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Open House Chicago Sites

OHC 2022 includes more than 150 sites in 20+ neighborhoods across Chicago and nearby suburbs, many of which are not typically open to the public. Sites are open at the times listed throughout the weekend of October 15 and 16. Entry is free unless otherwise noted.

Note: Individual OHC sites may have additional requirements for entry, such as proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or other measures. These requirements will be listed in the site's individual description. 

City-Wide Community Partners

77 Flavors, Access Contemporary Music, Austin Coming Together, Beverly Area Planning Association, Bronzeville Historical Society, Chatham Business Association, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Loop Alliance, Chicago South Side Film Festival, Chicago's North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, Evanston History Center, Hermosa Neighborhood Association, Hyde Park Art Center, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Lawndale Pop Up Spot, LISC (Local Initiative Support Coalition), NON:op Open Opera Works, North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society, Plein Air Painters of Chicago (PAPC), Preservation Chicago, Quad Communities Development Corporation - Bronzeville (Douglas, Grand Blvd, Oakland, North Kenwood), Rogers Park Business Alliance, The Newberry Library, The Wasteshed Chicago, Uptown United/Uptown Chamber, Urban Juncture, Visit Oak Park, West Side Forward.

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Neighborhoods

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Downtown

After the devastation brought by the Chicago Fire of 1871, the central business district, known affectionately as the Loop, was rebuilt throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. This process gave birth to the skyscraper through the use of the steel structural skeleton. Today, downtown Chicago is a vibrant commercial—and increasingly residential—district famed the world over for its innovative and iconic high-rises, elegant boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park and the Riverwalk.

Austin

Once part of Cicero Township, Austin was involuntarily annexed into Chicago in 1899 over political disagreements with neighboring Oak Park. The remaining pre-annexation structures, including parks, churches, gracious homes and a fire station harken back to Austin's suburban origins. In the 1920s, ornate apartment and commercial buildings popped up along major thoroughfares like Lake Street, Central Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. The neighborhood's centerpiece, Columbus Park, was laid out by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen in the 1920s. Though the neighborhood has faced several challenging decades of disinvestment through "blockbusting" and red lining due to rising racial tensions in the 1960s, many organizations today are working together for positive change, including the release of a new Quality of Life Plan for the neighborhood in 2018.

Avondale

Avondale is a diverse working-class area on the northwest side characterized by a low-rise housing stock of two-flats, bungalows and workers cottages. Primary commercial corridors along Elston and Belmont feature a mix of retail and light-industrial uses. Long known as an immigrant—and especially Polish—neighborhood, in recent years Avondale has welcomed new bars, restaurants, business startups and infill residential construction - a byproduct of rapid development in Logan Square, immediately to the south.

Beverly

Beverly, like neighboring Morgan Park, was greatly impacted by the addition of the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad line. Beverly Hills station opened at 91st Street in 1889, and the community north of 107th Street along the Blue Island Ridge eventually took the name Beverly. Its biggest residential boom took place in the 1920s and many large Revival-style homes from the period remain, built on deep wooded lots atop rolling hills. 95th Street was established as—and remains—an important commercial artery. Other businesses are clustered every few blocks around the train stations. Despite being annexed to Chicago by 1890, the community has retained its own small-town identity.

Bridgeport

Formerly known as Hardscrabble, Bridgeport was established to house the workers who built the 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal. Five Chicago mayors have called Bridgeport home, including Edward Joseph Kelly in the 1930s and '40s and both Daleys, father and son. Today, Bridgeport boasts a vibrant arts community and numerous cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood is a melting pot and one of the most diverse areas of Chicago, with descendants of the early Irish, Italian and Lithuanian communities mingling with first and second-generation Mexican- and Chinese-Americans.

Bronzeville

Bronzeville, one of the nation's most significant African American communities, sits just south of Downtown. During the Great Migration, the area became a hotspot for jazz music. It is linked to cultural and social advances such as the Civil Rights Movement, Negro League Baseball and Black History Month. Due to its affluent past, Bronzeville contains some of Chicago's most distinguished residential architecture, with one of the largest concentrations of historic mansions in the city. Efforts are underway to spur inclusive economic development that builds on Bronzeville’s culturally rich legacies.

Chatham / South Shore

In the 1880s, several wealthy Chicagoans were asked to literally move their homes to make way for the 1893 World’s Fair in today’s Jackson Park. They went south, kicking off the construction of beautiful homes and apartment buildings along South Shore Drive and in the Jackson Park Highlands. Subsequent waves of development soon brought many more people to the area, and despite considerable population loss since the 1950s, South Shore remains one of the most densely populated South Side neighborhoods. Architecturally, some of the older grand homes and buildings took cues from the luxurious South Shore Country Club. That institution’s policy of racial discrimination resulted in its closure, but community activists rallied to preserve it as a neighborhood anchor for all. Since 1975, it’s been owned by the Chicago Park District and is now named the South Shore Cultural Center. The community is currently at a crossroads, with plans for major developments to the north and south promising significant change in the coming decades.

Chatham, just to the south and east, developed in earnest in the 1880s as Irish, Italian and Hungarian railroad and steel workers flooded into new housing subdivisions on formerly swampy open land. For most of its history, Chatham has been a middle class stronghold, first for European Americans and then primarily African Americans from the 1950s to the present. Although the neighborhood has several distinct areas, it is the classic Chicago bungalow that has come to define its character by and large. A cruise through Chatham today will yield block after block of tidy brick bungalows and avenues lined with independent Black-owned businesses. While the job base has been in decline over the past few decades, owing in part to the closure of steel mills, the recent opening of a Discover Card Customer Care center in a former Target store promises to bring around 1,000 jobs to the community.

Chinatown

Chinatown was established near Wentworth Avenue and 22nd Street (now Cermak Road) around 1905. Prior to that, Chinese immigrants lived and worked mostly in the Loop near Clark and Van Buren Streets. Chinatown Gate, built in the 1970s, greets visitors with a Chinese inscription that states, “The World is for All.” Pagoda-like structures and buildings with elaborate reliefs of dragons, lions, birds and Chinese characters are found throughout the neighborhood in places like Ping Tom Memorial Park, the Pui Tak Center and Chinatown Square Mall. Today, the neighborhood is both a bustling commercial hub packed with restaurants, bakeries and specialty stores, and a home for thousands of Chinese Americans.

East Garfield Park

In its early days, East Garfield Park was home to mostly Irish, German, Italian, Russian and Jewish immigrants, anchored by factory jobs and the neighborhood's 184-acre namesake park. A succession of events—the Depression, World War II, displacement from the Eisenhower Expressway construction and the 1968 riots—upended Garfield Park. Much of Madison Street was devastated in the riots following Dr. King's assassination, and middle-class residents and businesses left in droves. From 1950 to the present, the population dropped by more than two-thirds. Groups like the Garfield Park Community Council are working to revitalize parts of their community, and new food business incubators, light manufacturing businesses, maker spaces and artist studios are breathing new life into abandoned structures. The neighborhood also features a remarkable collection of ornate 19th century greystones and the landmark Garfield Park Conservatory, a major year-round draw for Chicagoans and tourists alike.

Evanston

Founded by Methodist business leaders in 1857 and incorporated in 1863, Evanston is home to an ethnically diverse population, a rich cultural scene, Northwestern University and a vibrant downtown seamlessly connected to Chicago via Metra and 'L' trains. Evanston's early growth spurts were largely due to its accessibility to and from Chicago by rail. It was also a cradle of the 19th century Temperance Movement, which led to Prohibition, and remained a dry city until 1972. Ironically, today Evanston nurtures a thriving ecosystem of micro-breweries and micro-distilleries.

Hermosa

Hermosa is a working-class neighborhood on the Northwest Side that grew with the arrival of streetcar service and new factory jobs. Many skilled workers from Scotland, Germany and Sweden settled here, including Walt Disney's father, who built a cottage at Tripp and Palmer Streets in 1893. The southern area near Armitage and Fullerton developed first, and in the 1920s the north end of Hermosa filled in with bungalows (in 2018, this area was granted historic bungalow district landmark protections). By the 1930s, Hermosa’s population grew to near what it is today, around 25,000. In the 1980s, Latinx residents became the majority, with many nationalities and dialects represented. The neighborhood boasts three popular parks and a high-quality housing stock largely unchanged from 100 years ago.

Humboldt Park

The Humboldt Park neighborhood takes its name from a 207-acre park designed by pioneering engineer-architect William Le Baron Jenney, and further refined by famed landscape designer Jens Jensen. Studded with large, fanciful buildings in the Prairie, Queen Anne and Tudor styles, the park is surrounded by classic workers cottages, greystones and terra cotta-tiled commercial buildings. Humboldt Park saw an influx of Latinx residents beginning in the 1940s and the area remains largely Puerto Rican, Dominican and Mexican to this day despite a wave of gentrification. The neighborhood is enlivened by the work of multiple arts and cultural organizations including the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Two large steel Puerto Rican flags, at opposite ends of a stretch of West Division Street known as Paseo Boricua, were designated city landmarks in 2022.

Hyde Park / Kenwood

Founded in the early 1850s, the culturally rich and diverse neighborhood of Hyde Park is home to activists, artists, politicians, students and scholars. From innovative Modernist landmarks to bucolic green spaces, Hyde Park is studded with remarkable architecture. Its location is enviable, just seven miles from the Loop and encompassing two of the city’s largest parks: Jackson and Washington. The 1893 World’s Fair and the establishment of the University of Chicago triggered a wave of development. Fearful of large-scale housing demolition in the 1960s, community groups worked to stabilize the area and preserve Hyde Park's identity as a vibrant and unique neighborhood. Today, Hyde Park is undergoing rapid change linked to significant new commercial development.

Immediately to the north, Kenwood is a predominately residential neighborhood matching Hyde Park's architectural dynamism and racial diversity. Founded in the 1850s as part of Hyde Park Township and annexed to Chicago in 1889, Kenwood soon became one of the city's most affluent areas. Early industrialists and business leaders like Julius Rosenwald, A.G. Spaulding and Max Adler built enormous homes here, and Muhammad Ali, Louis Farrakhan, Elijah Muhammad and the Obamas have all taken up residency at some point on gracious Woodlawn, Ellis and Greenwood Aves. Injecting beautiful greenery into the neighborhood, Drexel Blvd offers a different vibe with towering greystones flanking lush parkway.

Lincoln Square / Ravenswood

The names Lincoln Square and Ravenswood are often used interchangeably, representing two distinct but closely-linked communities. Ravenswood is a small, predominately residential neighborhood mostly contained within the eastern half of the larger Lincoln Square Area. Lincoln Square encompasses a number of commercial districts and residential pockets. The area has long been known for its German identity, but today you're just as likely to see businesses catering to residents of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. It also contains a former industrial corridor along the Chicago & Northwestern Railway tracks (Ravenswood Avenue) that has been transformed into a unique arts, shopping and craft beverage production district.

Little Village / Pilsen

Named after a city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen was established in the 1840s as one of Chicago’s earliest working-class immigrant communities. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, both Pilsen and neighboring Little Village to the west drew large numbers of Bohemian immigrants who found work at the Union Stockyards and nearby manufacturing plants. Since the 1960s, a predominantly Mexican American population has defined both areas. In many ways culturally and physically contiguous, Pilsen is anchored by bustling 18th Street while Little Village boasts a 2-mile-long commercial district along 26th Street, an economic engine with sales receipts second only to North Michigan Avenue. Bright murals and mosaics mark the streetscape in both neighborhoods and often reflect Mexican history and culture. In recent years, a growing number of breweries, restaurants, galleries and music venues centered around 18th Street have joined the area’s vibrant cultural mix, while unfortunately spurring rising rents.

Near North Side

Located just north of the Loop and the Chicago River, the Near North Side is a large community area that includes the Gold Coast, Old Town, River North and Streeterville neighborhoods. Its most famous element is the Magnificent Mile, the elegant Parisian-inspired shopping boulevard that developed along Michigan Avenue after the opening of the DuSable Bridge in 1920. The “Mag Mile” divides the dense lakefront area of Streeterville, largely taken up with residential towers and medical campus buildings, from the western reaches of the community, defined more by repurposed industrial buildings and a bustling dining and club scene. The Near North Side has undergone constant reinvention throughout the history of Chicago, a process that continues today as more people yearn to live downtown.

Near West Side

The Near West Side is one of Chicago's oldest and most ethnically diverse community areas. It encompasses several neighborhoods established by 19th century European immigrants, including Greektown and Little Italy. Despite massively disruptive 20th century urban renewal projects such as the Eisenhower Expressway, the University of Illinois Chicago campus and the United Center, remnants of the area's ethnic enclaves remain. In the past 20 years, the vast former meatpacking and warehousing zone encompassing the West Loop and Fulton Market District has rapidly developed into a thriving business, dining and residential neighborhood luring corporate titans like McDonald's and Google to set up major offices.

North Lawndale

North Lawndale is best known for beautiful Douglass Park, laid out by William Le Baron Jenney in the 1870s to help spur the westward growth of Chicago. Many of North Lawndale's first residents were Bohemian immigrants who worked at the McCormick Reaper Plant to the south. Later, the area welcomed a large Jewish population. Today, it is home to a predominantly African American community. North Lawndale residents have provided significant contributions to progressive policies around community development, racial equity and urban farming. The neighborhood also boasts an outstanding collection of greystone homes in the K-Town historic district, and the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse complex which has been gradually undergoing a visionary redevelopment.

Oak Park

Chicago's suburban neighbor to the west is world-renowned for its residential architecture and strong association with architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Oak Park split from Cicero Township in 1902 and was linked to Chicago by the Lake Street Elevated (now CTA Green Line). With a population of 52,000, the village may contain more historic architectural sites per square mile than any other in the country: it has dozens of homes designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, George Maher, Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummond, E. E. Roberts and John Van Bergen. Oak Park also boasts a proud artistic and literary heritage, and was the birthplace and childhood home of Ernest Hemingway.

Rogers Park / West Ridge

Rogers Park is, by some measures, the most economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Chicago. A trip down any of Rogers Park's main streets reveals an entirely unique cultural experience that seems to transport visitors to destinations around the globe, with a diverse building stock to match. The residential community west of Ridge Avenue is home to many brick bungalows, two-flats and apartment buildings. Unlike neighboring Rogers Park, West Ridge maintained a low population through 1900. When brickyards moved to the area, Scandinavian and German workers came for jobs. The end of each World War sparked population growth, and many new ethnic groups such as Jews, Middle Easterners, Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans have come to call it home since the 1960s.

Uptown

Before the movie industry went west to Hollywood, Uptown was the home of well-known early film stars including Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. The neighborhood features many ornate historic structures dating from its heyday as an entertainment hub in the 1920s and 1930s. It also boasts an outstanding array of historic residential architecture from single-family homes to ornate apartment blocks. Uptown's historic legacies, rich diversity, fantastic live music and eclectic dining scene make it a modern-day cultural destination.

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