Neighborhood Spotlight: University Village

This neighborhood is a living legacy of Chicago’s status as an immigrant haven. Called Little Italy by some and University Village by others, the corner of land bordered by I-90 and I-290 is the cultural nexus of a storied Italian community. Restaurants and shops have stood the test of time in this area. Original construction like the Jane Addams Hull-House and the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii are reminders of the late 19th century – when this area was a haven for Europeans moving to America.

Evolving Factors:
West of Ashland, between I-290 and Roosevelt, is the Illinois Medical District (IMD). This area encompasses Rush University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC); the Medical District has a vibrant, upbeat community currently undergoing expansion. Rush University, a private school with a $500 million endowment, enrolls 2,000 students annually. IMD has the most diverse patient population in the United States, from both an ethnic and socioeconomic perspective. The neighborhood has a population of more than 100,000 people, employs more than 29,000 workers and generates $3.4 billion each year. Along with the current real estate expansions, the area also has 55 acres of raw land available for development.

Both I-90 and I-290 are easily accessible from University Village; these highways take travelers outside of the city. As for travel within Chicago, the Blue Line operates along the north end of the neighborhood and the Pink Line operates along the west end. Bus routes in the neighborhood include lines 7, 8, 18, 9, 12, 60, 62 and 157.

Retail & Dining:
Just south of Taylor is Roosevelt Road, which offers businesses for commercial shopping. Places like CVS, Best Buy, BMO Harris Bank, Jewel-Osco and Bank of America can be found on Roosevelt. Across the Chicago River is The Roosevelt Collection, which has several retail shops and a movie theatre. Next to The Collection is a Super Target and other various retail.

On Taylor Street, from Morgan Street to Ashland Avenue, there are restaurants that have existed for decades. Pizza and pasta joints are the apogee in Little Italy; authentic establishments like Mario’s Italian Lemonade, Al’s Beef and the Maxwell Street market have served hungry Chicagoans for years. The Taylor Street strip is bustling with other notable restaurants like Jubrano’s, Patio, Conte Di Savoia and the eponymous Taylor Made Pizza. Little Italy also boasts Jim’s Original, a 24/7 hotdog stand that opened 1939 and offers the original Maxwell Street Polish sausage.

According to information from Nielsen this year, the total population of University Village is 18,436 people; 48 percent are men and 52 percent are women. The average household income is $85,934, and 59 percent of residents are employed. The renting population is 64 percent.

UIC has the largest medical school in the United States and consistently ranks in the top 50 schools for research expenditures. To the north of Taylor Street is the UIC Pavilion, which is a 9,500-seat multipurpose arena and part of the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. The school is a state-funded public research university that enrolls nearly 30,000 students. UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area, with 15 separate colleges under its domain. Its athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Horizon League.

The neighborhood also features St. Ignatius College Prep. This private, coeducational Jesuit high school has an endowment of $34 million and enrolls students from across the city.

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University Village Analysis