Located three miles from the Loop on Chicago’s south side, Armour Square is a happy medium between a popular tourist location, residential hot spot and culturally authentic experience. While many tourists make their way to the area for a White Sox game or to check out the tight-knit cultural areas, many young professionals and families call this diverse neighborhood home. Welcome to Armour Square.
According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Armour Square was originally known as a working-class area, where German, Irish and Swedish residents put down roots during the Civil War. After the Chicago Fire in 1871, brick and stone became the required building material for homes, making them more expensive. Those who couldn’t afford these homes found their way to Armour Square, which was outside of the centralized area where brick was the required building material.
At the turn of the century, Chinese immigrants in Chicago began experiencing severe racism, and many living in the downtown area made their way south to Armour Square. During World War I, the Black community moved into the south side of the neighborhood, and the population continued to expand when Wentworth Gardens was constructed by the Chicago Housing Authority.
Following this uptick in population, the Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways were constructed along the eastern border of the neighborhood, which led to both demolished homes and a declining population.
Chinese investment has benefitted the area greatly in recent decades, with the development of Chinatown Square and several apartment buildings, restaurants and local shops. That, plus the proximity of Guaranteed Rate Field and nearby McCormick Place, has contributed to the area’s energy and continued development.
In 2021, home sales in Armour Square grew 93.8% compared to 2020, some of the highest sales growth in the city, just behind the Loop. According to Paul Mancini, @properties | Christie’s International Real Estate, a 2020 neighborhood top producer for Armour Square, developers see the potential in the neighborhood, and residential and commercial developments are popping up quickly to accommodate demand.
There are two main neighborhood attractions that draw everyone from residents to tourists: Guaranteed Rate Field and Chinatown.
The White Sox have called Armour Square home since their arrival in 1900, first at Comiskey Park, then at a state-of-the-art field that today is known as Guaranteed Rate Field. No other sports team has played in the same neighborhood longer than the White Sox.
Right across the street from Guaranteed Rate Field is Armour Square Park, which has been open for almost 100 years and provides green space for residents with baseball fields, swimming pools, playgrounds, tennis courts and more.
According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Chinatown is home to one-third of Chicago’s Chinese population, welcoming residents and visitors at the intersection of Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue with a set of gates emblazoned with the phrase “The World is For All.” Here, you’ll find traditional Chinese architecture, shrines, gardens, zodiac statues, grocery stores, teahouses and over 30 restaurants, like Golden Bull, Phoenix, Original Triple Crown and Daguan Noodle. There are also many landmarks honoring Chinese culture, such as the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, Ping Tom Memorial Park (home to several gorgeous murals!) and Pui Tak Center.
Mancini touted the neighborhood as an up-and-coming place to go for food, drinks, coffee and more. “There’s more to do there than there was 10 years ago,” he said. Beyond Chinese and other Asian food, you can find Italian at places like Franco’s Ristorante, stop in for a drink and bar food at Turtle’s Bar & Grill, get traditional Chicago eats at Ferro’s or grab a hot dog at 35th Street Red Hots.
The available transportation options are a big draw. Not only is Armour Square just a few miles south of the Loop, but it is exceptionally accessible via public transportation. Both the Red and Orange Lines make their way through Armour Square with direct access downtown, as does the Metra Rock Island line, which stops at the 35th Street station.
If you’re looking to visit or get out to the suburbs, Armour Square has you covered, as well. Both the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways cut through the neighborhood, making it easy to get to wherever you need to go.
According to Mancini, many Chicagoans were compelled to move to Armour Square during the COVID-19 pandemic when the need to live close to work diminished. The neighborhood still gives residents the ability to get downtown as needed without having to live there. Those who moved there found themselves in a demographically diverse neighborhood where “neighbors wave to each other,” Mancini said.
The abundance of property types is also a draw, with everything from single-family homes to townhomes. Additionally, condo buildings are becoming more prevalent. “Developers understand that there are lots for sale, and if they build a quality product, they can sell them quickly,” Mancini said.
Although we are seeing an inventory strain citywide, the same can’t be said for Armour Square. As of March 2022, new listings for all properties was up 60.0%, with a median sales price of attached homes of $319,000, which is slightly lower than the citywide median. As for detached homes, both inventory and median sales price remain steady compared to this time last year.