All Polish ties in Chicago have some connection to one very visible Pulaski Park landmark. The first Polish parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, St. Stanislaus Kostka, was founded in 1867 and would come to be considered the “mother church” of Polonia, guiding as many as 40,000 parishioners at one time. Even for those who have never stepped inside, the church is a familiar sight to many who drive along the Kennedy Expressway. The path of the highway was in fact altered to spare the church, which is why it hugs its eastern edge so closely. Like most old Polish churches, St. Stan's (as it's called by locals) has welcomed a diverse congregation and mass can be heard in English, Polish and Spanish today.
The neighborhood name is drawn from the 3.8-acre Pulaski Park, situated across from St. Stan's and nestled among a cozy residential zone north of Polish Triangle. The outdoor pool is the biggest draw each summer season, but the historic field house is eye catching as well. Constructed in 1914, it's design was meant to emulate Eastern European architecture familiar to the immigrant community. The park pays tribute to Casimir Pulaski (c. 1748-1779), a Polish war hero who fought and died for the American cause in the Revolutionary War.
Back on the main square, the Polish National Alliance Building shows that's what old is new again. A historic Chicago landmark, this hulking Art Deco-style limestone building was completed in 1938 and served as the headquarters of the largest Polish-American fraternal organization in the US: the Polish National Alliance (PNA), also known as the Zwiazek Narodowy Polski. Today it serves as the home base for Studio Gang, the internationally-known architecture firm headed up by MacArthur "Genius Grant" fellow Jeanne Gang.
Locals Who Live Here
Surrounding Pulaski Park are condos for sale and townhouses for sale. Buying a home in West Town, particularly Pulaski Park, means big-city living with perks like convenient public transportation and also walkability. This area scores high with young professionals looking to purchase a home near Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village but not wanting to pay the higher premium. Parents and couples looking for West Town single family homes for sale will find the park a major plus.