Roscoe Village came into being as a neighborhood near the end of the 19th century. City developers purchased the land west of Western Ave to build what was to be the “World’s Largest Amusement Park”. The aptly named Riverview Park opened for business in 1903. Many businesses began to spring up along Belmont Avenue, Roscoe Street, and Western Ave in order to support the influx of visitors and tourists, and some of the park workers bought property in the neighborhood to build homes.
1920 brought a huge economic boom for the area, when many of the greenhouses that had been built were torn down to build new homes, mostly two-flats and frame houses. Many of the residents that moved into the area were German-Americans who worked in factories or were tradesmen.
The Great Depression brought this prosperity to a swift end. The unemployment rate in the neighborhood hit 40%, causing many of the residents to either leave or be evicted. World War II, which had helped many other American cities to prosper, did not have a positive impact on Roscoe Village. Houses continued to foreclose and properties continued to deteriorate.
Crime was also a major issue at this time. A series of fires in 1977 caused major uproar among residents and led to the formation of Melrose-Oakley Block Club. The club’s aim was to improve the safety and the community of the village. Eventually, things began to look up. Crime rates dropped, housing prices increased, and once again Roscoe Village became a desirable place to live – a designation it retains to this day.
Roscoe Village, while not officially designated on any city map, is bounded by Addison Street to the North, Belmont Avenue to the South, Ravenswood Avenue to the East, and the Chicago River to the West.
Although it may not have as many name brand attractions as Wrigleyville or the Loop, Roscoe Village more than makes up for that with the independent character and community orientation of its boutique businesses. You’ll find most bars, restaurants, and shops clustered on Roscoe Street and Belmont Ave, everything from book stores, to music shops, to antiques vendors.
For more brand name shopping, residents can head over to Roscoe Square, located right across Western Ave.
Culture and Community
Roscoe Village is well-known for being community oriented. This started with the Melrose-Oakley Block Club in the 70s and eventually transformed into the current day “Roscoe Village Neighbors”, a group that aims to advocate for the neighborhood and enhance the quality of life for its residents.
The Roscoe Village Neighbors helps to put on a number of events throughout the year, including a Halloween Parade & Party, a Holiday celebration in December, and even a New Neighbors Party to welcome the newest residents of the neighborhood!
Outside of these events, you can also find summer festivals like the annual Burger Festival, the Chicago Bourbon and Barbecue Festival, and the Retro on Roscoe festival.
Because of its size, Roscoe Village is extremely walkable and residents will find most bar and restaurant destinations clustered on Belmont and Roscoe.
To travel to other parts of the city, residents can utilize the Paulina El stop, which serves the CTA Brown Line, or the CTA bus system by way of buses #50, #49, #77, and #152.
There are a number of educational options for residents of Roscoe Village as the area is zoned by Chicago Public Schools. Elementary school options include Audubon Elementary School, Bell Elementary School, and Jahn Elementary school. For High School, the options include Alcott College Prep, Lake View High School, and Lane Tech High School.
Devry University also has a college close by for more advanced educational options.
Homes in Roscoe Village tend to be either frame houses or brick/greystone two-flats. Homes have a median list price of $648,000 and a price per square foot of $305.