Chicago Neighborhoods: Bridgeport

The birthplace of five Chicago mayors, including one of our most recent, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bridgeport is a working-class neighborhood on the near South Side. Its former Irish and Eastern European makeup has diversified in recent decades with the influx of Chinese- and Mexican-Americans from adjacent neighborhoods. This cultural kaleidoscope is mirrored in the many fashionable eateries appearing alongside old-school Italian spots and hidden gems, like Schaller’s Pump, Chicago’s longest-operating tavern.

Bridgeport is a neighborhood that for generations has been defined by the White Sox (who, as will surprise even lifelong Chicagoans, actually play their baseball in Armour Square, the next neighborhood over) and mayors (five came from here — including two Daleys — but 40 didn’t).

At its heart, it has long been a working-class area of modest brick cottages and two-flats, and of ethnic enclaves, enclaves built around churches built to reinforce that sense of community.

That sense remains, though the ethnicities — once largely Irish, Italian and eastern European — have expanded to include Hispanics and, increasingly, Chinese, as well as a new group of immigrants: young people from all over.

For sure, no longer does Bridgeport resemble its original name, Hardscrabble.

This neighborhood is experiencing a true, broadly-based renewal. Young singles and couples, and artists of any age, are moving in, taking advantage of relatively low rents, interesting and decent housing stock and, for the artists, available exhibition space. Young lawyers and other professionals — drawn in part by good transportation (the CTA’s Red and Orange Lines border the community) — are rehabbing older units and building new ones.

For sure, it’s the artists that truly shake the prevailing image of what has long been perceived a shot-and-a-beer neighborhood while adding to its appeal for visitors and for investors.

“The developer always follows where the artists go, because the artists make the neighborhood interesting,” says Michael Chou, manager of Zhou B Art Center on the 1000 block of 35th Street. “They used to be in Pilsen, but the rents there got higher, so they immigrated to Bridgeport.”

The Zhou Center alone, created by renowned Chicago-based Chinese-American artists Shan Zuo and Da Huang Zhou, has more than 30 resident artists, whose studios and galleries are open to the public every third Friday; a main floor gallery, showcasing the Zhou brothers’ work and that of other local and world artists, is open daily, as is an onsite cafe. Another notable exhibition space: Co-Prosperity Sphere, on Morgan near 32nd Street, home to, among other interesting events, the Vers10n Festival (which takes place in the springtime) and Select Media Fest (in the fall).

Of the neighborhood’s churches, St. Mary of Perpetual Help (1903), built on 32nd Street near Morgan for what then was a largely Polish parish, is a dazzler, with its great dome and an interior resplendent in white and gold. (All the listed churches are open to the public during daily services; at other times, though these exteriors are reason enough to check them out, try the rectories or church offices to gain admission.)

All Saints St. Anthony’s Church (1913), 28th Place at Wallace Street, is notable for the fine mosaic over its entrance, best appreciated when illuminated by the afternoon sun. St. Barbara (1914), Throop Street south of Archer Avenue, built when St. Mary of Perpetual Help couldn’t handle the crowds, is a startling Renaissance-style octagonal building whose interior and stained glass rivals those of its mother church.

In this neighborhood of transition, a former Presbyterian church becomes a Buddhist temple (Ling Shen Ching Tze, on 31st Street near Morgan), a former monastery becomes a B&B (Benedictine Bed & Breakfast, Aberdeen Street just south of 31st), and it’s just another piece of change . . .

Bridgeport’s sudden, still-uneven lurch toward trendiness hasn’t disrupted most of its older traditions. You can still buy a Lithuanian beer at Bernice’s Tavern, a classic, cozy neighborhood bar on Halsted Street near 32nd Street. The Ramova Grill, three blocks south, has been proud of its chili since 1929, and aside from a certain patina (and the prices) hasn’t changed much since then. Schaller’s Pump, two blocks further south on Halsted, has been a watering hole non-stop (legally and, during prohibition, on the sly) since 1881; White Sox fans crowd the place before games for its signature butt steaks and easy conviviality.

A relative newcomer (since 1985 — in Bridgeport, that’s a newcomer), the Polo Cafe, on the 3300 block of Morgan Street, has come a long way from its “nuts and candy” beginnings to full-pleasure restaurant. Even newer (since 2001), Gio’s Cafe/Deli, on Lowe Avenue near 27th Street, looks like an ordinary little grocery store with a few tables until you order one of its extraordinary pastas.

And while U.S. Cellular Field is on the Armour Square side of the viaduct, the White Sox certainly are a presence in this proud South Side neighborhood. You may be able to find a Cub hat at the Grandstand (600 W. 35th St.) if you look closely, but shoppers will find every variation of Sox cap — plus Sox jerseys, T-shirts and bobbleheads — at this quintessential baseball store.

What visitors won’t find anywhere in the city is anything quite like Stearns Quarry, 27th Street at Halsted. It was Chicago’s first stone quarry – its 1833 beginnings beat the city’s birthday by a year and it continued to supply limestone into the 1960s. In 2009 it became 27 acres of park.

Within the old quarry walls is a fishing pond. A native wetland has been created. Kites soar from its open meadow.

A quarry that yielded fossils in one of Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods has become one its newest parks in a neighborhood that, in many ways, is becoming new all over again.



Armour Square Park

  • Parks & Gardens

Named for the one-time owner and operator of the largest meat packing plant in the world, Armour Square Park opened in 1905 to provide green space for South Side tenement dwellers. Today the park hosts baseball, swimming and other leisure activities.

Free Admission | 3309 S. Shields Ave. | 312.747.6012

Benton House

  • Cultural Centers

A social services center in operation since 1907 that originally started as a nursery, but has evolved into a community center to help strengthen and enrich the neighborhood as a whole. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

Free Admission | 3052 S. Gratten Ave. | 773.927.6420

Bridgeport Bed and Breakfast and Polo Café

  • Other Attractions

This bed and breakfast offers Bridgeport-themed suites including “The Mayor’s Suite”, “The 11th Ward Suite” or “The Sox Suite.” Beneath Bridgeport Bed and Breakfast, and operated by the same owner and staff, is Polo Cafe. The restaurant’s high quality steaks, burgers, ribs, and Saturday “Bloody Mary Brunch” are complemented by great decor includinga chalkboard mural of Bridgeport featuring al the Chicago mayors from the community. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

3322 S. Morgan St. | 773.927.1122

Canal Origins Park

  • Historical Landmarks

This park commemorates the 1848 Illinois & Michigan Canal, connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River watershed, and contains the canal’s original mouth, a Chicago Landmark. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

Free Admission | 2701 S. Ashland Ave. | 312.747.6184

Co-Prosperity Sphere

  • Cultural Centers

Stroll past three large window galleries with new and engaging artwork to enjoy. This “experimental cultural center” highlights radical youth culture through art exhibitions and performances.

Free Admission | 3219 S. Morgan St. | 773.837.0145

Eastern Expansion

  • Art & Architecture

A great place to glance in while you stroll by on 31st St., this window and installation gallery hosts a solo project by a new artist each month.

Free Admission | 244 W. 31st St. | 773.837.0145

First Lutheran Church of the Trinity

  • Cultural Centers

The First Lutheran Church is the oldest church in Bridgeport, serving since 1865. This church also doubles as a community center hosting various clothing giveaways, art fests and music events.

Free Admission | 643 W. 31st St. | 312.842.7390

Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Former House

  • Historical Landmarks

While walking the neighborhood, you can view from the street the long-time home of notable former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Free Admission | 3536 S. Lowe Ave.

McGuane Park

  • Parks & Gardens

Revolutionary for 1905, this park along with nine others provided leisure space to area tenement residents. Now it has many facilities for baseball, swimming, tennis, basketball and more.

Free Admission | 2901 S. Poplar Ave. | 312.747.6497

Stearn’s Quarry Park

  • Parks & Gardens

Built on the site of a limestone quarry, this park (Chicago’s newest) features a pond, a canyon, walking trails, and many other natural features not often found in such an urban location.

Free Admission | 2901 S. Poplar Ave.

U.S. Cellular Field: Chicago White Sox

  • Popular Attractions,
  • Sports & Recreation

Enjoy Major League Baseball at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. U.S. Cellular Field is easy to get to, has plenty of parking and transportation options and an area dedicated to children so it’s fun for the whole family.

333 W. 35th St. | 312.674.1000

Urban Lab

  • Art & Architecture

Incorporating the material of a grocery store that previously occupied the site, the live and work space for this architecture firm is a fascinating architectural addition to Bridgeport.

Free Admission | 3209 S. Morgan St. | 773.650.1130

Zhou B Art Center

  • Art & Architecture

Established in 2003 by world-renowned artists the Zhou Brothers, the Zhou B Art Center is home to several gallery spaces, artists studios, an art store, and a café.

Free Admission | 1029 W. 35th St. | 773.523.0200


Bernice’s Tavern

  • Bar

Live music and open mic events are held throughout the week at this great bar featuring incredible decoration and artwork. It’s been operating for 60-plus years. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

3238 S. Halsted St. | 312.907.1580

Bridgeport Coffee House

  • American (Traditional)

At this very cozy neighborhood coffee shop with locally roasted coffee, you can even buy “Bubbly Creek” coffee, which supports a clean-up initiative for the South Branch of the Chicago River. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

3101 S. Morgan St. | 773.247.9950

Carbón Live Fire Mexican Grill

  • Mexican

Besides one of the best fish tacos in Chicago, Carbón also serves other authentic Mexican specialties.

300 W. 26th St. | 312.225.3200

Connie’s Pizza

  • American (Traditional)

Originally started in the 1960s on 26th St. in Bridgeport, this is Connie’s flagship location.

2373 S. Archer Ave. | 312.326.3443

Ed’s Pot Sticker House

  • Chinese

Voted by the Chicago Sun-Times as one of the best Chinese restaurants in 2008, Ed’s Pot Sticker House serves up unbeatable pot stickers and an eggplant with garlic sauce.

3139 S. Halsted St. | 312.326.6898

Gio’s Café & Deli

  • Italian

Everything is either homemade or imported from Italy at this authentic Italian restaurant and deli, which also has a large selection of imported Italian groceries. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

2724 S. Lowe Ave. | 312.225.6368


  • American (New)

Locally produced ingredients are used at this family owned organic brunch restaurant. Specialties include the “Nanadict”, which uses a pupusa instead of an English muffin on this version of eggs Benedict, and Nana’s Baked Chilaquiles (a tortilla casserole).

3267 S. Halsted St. | 312.929.2486

Pancho Pistola’s

  • Mexican

Known for its steak tacos and strong margaritas, Pancho Pistola’s is a neighborhood favorite for authentic Mexican food. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

700 W. 31st St. | 312.225.8808

Ramova Grill

  • American (Traditional)

Nothing has changed at this 80-year-old diner since its inception. Many think they have the best chili in Chicago.

3510 S. Halsted St. | 773.847.9058


  • American (Traditional)

A neighborhood favorite specializing in breaded steak sandwiches, this is also its flagship location. Ricobene’s has a few other Chicago locations.

252 W. 26th St. | 312.225.5555

Schaller’s Pump

  • American (Traditional)

Open since 1881, Schaller’s Pump is one of the oldest restaurants in the city. The peephole used during Prohibition, when the establishment operated as a speakeasy, is still intact today.

3714 S. Halsted St. | 773.376.6332


Augustine’s Spiritual Goods

  • Local Flavor

Augustine’s has everything for your mystical needs, from spiritual oils to ritual spell kits.

3327 S. Halsted St. | 773.843.1933

Grand Stand

  • Shopping

This huge sports memorabilia outlet along 35th St., just west of U.S. Cellular Field, bills itself as the official White Sox souvenir headquarters.

600 W. 35th St. | 773.927.1984

Let’s Boogie Records & Tapes

  • Shopping

Let’s Boogie is a vintage record store specializing in vinyl, and 8-track and cassette tapes.

3321 S. Halsted St. | 773.254.0139

Monster Island Toys

  • Toy Store

Find Godzilla-merchandise at this specialty store plus imported Japanese-made action figures.

3335 S. Halsted St. | 773.247.5733



  • Bus,
  • Walking

This Chicago Neighborhood Tour traces several phases of Chicago’s history through Bridgeport’s monumental churches and other working-class relics, and its recent transformation into one of the city’s hottest new arts and dining scenes.

77 E. Randolph St. | 312.742.1190 (TTY: 312.744.2947)

Palmisano Park (Stearns Quarry) Audio Tour

  • Audio & Self-Guided,
  • Neighborhood Focus,
  • Walking

Explore Stearns Quarry Park — Chicago’s newest and most unusual park– and learn about its natural and designed features. The Chicago Park District and Parkways Foundation present a free self-guided audio tour of Stearns Quarry Park. You can either download the tour to an MP3 player, burn a CD, or listen to it online. The tour includes a map with stopping points that correspond with the audio tracks. If you visit each place and listen to the tracks, your walking tour will take approximately 40 minutes.

Free Admission | 2901 S. Popular Ave. | 312.742.PLAY (7529)


Bridgeport Farmers Market

  • Culinary Events,
  • Farmers Markets

Cheese, seasonable fresh produce, baked goods and honey are just some of the items that will be available at the Bridgeport Farmers Market.

Free Admission | 35th & Wallace | 312.744.3315

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