GLADSTONE PARK: IT’S DIFFERENT

SMALL TOWN OASIS IN AN URBAN LANDSCAPE

Why do people move to Gladstone Park and stay for generations?

Once residents settle in, they find that this little community is ferociously different from any other Chicago neighborhood they’ve ever lived in. How do they love where they live? As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in her sonnet, “Let [us] count the ways.” Gladstone Park surprises with its:

  • bucolic small town feel with easy access to first-class Chicago entertainment, culture, sports, medical services, restaurants, transportation, parks, libraries, and other resources,
  • sturdy historic brick housing stock, mostly modest and comparatively affordable by city standards,
  • abundant two/four flat and apartment rentals at reasonable market rates,
  • low-rise, spread-out landscape with almost no buildings above 3 stories,
  • low-density development with a lack of traffic and parking woes,
  • locally-owned commercial properties with few chain restaurants or stores,
  • safe atmosphere with consistently low crime rates,
  • access to Cook County Forest Preserves parkland along its entire northern border,
  • attractive leafy streets with well-maintained properties,
  • neighbors with strong middle class values who care about each other and prove it daily, and
  • strong local schools and community organizations.

Looking at the list, one can directly peg virtually every positive aspect of Gladstone Park to its low-rise, spread-out landscape. With fewer people per square mile, the conditions that make day-to-day life easier and more pleasurable naturally follow.

Hot-Chocolate-at-Chopin-Park-Tree-Lighting-2021

Gladstone Park is indeed a small town oasis in an urban landscape. Residents who move here almost immediately notice the neighborhood is different from anywhere else in Chicago, at least partly because it’s 10-11 miles from the center city. Here the community is celebrating the 2021 coming of Christmas in Chopin Plaza with a tree lighting ceremony, hot chocolate, carols, and Santa Claus. The park is named after Polish composer Frédéric François Chopin to honor the many Poles who originally settled in the community as well as its second and third generations who keep the Polish culture and language in Gladstone Park very much alive. More recently, diversification has come from a vibrant Hispanic community that now constitutes about one-quarter of its population. Gladstone Park’s low-rise, spread-out landscape bordered by parkland is the constant that provides for a safe, easy-going, caring community for all, free from traffic woes and parking problems. Photo from Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association’s Facebook Page.

Imagine living where you don’t have to fumble with a credit card to pay for parking every time you go out to pick up a pizza or buy a bar of soap. Where you drive on wide, two-way streets and can find a parking spot for your car in front of your house without having to deal with permits. Where you can feel safe hiking, running, or birding in the nearby Forest Preserves. Where your neighbors show pride in home ownership in well-kept historic bungalows, English Tudors, and Dutch Colonials set off by neatly trimmed lawns and leafy parkway trees. Where residents constantly show they care whether they’re volunteering at food pantries or shoveling snow off their neighbors’ sidewalks without being asked.

This website has used catchphrases for the community such as “Gladstone Park: Hidden Gem of Northwest Chicago,” “Gladstone Park: It’s Different Here,” and “Gladstone Park: Small Town Oasis in an Urban Landscape.” Perhaps it could also explore whether it can use the new “Chicago Not in Chicago” slogan the ad agency Energy BBDO came up with for a new tourism marketing campaign that was so wildly pilloried as negative and confusing for the whole city, as described in the January 29, 2022 The Chicago Tribune. Doesn’t tweaking the rallying cry to “Gladstone Park: In Chicago, Not Chicago” give real meaning to the community by locating it within a city it loves without letting its urbanity totally define it.

Not that everything’s hunky-dory. Gladstone Park has its own share of problems that range from vacant storefronts in a business district sadly in need of beautification to a perceived lack of control over the community’s destiny when it comes to dealing with city politics and red tape. Fortuitously, the nascent Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association is providing the conduit for residents to stand up together to identify what the community’s all about in order to determine what it wants to be.