Chicago Neighborhoods: Brighton Park & McKinley Park

Brighton Park and McKinley Park are predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods situated along the busy commercial thoroughfare of Archer Avenue. The arrival of railroads and the Illinois & Michigan Canal attracted industry and working class residents to the area, and both neighborhoods are very much industrial and residential to this day. Trivia buffs should note that McKinley Park’s 37th Street and Honore intersection was designated in 1977 as Chicago’s geographic center by then-Mayor Michael Bilandic.

McKinley Park and Brighton Park share much. Both have parks, though McKinley’s is a large, lovely green space with ballfields, a lagoon, swimming pool and some of the tallest trees in the city — and Brighton’s is a mere playlot. But the original Brighton Park was a racetrack that sat on what, in 1902, became McKinley Park’s park.

Both neighborhoods’ residents are predominantly Hispanic, mainly Mexican.

And Archer Avenue is the common artery that keeps both McKinley Park and Brighton Park pumping commercially.

These are pleasant, working-class communities. While neither has a commercial district with the fiesta-like atmosphere of nearby Pilsen’s 18th Street or Little Village’s 26th Street, both have points of interest for visitors.


Central Manufacturing District

  • Other Attractions

Built as a manufacturing and business hub near the Union Stock Yards, the 1905 CMD was one of the nation’s earliest planned industrial districts. Its tallest towers disguise a water tower behind its brick exterior.

Free Admission | W. Pershing Rd. & S. Morgan St.

Crawford Steel Graffiti Wall

  • Art & Architecture

Sheet metal fabricator Crawford Steel uses the exterior of its building as a space for a rotating selection of graffiti artists to come and practice their artwork.

Free Admission | 3141 W. 36th Pl. | 773.376.6969

Dupont-Whitehouse House

  • Historical Landmarks

This Italianate-style brick house was built in 1876 as a home for Junot Whitehouse, the superintendent of the Dupont Gunpowder and Explosives plant that took up the majority of the neighborhood at the time.

Free Admission | 3558 S. Artesian Ave.

Five Holy Martyrs Church

  • Religious locations

This Polish Roman Catholic parish was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979; a section of W. 43rd St., between Kedzie and Western, was named Pope John Paul II Dr. in honor of his visit.

Free Admission | 4327 S. Richmond St. | 773.254.3636

Geographic Center of Chicago

  • Other Attractions

Dedicated in 1977 by Mayor Bilandic, the Geographic Center of Chicago, which was determined through a mathematic formula, is at S. Honore St. & W. 37th St.

Free Admission | W. 37th St. & S. Honore St.

Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Bridge

  • Art & Architecture

This bridge crossing the Sanitary & Ship Canal is one of the few remaining examples of an Art Deco–style roadway, and a rare example of Chicago’s first generation of movable-bridge design. For more information visit, “South Western Avenue Improvement.”

Free Admission | W. 31st. St. & S. Kedzie Ave.

McKinley Park

  • Parks & Gardens

The experimental McKinley Park originally offered ballfields, playgrounds, a swimming lagoon, and a building with changing rooms and bathrooms. More than 10,000 people attended the park’s dedication on June 13, 1902. The effort was so successful that the following year the South Park Commission began creating a whole system of new neighborhood parks for the south side. Opened to the public in 1905, the first ten were: Sherman, Ogden, Palmer, Bessemer, and Hamilton Parks, and Mark White, Russell, Davis, Armour, and Cornell Squares. These innovative neighborhood parks influenced the development of other parks throughout the United States.

Free Admission | 2210 W. Pershing Rd. | 312-747-6527

Richard J. Daley Boat Launch

  • Sports & Recreation

Chicago’s only riverside motorized boat launch, gives small crafts easier access to the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, by way of the Chicago Locks, and a view of the historic railroad bridges west of Western Avenue.

Free Admission | W. 31st St. & S. Western Ave. | 312.742.PLAY (7529)


Café El Mesón

  • Dining

This Christian-ran coffee shop serves as a bridge between the church and community, with religious and spiritual books for sale as well as good coffee in a relaxing atmosphere.

4631 S. Kedzie Ave. | 773.696.9691

Don Rafa Carnitas Restaurant

  • Mexican

An authentic restaurant for carnitas, or Mexican pulled pork, Don Rafa has become a neighborhood favorite, serving not only their signature dishes but also a full menu of Mexican favorites.

4617 S. Kedzie Ave. | 773.847.8342

El Rey Del Taco and Burritos

  • Mexican

In a neighborhood populated by great Mexican restaurants, it really says something that El Rey Del Taco & Burritos is one of the places most recommended by the locals.

4157 S. California Ave. | 773.475.6365

Filbert’s Soda

  • Food Retail: Specialty Food

With flavors from its Old Time Root Beer to lime and cherry, Filbert’s has been brewing up home-made, old-fashioned sodas since 1926. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

3430 S. Ashland Ave. | 773.847.1520

Huck Finn Restaurant

  • American (Traditional)

This popular 24-hour diner keeps the neighborhood coming back for their home-cooked comfort food and giant doughnuts.

3414 S. Archer Ave. | 773.247.5515

La Palapa

  • Mexican

Identified by the Jaws-like shark on the roof, La Palapa serves authentic Mexican seafood dishes, and features a glassed-in patio for a sunny and warm dining experience.

2000 W. 34th St. | 773.376.9620

Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream

  • American (Traditional)

Serving the neighborhood’s favorite chili in the same location since 1924, Lindy’s is also now home to Gertie’s Ice Cream, which has been around since 1901.

3685 S. Archer Ave. | 773.927.7807

Restaurante El Salvador

  • Latin American

It might not be fancy, but this authentic Salvadoran restaurant serves a mean pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador.

4125 S. Archer Ave. | 773.579.0405

Tio Luis Tacos

  • Mexican

Voted one time as the best steak tacos in the city by the Chicago Tribune, Tio Luis Tacos has been a neighborhood favorite for over 10 years.

3856 S. Archer Ave. | 773.843.0098


Watra Church Goods

  • Bookstores

One of the largest church goods suppliers in the country; offering three floors of religious gifts, clerical apparel, liturgical consulting, original sculpture and sculpture repair.

4201 S. Archer Ave. | 773.247.2425

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