PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Most of Gladstone Park’s public school youngsters are served by Rufus M. Hitch Elementary School, 5625 N. McVicker, the only Chicago Public School located within the boundaries of the neighborhood. However, some students are assigned to other schools outside the community that are closer to where they live. Since greater Jefferson Park (of which Gladstone Park is a part) has over the last 30 years consistently been ranked as one of the four safest neighborhoods in the city, according to a University of Chicago Crime Lab analysis in The Chicago Tribune, most parents are content to allow their children to walk to the local schools.
Hitch serves slightly over 500 pre-K to 8th graders in a classic two-story brick building with limestone trim. The school is named after Rufus McClain Hitch, a prominent Chicago educator who was the district superintendent for 32 city schools in 1909, as documented in the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois (1926) on CPS’ Hitch website. The complex occupies a full city block of 3.6 acres with its southern end reserved for a 200-yard running track, playground and sports fields.
Rufus M. Hitch Elementary School, 5625 N. McVicker serves most public elementary school students in the Gladstone Park community. It has about 500 pre-K to grade 8 students in its classic brick-and-limestone building on a full city block with a running track, sports fields and playground. Photo by author.
Gladstone Park students from a large area in the northwest part of the community go to William J. Onahan Elementary School, 6634 W. Raven, Norwood Park, along with others from the Norwood Park community to the west. Named after an Irish immigrant who went on to become an influential leader in the Chicago Catholic and civic arenas, Onahan serves 675 students in grades pre-K to 8. The brick-and-limestone one-, two-, and three-story complex is on a full city block and includes a track encircling a multi-sport playing field.
Onahan Elementary School, 6634 W. Raven in Norwood Park, serves Gladstone Park students in a large area in the western part of the community. About 675 students in grades pre-K to 8 attend classes in the brick-and-limestone one-, two-, and three-story building. The school complex is on a full city block and includes a track encircling a multi-sport playing field. Photo courtesy of Onahan School.
Pupils at James B. Farnsworth Elementary School, 5414 N. Linder, come from a four-block section of eastern Gladstone Park west of N. Central. They join other Jefferson Park students as well as youngsters from the adjacent Forest Glen community. Farnsworth was named for a principal and school superintendent who went on to found the first high school in Jefferson Township. The elementary school has 570 pupils in grades pre-K to 8. Also on a full city block, the two-story brick-and-limestone complex includes a three-lane track around a soccer field as well as a large playground and multiple raised planting beds.
James B. Farnsworth Elementary School, 5414 N. Linder, in greater Jefferson Park, serves a four-block section of Gladstone Park students just west of N. Central along with Forest Glen youngsters. With 570 pupils in grades pre-K to 8, the classic brick-and-limestone building is on one city block with running track, sports fields, playground and numerous raised planting beds. Photo by author.
All three elementary school buildings attended by Gladstone Park students have grand auditoriums in the old style with soaring ceilings and separate entrances.
PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS
Gladstone Park high schoolers who elect to go to their neighborhood public school attend the 4,100-student William Howard Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr in Norwood Park. Named after the 27th President of the U.S., the school draws from a 15.35 square mile secondary school district. Bordered on the south by parts of the Portage Park and Dunning neighborhoods, on the east by Forest Glen and Edgebrook, it encompasses all of Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, and Edison Park to where it continues west into O’Hare. Fifteen elementary schools from these communities feed into Taft. Since its location is only two blocks from Gladstone Park’s western borders, some local students have the advantage of being able to walk to school.
William Howard Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr, is only two blocks to the west of Gladstone Park’s border with Norwood Park, enabling some local teens to walk to the 4,100-student institution. Fifteen public elementary schools from a 15.35 square mile district that includes Jefferson Park (and its Gladstone Park subcommunity), Norwood Park, Edison Park and O’Hare as well as parts of Portage Park, Dunning, Forest Glen, and Edgebrook feed into the high school. Photo courtesy of Taft High School.
In response to a decades-long overcrowding problem at Taft, CPS spun the school’s 9th graders off into the Taft Freshman Academy. Located about 2-1/2 miles south at 4071 N. Oak Park Avenue in Dunning on a completely separate campus, it opened in 2019. Tenth through 12th graders continue to attend what is now known as the Taft Varsity Campus on Bryn Mawr.
The Taft Academic Center, a unique 6-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme in Chicago, is a big draw for gifted middle school students. This selective enrollment option challenges seventh and eighth graders with an accelerated academic education meeting international standards of excellence before they are seamlessly merged into the high school IB program. Geared to develop the whole student with international mindedness, IB’s interdisciplinary units of study are linked to real-world connectivity through service to the community.
PUBLIC CHOICE SCHOOLS
Since the elementary and high schools Gladstone Park students are assigned to are solid, most parents choose to have their children stay local so that many of them can walk to their neighborhood schools. All three elementaries are in the top quarter to half of Chicago’s K-8 schools. Taft High School is ranked highly by CPS, and U.S. News & World Report puts it in the top quarter of Chicago’s 148 high schools.
However, residents of Gladstone Park who want their children to have a different public school experience should know that assignments are not limited to the schools where they live. See Chicago Public School’s GoCPS site that discusses the options below in more detail.
CPS runs a computerized lottery system that allows both elementary and high school applicants to apply for up to 20 ranked choices of magnet or open enrollment schools, the latter of which includes many neighborhood schools across the area. These schools may include interest areas such as math and science, fine and performing arts, and world languages, and programs such as neighborhood gifted, honors, International Baccalaureate, military, and career education. Testing is not required, but many high school programs have additional admissions requirements that may include grade assessments, essays, auditions, and interviews.
Selective Enrollment Schools
Students can also apply for seats in 28 selective admission elementary schools and 11 high schools with specialized gifted, classical, and Advanced Placement courses. Entrance is awarded to these students based on a complex formula that evaluates test scores (and grades for high school students) as they intersect with socioeconomic factors. Testing is required.
Parents of highly-capable secondary students are well aware that Gladstone Park’s proximity to the top two selective admission high schools in the city – combined with the affordable housing available on the far northwest side of Chicago – puts them in an enviable position. Nearby Northside College Prep and Lane Tech College Prep are two of the best high schools in Chicago and are consistently ranked as two of the top five high schools in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report. Northside, 5501 N. Kedzie in North Park, is only 3.5 miles east from the southern part of the community, while Lane, 2501 W. Addison in Roscoe Village, is 4.7 miles southeast. Either can be reached via CTA buses in under a half hour from the southern part of Gladstone Park.
Students can also apply to some 100 K-8 and 9-12 public charter schools in the city. While none of these are located within the large Taft district, students can vie to attend any of these alternative schools that operate independently from but are supported financially by CPS. Out of a total of 330,000 public school children, some 60,000 of them attended Chicago’s public charter schools in 2022, according to pandemic-adjusted figures used by The Chicago Tribune.
CPS provides bus transportation for students through grade 8 who attend selective enrollments schools and some magnet school programs within a certain distance from the school. Since high schoolers throughout the city are responsible for getting themselves to school – mostly by using reduced student fare buses and “el” passes issued by the Chicago Transit Authority – they are unlimited in distance when they consider alternate choices.
The Archdiocese of Chicago runs a network of 199 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago) and Lake County.
Most Gladstone Park parents who want their elementary school children to have a Catholic faith-based education send them to the St. Elizabeth of the Trinity School, 6040 W. Ardmore. Centered in the community, it is within walking distance for many of its pre-K to grade 8 boys and girls. Formed by the consolidation of three smaller, historic Catholic elementaries in nearby communities (St. Tarcissus, St. Thecla and Pope Francis Global Academy’s North Campus), the facility is on the grounds of what used to be St. Tarcissus. In May, 2021 at the end of its first year as St. Elizabeth, the school had about 200 students according to a Nadig newspaper article on the controversial merger.
St Elizabeth of the Trinity School, 6040 W. Ardmore in the middle of the Gladstone Park community, is the Catholic parochial school for 200 students in grades pre-K through 8. Formed by the controversial merger of three nearby historic Catholic schools (St. Tarcissus, St. Thecla and Pope Francis Global Academy’s North Campus), it completed its first year as St. Elizabeth in 2021 in the old St. Tarcissus building. Photo by author.
Other nearby Catholic elementary schools include St. Mary of the Woods, 7033 N. Moselle, just north in the Edgebrook neighborhood; St. Constance School, 5841 Strong Street, south in the greater Jefferson Park neighborhood; and Queen of All Saints, 6230 N. Lemont about 1-1/2 miles northeast in Sauganash. CPS does not supply bus transportation to parochial school students, but there are private school bus services some parents contract with to get their children to these schools.
There are three Catholic high schools within five miles of Gladstone Park. Resurrection College Prep, 7500 W. Talcott, an all-girls Catholic high school, is the closest at 2 miles west in adjacent Norwood Park. A popular choice for girls in the neighborhood who want a Catholic education, it was founded in 1922 and serves about 450 students from over 100 private and public elementary schools in the Chicago area.
The all-girls Resurrection College Prep, 7500 W. Talcott, is the closest Catholic secondary school to Gladstone Park, about two miles west in the Norwood Park neighborhood. Originally established by Sisters of the Resurrection, it was transferred to Christian Brothers of the Midwest of the Lasallian order in 2020. About 450 students from over 100 different private and public elementary schools are enrolled there. Photo courtesy of Journal & Topics Media Group serving Chicago’s northwest suburbs, March 15, 2022.
Catholic boys from Gladstone Park who want an all-male faith-based secondary school education often consider the two choices closest to them: St. Patrick High School. 5900 W. Belmont and Notre Dame College Prep, 7655 W. Dempster in nearby Niles. St. Patrick, one of the oldest continually-operating Catholic high schools in the city with a founding date of 1861, is about 3-1/2 miles south in the Belmont Craigin neighborhood. Notre Dame, one of the first Catholic high schools to locate to the Chicago suburbs, opened in 1955. It is about 4 miles north of the Gladstone Park/Chicago border in Niles.
The closest Catholic coed high school is DePaul College Prep, 3300 N. Campbell, which has an academic partnership with DePaul University. In 2020 in response to a growing enrollment, it relocated to a new 17-acre campus about six miles southeast of the Gladstone Park community.
St. John’s Lutheran School, 4939 W. Montrose serves about 150 pre-K to 8th grade students desiring a Missouri Synod Lutheran faith-based education. Founded in 1876, it is about 2 miles south in Portage Park.
St. John’s Lutheran Church and School, 4939 W. Montrose. The school, about 2 miles south in Portage Park, serves pre-K to 8th graders who want a Missouri Synod Lutheran faith-based education. Photo courtesy of St. John’s.
There are no private elementary or high schools in Gladstone Park. However, there are a number of day cares/preschools and independent trade schools in the community, only some of which are depicted below. All photos are by the author.
North Star Learning Center
Fantasy Island School for Kids
Chicago School of Woodworking
CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARIES
One of the best things about having a Chicago address is the free Chicago Public Library (CPL) card that comes with it. Its holder is welcome to walk into any of 81 different buildings anchoring all 77 city neighborhoods and have access to the riches of the fifth largest public library system in the United States.
A standout in information resources, the Chicago Public Library is consistently ranked in the top ten for large public library systems nationwide. A more recent evaluation by The Storage Space on CubeSmart put CPL ninth best for “advancing culture and knowledge” while “reflecting the heart and soul of the city” through initiatives such as its lecture series and free homework help. The Windy City’s libraries were also nationally recognized in 2019 as the largest public library system in the country to make the radical move to eliminate fines for overdue items. In expanding Chicago’s mission as a Sanctuary City, CPL established “Book Sanctuaries” across the city’s 77 distinct community areas in September, 2022 to guarantee its citizens access to books that had been banned or challenged in other areas of the state or country.
To view rare historical and cultural archival collections as well as to use special equipment such as 3-D printers, Chicagoans head to CPL’s central facility, the Harold Washington Library Center at 400 S. State Street. Built in 1991, the ten-story postmodern structure features a so-Chicago classical façade of stone medallions with barn owl ornamentation. At first derided as a mishmash of styles, the building’s architectural beauty is now widely admired. Indeed, curbed.com recently ranked the Harold Washington 12th in the U.S. for its stunning design, not the least of which is its top floor Winter Garden with spectacular glass walls throwing natural light on its contemplating patrons.
The Harold Washington Library Center at 400 S. State Street downtown. Built in 1991 as CPL’s new central facility, the postmodern building’s architecture combines old world as well as contemporary touches. Once widely criticized, the building is widely recognized today for its beauty and functionality. Harold Washington holds extensive map, microfilm, and other specialized collections unavailable elsewhere. Photo courtesy of Chicago Public Library.
Three regional libraries (Henry E. Legler, 115 S. Pulaski; Carter G. Woodson, 9525 S. Halsted; and Conrad Sulzer, 4455 N. Lincoln) hold targeted collections for different areas of the city. Legler, the system’s first regional library, is in a historical landmarked building serving the West and East Garfield Park neighborhoods. It was named after Legler in honor of his ground-breaking efforts to promote the expansion of CPL offerings to peoples in all neighborhoods through branch libraries, according to the Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Woodson, opened in 1975 and expanded in 1998, serves the Washington Heights and South Side neighborhoods with the largest collection of African American history and literature in the Midwest. Sulzer, the newest regional at 4455 N. Lincoln, opened in 1985 to serve the Lincoln Square and North Side neighborhoods. It holds a special Northside Neighborhood History Collection.
As Chicagoans, residents of Gladstone Park can patronize any of the 81 libraries in the Chicago Public Library system, but most Gladstonians go to the Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence, in the larger Jefferson Park neighborhood to the south of their community. The library also draws residents from nearby sections of Portage Park, Forest Glen, and Norwood Park. Dating back to 1904, the Jefferson Park branch had been housed in nearly a dozen different locations before taking up permanent residency at its current location in the commercial center of the neighborhood in 1970. Because the 50-year-old building needed such an extensive renovation in 2019, it was temporarily closed for nearly a year before reopening in 2020.
Befitting the community, the Jeff Park Library offers a specialized collection of Polish language magazines, newspapers and books (check out Harry Potter i kamień filozoficzny) along with regular story time hours, access to computers/WiFi and homework help programs.
Chicago Public Library–Jefferson Park Branch, 5363 W. Lawrence, in the heart of Jefferson Park’s commercial district, serves the greater Jefferson Park neighborhood which includes Gladstone Park. The recently renovated building hosts a special collection of Polish language periodicals and books for the large population of immigrants from Poland who live in the immediate area. Photo courtesy of Chicago Public Library through its branch locational page.
Some Gladstonians who live on the community’s northern border with Edgebrook frequent the Edgebrook Public Library at 5331 W. Devon. For some patrons, this location is slightly more than a half mile walk across Metro North’s railroad tracks just north of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The two-story structure opened in 2000.
Chicago Public Library–Edgebrook Branch, 5331 W. Devon, is in the heart of Edgebrook’s commercial district to Gladstone Park’s north across the Metro North Railroad tracks and the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Many Gladstonians living adjacent to the Edgebrook neighborhood started frequenting this branch after it opened in 2000. Photo courtesy of Chicago Public Library through its branch locational page.
In July, 2021 Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city would be adding Sunday afternoon hours at all Chicago Public Library buildings by the end of the year, making all the facilities in the system accessible to everyone on a daily basis regardless of their work or religious obligations.
To foster a love for books and all things reading, Gladstone Park residents have erected five Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood. These grassroots efforts to support the “take a book, leave a book” movement are pictured with locations given in the Little Free Libraries, Folk & Yard Art section.
Chicagoans who can afford to further empower the city’s public library donate to the nonprofit Chicago Library Foundation, which partners with CPL to “drive equitable access to learning, creativity, and digital literacy resources.”
CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS
Gladstonians attend many churches and religious buildings of different denominations just outside the borders of the community in Edgebrook, Norwood Park, Edison Park, Portage Park, Old Irving Park, and north and west into the suburbs.
But for those who want to stay local there are four religious buildings within the boundaries of Gladstone Park. Reflecting the growing diversity of the community, three of these are of different denominations than those that originally constructed the buildings. The fourth is the result of a consolidation with an entirely new name. All photos are by the author.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Church, 6020 W. Ardmore, originally opened as a wood-framed combination worship center/school building in 1926 to meet the growing needs of Polish Catholics on the Far Northwest side of Chicago. It was called St. Tarcissus. As the congregation expanded over the decades, the need for an entirely new complex with rectory and school was felt. The present sanctuary, of modern design with classical and Georgian lines, opened in 1954 and seats 1,100. Renamed St. Elizabeth of the Trinity in 2020 as part of a controversial “Renew My Church” merger of three parishes and schools in response to declining attendance and numbers of priests, the new parish still recognizes St. Tarcissus as its patron saint.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Roman Catholic Church
Chicago Mosque, 6201 W. Peterson, opened for Muslims in what had been the former Faith Lutheran church building in 2015. The Mosque’s original membership was made up of about 30 families who immigrated to the U.S. from Morocco 20 to 30 years ago, according to a July 28, 2016 Nadig Newspaper article.
Lion’s Heart Christian Ministries House of Prayer, 5821 N. Nagle, is an evangelical Christian church founded in Chicago in 1996. After meeting in a variety of leased quarters, it established its international headquarters in 2004 at the N. Nagle worship center, built in 1955. Lion’s Heart runs extensive missions to the Philippines.
Lion’s Heart Christian Ministries (House of Prayer)
Gladstone Park saw its newest congregation, Chicago Yemsrach Evangelical Church, 5850 N. Elston, move into the community in 2022. With developers proposing to tear down the steep gable-roofed, stained glass Elston Avenue United Methodist Church to build apartments, the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association was happy to encourage the interest of the Ethiopian Christian congregation to buy and preserve the 1958 building for faith-based purposes.
Chicago Yemsrach Evangelical Church
There are at least three fraternal organizations in Gladstone Park with physical buildings representing sports clubs, religious societies, and nations of the world. All photos are by author.
American Athletic Club of Chicago (A.A.C. Eagles, Klub Sportowy Orly), 5844 N. Milwaukee, has played an important role in the city’s Polish community since it was founded in 1940 as one of the best amateur soccer clubs in the county. The Eagles currently play in Region II of the Metropolitan Soccer League of the United States Adult Soccer Association. It takes its role in developing talent very seriously with over 100 children in its youth soccer program. A social club supports the team’s efforts through the use of the building’s banquet hall and clubhouse where special events are held.
American Athletic Club of Chicago Eagles (Klub Sportowy Orly)
Kolping Center of the Kolping Society of Chicago, 5826 N. Elston, is an international Roman Catholic Aid Society with 11 U.S. locations and branches in over 30 countries. Founded by German priest Adolph Kolping in Cologne in 1850 as an action-oriented organization providing job training, education, and housing when such initiatives were rare, it spread around the world in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to help German immigrants acclimate to their new surroundings. The Kolping’s Chicago headquarters building in Gladstone Park contains meeting rooms and offices. In recent years the Kolping Center has expanded its mission in the local area by opening up its facilities to community groups. It is now the meeting place of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association.
Kolping Center of Kolping Society of Chicago (Roman Catholic Social Aid)
Serbian National Defense Council of America, 5782 N. Elston, was established in the U.S. in 1914 for the purposes of raising money and recruiting American Serb volunteers to aid fighting on the Balkan front during World War I. It grew to 83 branches and, in 1941, relocated its national headquarters to Chicago. The organization continues to promote Serbian interests and the Serbian Orthodox church both in this country and abroad.
Serbian National Defense Council of America
Brotherhood of Achladokambiton Saint Demetrios, Chicago, 5424 N. Milwaukee, was founded in 1905 by immigrants from the Achladokambos region of Greece. Its express purpose was to form a social club that made it possible for its Greek-American members to keep in touch with each other through its Windy City headquarters. Dun & Bradstreet has considered it to be a labor organization since 2001.