Your guide is launching a specialty website for Townhomes here in Chicago in the hopes of becoming the Townhome King of Chicago. And no, it seems I can’t be www.townhomeking.com – some other dude beat me to it. But nonetheless, we perservere and are proud to launch (with a few bugs):
It’s 95% there. And the remainder should be up and running within a week.
And so in honor of Townhomes, let’s launch Townhome week (or at least several days) with some Townhome topics near and dear to my heart.
History of townhomes in Chicago
Townhomes in Chicago are as varied as the neighborhoods in which they reside. They serve as modest homes at affordable prices as well as luxury status symbols at swanky addresses.
Chicago Row Homes – which for the purposes of our discussion are included within the definition of townhomes – have a history that dates back to the late 1890’s in Chicago. Beautiful examples of elegant Chicago row homes can be found on the near south side, in Old Town and in Lincoln Park. Then, as now, the row homes were conceived to offer “a little bit more” for “a little less.” Elegant row homes popped up in small pockets all over Chicago through the 1920’s. Offering nearly the same amount of space as a single-family home in the same neighborhood, the row homes were affordable alternatives to buying a whole house and nicer than renting an apartment.
Popularity of row homes and townhomes took a break for half-a-century in Chicago. Construction of townhomes picked up again in earnest in the 1960’s with “Mid-Century Modern” homes being constructed in desirable locations in slightly off-beat neighborhoods such as Old Town and Lakeview. In the 1960’s, neighborhoods such as Lakeview, and the fill-in neighborhood to the west of the Gold Coast were nowhere near as desirable as they are today. Yet East Lakeview’s location near the waterfront, and the yet-established Old Town proximity to Downtown inspired a few developers to take a chance on building a few townhouses near already established clusters of high-rises.
During the 1970’s, builders began filling in other neighborhoods from the far south to the far north reaches of Chicago with affordable townhomes that offered additional amenities from the standard rental units that were typically found in the same areas. While a typical rental had limited closet space, very small bedrooms and separate galley kitchens, the new modern floor plans offered spacious bedrooms, kitchens with modern appliances and table space, central heating and air conditioning, often a basement for storage – or built out as recreational space – and parking.