The Best Chicago Neighborhood for Older Adults

Chicagoans love their city. Should you move out of Chicago just because you’re getting a little older?

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The Admiral at the Lake residents Bill Hinchliff and Joyce Dugan would answer, “Absolutely not!”

Bill’s lived in the Chicago area all his life, barring time spent in the Air Force, college, and grad school. While serving as a teacher, he became intrigued by the city’s history and architecture, which led him to become a Chicago tour guide.

Joyce, a longtime Chicago resident, proudly claims Uptown as her former neighborhood. A former city worker who has also worked in
community development at Uptown United,
she now volunteers with area organizations.

Best Chicago neighborhoods for older adults

In no particular order, Bill mentions Edgewater/Andersonville, the Loop, South Loop, Near North, Lincoln Park, and Hyde Park as the best neighborhoods for older adults.

“I can’t single only one out,” he explains.

Joyce says that all the lakefront neighborhoods, from Brownsville north, offer the public transportation that is a necessity for older Chicagoans.

Criteria for selecting the best Chicago neighborhood for older adults

Bill embraced the following criteria for his choices for best neighborhoods for older adults:

  • a certain level of excitement or “action” in the neighborhood
  • shopping, restaurants, and cultural/educational activities
  • public transportation
  • proximity to nice parks
  • walkability
  • safety
  • proximity to Lake Michigan

Joyce’s list is a bit more prioritized. For her, the best older adult neighborhoods must include, in order of priority:

1. public transportation
2. walkability
3. access to entertainment
4. access to food
5. proximity to medical care
6. safety
7. access to a library

Many Chicago natives choose Edgewater/Andersonville to reside

Asked why he chose to move to the Edgewater/Andersonville area, where The Admiral at the Lake is located, Bill responds:

“I was delighted to be so close to Edgewater and within walking distance of its loveliest residential blocks and its most vibrant commercial street. However, before too long, I found myself taken with other areas nearby, because of the large South Asian presence featuring Vietnamese, Cambodia, Thai and Laotian restaurants, shops, and markets, as well as the rich history, old theaters, ballrooms, and variety of architecture.”

Joyce calls the neighborhood near The Admiral “the safest police district in the city.” Drawing from her experience as a former city worker, she maintains that “crime statistics are very subjective. They classify crime in a lot of ways that people don’t take the time to understand or which may be misleading.” For her, the real draw was being able to stay close to her friends and neighbors, quite a few of whom have moved to The Admiral at the Lake.

Highlights of the neighborhood

Local attractions are cited by both Bill and Joyce as reasons they enjoy living at The Admiral at the Lake:

  • Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is the only jazz club from the 1920s that is still operating in the same location, and it is still so popular that lines extend out into the street.
  • Lawrence and Broadway, Bryn Mawr, Aragon and Broadway, Lakewood, Balmoral, Andersonville, and Sheridan Park historic districts are all within walking distance and contain many historic structures built during the 1920s in the Art Deco, Venetian Gothic Revival and Spanish Baroque Revival styles.
  • The Aragon Ballroom boasts a stunning, Mediterranean-style dance floor, surrounded by balconies evoking Old Spain, set amidst what Bill calls “a wonderland of terracotta decoration.”
  • Edgewater Beach Apartments is the remnant of the historic hotel that was almost completely demolished in the early 1970s.
  • Castlewood Terrace is where Studs Terkel lived and is on the National Register.
  • Wilson Avenue El Station and Yard was an infamous pit for decades, but is now being completely redone, along with the surrounding commercial and residential area.
  • Graceland Cemetery is Chicago’s cemetery of the elite, both in business (Pullman, Armour, Field, McCormick, etc.) and architecture (Sullivan, Root, Burnham, Mies van der Rohe, etc.). It is also the city’s most beautifully maintained cemetery, an oasis of solitude in an area which doesn’t have many green spaces.
  • Argyle Street, which has been renamed Asia on Argyle because of the density of Southeast Asian shops and restaurants and institutions. It was recently given a major—and expensive—physical makeover with new sidewalks, street upgrades, trees and other embellishments.
  • Community gardens, promoted by local community garden organizations or individuals who love to garden, not only beautify the area, but they also offer amateur gardeners the opportunity to learn about and produce vegetables, fruits, herbs and ornamentals.
  • Weiss Memorial Hospital, a nearby hospital, offers many gerontology specialists and programs for seniors.
  • Bezazian branch of the Chicago Public Library has books, ebooks and instruction on how to use Kindles and other technology.
  • Local parks, such as Margate Park, Broadway Armory Park, and Clarendon Park, provide fitness classes, swimming and swimming classes, gyms, basketball courts, and other programs at free or almost-free prices.
  • Lincoln Park was mentioned for its green spaces, beaches, harbors, nature walks, and variety of paths for biking, walking, rollerblading and more.

Another attraction for many neighborhood residents is Lake Michigan. “In Chicago, being close to the lake is a great draw,” Bill remarks.

Neighborhood attractions near The Admiral at the Lake

Other nearby attractions include:

  • Foster Avenue Beach
  • Edgewater Historical Society Museum
  • Swedish American Museum Association
  • Saddle & Cycle Club
  • Andersonville Restaurant Row

The Admiral at the Lake’s location at West Foster Avenue and Marine Drive receives a “Very Walkable” score of 72, an “Excellent Transit” score of 75, and a “Very Bikeable” score of 87 from Walk Score.

While Bill doesn’t expect the area to become “an enclave of upscale senior citizens” any time soon, he enjoys walking, shopping, dining, and living in the area.

He says the neighborhood didn’t play a major role in his choice of The Admiral at The Lake, but “as time has gone by, the neighborhood has taken on much more importance for me.”

Joyce, on the other hand, couldn’t conceive of living anywhere else.

“We didn’t want to leave all our friends. We didn’t want to leave all the things we were familiar with. If we hadn’t had this alternative, we probably wouldn’t have moved when we did,” she says.

Think “Community”

Community is just one of the five SPICE principles that govern the lives of people all around the world, as well as at The Admiral at the Lake. Learn more about how SPICE can help you lead a fulfilling life.


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