Originally an industrial nabe, residential Belmont Cragin sits in Chicago’s northwest side. Home to three pocket nabes (Hanson Park, Cragin, and Belmont Central), Belmont Cragin gets its name from a fusion of old and new: ‘Belmont’ from one of the nabe’s main commercial stretches, and ‘Cragin’ from the Cragin Brothers’ metalworking company way back in the day. Small brick homes and some new condos make up most of the real estate here. While a majority of the nabe is strictly filled with homes and corner stores, Belmont Cragin also boasts some concentrated strips designated for shopping, a plethora of good eats, and even a few bars. Belmont Cragin also boasts numerous small parks—ideal for both kid and adult recreation.
Belmont Cragin Reviews
In Decline Since the 90s
Historically, Belmont-Cragin has been a family-friendly, blue-collar immigrant community with a suburban feel. However, changes in demographics (over half its residents are now Mexican immigrants) and the close of several factories have led to an increase in gang-related activity, school overcrowding, and petty crime.
The upside is that houses are cheap, parking is easy to find and there are plenty of trees and parks. For a young family just starting out, this might be a good place for a first home—as long as you enroll your kids in private schools.
Disappointed in BC
This neighborhood seemed like a decent place to move my family but within 6 months there was a serious increase in gang activity, street crime, tagging and foreclosures. My kids were already enrolled in a magnet school in another hood which is a really good thing because the local grade school is chaotic and a recruiting ground for the local thugs. My kids and I do NOT spend time in front of the house on warm evenings and certainly don’t play on the local school playground. I will only be here long enough to prepare for my next move which I hate because I love the city…usually.
BC is a large and residential residential segment of the deindustrialized, heavily Hispanic west side. There’s great food and access to parks and schools and continues the trend for neighborhoods west of Logan to be better places for working families than gentrifying creative types.
Change in the wind for Belmont Cragin
While traditionally Belmont Cragin has been known for its Polish population, recently this neighborhood has seen an influx in Latino citizens. The change in population has brought in more young families and kids and thus a higher interest in improving schools and vamping up the neighborhood itself. Should be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.
A classic Bungalow Belt neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side, Belmont Cragin is a middle class Polish and Mexican neighborhood. Many of the neighborhoods on Chicago’s fringes lack interest and strong identity, but it seems like Belmont Cragin has a bit of both in the form of Polish bars and restaurants, and even bookstores.
This is a neighborhood for those with cars. There are no El lines nearby, and taking the bus from Belmont Cragin to downtown would take forever.