ABOUT THIS SITE
In 2015, Belmont Cragin embarked on a journey to create the Belmont Cragin Quality of Life Plan (QLP). The Northwest Side Housing Center held a series of community meetings to identify our community's needs, and strategies to meet them.The QLP represents the insight of over 600 residents, business owners, students, parents, elected officials, and community stakeholders.
This website serves as a hub to provide updates on the QLP's original strategies, and resources community members should know about.
ABOUT BELMONT CRAGIN
We are an evolving, predominately Latino neighborhood that retains our Eastern European roots. We will be a united, vibrant and diverse community that supports our working families as they build a better life, with affordable housing, local jobs, access to quality public education and holistic healthcare.
Belmont Cragin is evolving. Today we are a mix of long-time residents, hard-working immigrants and a variety of newcomers living together. Belmont Cragin is a neighborly part of Chicago, with resources that include good schools, blocks of modest single family homes and two- and four-flats, busy commercial corridors, and churches, nonprofits, health care providers and other local institutions dedicated to the community.
For generations, Belmont Cragin has been a relatively quiet, safe, family- oriented part of Chicago, where manufacturing jobs, a ordable homes, transportation options, good schools, parks and shopping attracted working Chicagoans to settle and start a home.
Many of these assets still define our community, but the neighborhood has also changed, bringing challenges to maintain the quality-of-life that makes Belmont Cragin so attractive—and also new opportunities to build a stronger, more vibrant community.
Belmont Cragin was annexed into Chicago in 1889 and grew over the next decades as factories and warehouses were built along the Northwestern railroad line and Grand Avenue. By 1930, the neighborhood had more than 60,000 residents, about a third foreign-born, including Irish, Polish and Italian workers. Builders met growing housing demand with bungalows, Cape Cods and two- ats, establishing much of our community’s character that remains to this day.
Continued growth after WWII included a new wave of
modest single-family homes and small apartment buildings to the west. The post-war years also saw the growth of commercial corridors along Diversey, Belmont, Fullerton, Central and Cicero avenues. The Brickyard shopping mall on our western border opened in 1976, and after a major renovation is still a major shopping destination for the Northwest Side.
As housing and commercial activity grew in Belmont Cragin, so did the other elements that make a great community. We have a solid network of public schools, including nearly a dozen elementary schools rated as a 1 by Chicago Public Schools. Riis Park and Hanson Park o er open space and opportunity for more recreational amenities. A mix of faith-based groups, social service agencies, after-school programs, health care providers, block clubs and other local organizations are dedicated to Belmont Cragin and its residents.
“All of us who worked on this plan are a diverse group of people, but our larger visions ground all of us together. When these changes come to Belmont Cragin, we can all say we were part of it.”
— James Rudyk, Northwest Side Housing Center Executive Director
With many newcomers and a mix of ethnicities and generations, in many ways, Belmont Cragin today is a community getting to know itself. We all want the same thing, however: to be a neighborhood where people want to put down roots—a great place to live, to go to school, to raise a family or open a business.
Our diversity is an asset. Belmont Cragin will
o er residents a quality of life second to none in Chicago by combining our strengths, voices and valuable contributions. The resident-led process that created this plan identifed four issues that are crucial for the future of Belmont Cragin: a ordable housing, businesses and jobs, education and youth, and health and older adults.
We know it will take new infrastructure and services to reach our vision. In Belmont Cragin, many of our children are leaders, helping guide their immigrant parents in their new country. For many families, the parents are learners as they acclimate to new language, customs and career opportunities. Our older adults, those who have watched the community change over the years, are visionaries, seeing clearly what the neighborhood needs to continue to thrive.
Our residents and existing institutions are ready
to build on their strengths in new ways. We will work together and connect with new partners and allies to create programs and systems that will make Belmont Cragin healthy, safe and prosperous for all of us.
*Special thanks to Gordon Walek from LISC for photography