Why I Live in Chatham, Chicago

Tiffany Harston, an assistant principal, says what she loves best about her Chicago South Side Chatham neighborhood is its stability. "It's known to be a nice, family-oriented black community where a lot of middle-class families reside," she says. And that includes some famous former residents.

Chatham is the childhood home of Nat King Cole, whose father preached at True Light Baptist Church. You'll find Nat King Cole Park, which features an outdoor basketball court and spraypool at 361 E. 85th St. in Chatham not far from his father's church. Also in Chatham is Tuley Park, 501 E. 90th St., with a swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, baseball field, and more.

Bounded by 79th Street on the north, 95th on the south, and roughly the Dan Ryan Expressway west and Cottage Grove on the east, Chatham offers a mix of housing stock from the iconic Chicago brick bungalows to Victorians, ranch homes, even Tudors and town homes. Harston notes, "Homes are a nice size and have lots of character."

Most of the rental buildings lie along 79th and 81st Sts.

Harston, 34, grew up in the neighborhood and currently lives in a four-story brick home with her husband. Her other reasons for loving Chatham:
  1. Prestigious African-American businesses. Not only is this where these business started, like Illinois Service Federal, Seaway National Bank, and Johnson Products, but it's where their owners live. I can remember as a child that the Johnsons were not just members of this community, but they were members in this community," she says.
  2. Long-time residents. "You don't get a lot of turnover, " she says. "Most of the people on my block are older people, or its their children or grandchildren in the home. The history is rich in the homes over here. You don't get a lot of newcomers."
  3. Close to family. "We're centrally located, less than 15 minutes from all our families, north side, west side, south suburbs."
  4. Close to attractions. "We're not far from the lake, and some of the city highlights, like the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, a lot of the mom and pop shops, the DuSable Museum," she say. "they're all within a 5-10 mile radius from us."
Access to city transportation. Harston notes that there are Metra and L stops and a bus line. "If for some reason we're unable to drive, we're situation in a position where we have access to public transportation, " she says.

A few stats on Chicago Chatham neighborhood from the Chicago Tribune:

  • Median home price: $152,500
  • Current listings from $52,000-$195,000
  • Half owners, half renters
  • About 35,800 people live in the neighborhood

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