Oak Park chosen 'coolest' suburb of Chicago

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

 Thanks to sharp-eyed reader (and web browser) Dan Lauber (of River Forest) who found the following post on Thrillist, April 17, naming Oak Park as the "coolest" Chicago suburb. The list of top suburbs attached to major cities was based on the following criteria:

1) A good (or at least respectable) food/drink scene, with enough places to go close to home to not always have to trudge back into the city.

2) Not so far away from the city that the commute is awful.

3) A place with a history or its own unique elements that separate it from just planned suburban sprawl.

Lauber, who has a lot of experience in urban planning, said, "Sadly I'm not surprised that they didn't bother to note Oak Park's distinction as one of the few stable, racially integrated suburbs in the entire metropolitan area — one of Oak Park's most important claims to fame." On the other hand, he added, "Great photo of the Lake Theatre!"

Here's the blurb from the site by executive editor Matt Lynch:

Chicago, IL: Oak Park 

Population: 52,066

Where to eat/drink: Maya Del Sol, Poor Phil's, Kinslahger

Oak Park is rich with history and culture few suburbs — of any city — can match. Tour the home and studio where Frank Lloyd Wright spent much of his early career and then check out all the spectacular homes he built his neighbors up and down the street. Not far from there you'll find Ernest Hemingway's childhood home and museum. 

But what if you HATE history and culture? Fear not, you can still distract yourself browsing the cheese display at Marion Street Market before sitting down to some lamb sliders and chicken-fried mussels, downing margaritas (or rare anejos) and cochinita pibil on Maya Del Sol's sunny patio, or housing free popcorn while you ponder the 36 taps at Poor Phil's. 

Speaking of beer, Kinslahger is a new lager-centric brewery to keep an eye on. Throw in the fact that Oak Park is connected to the CTA and a shorter trip to Downtown Chicago than some of the far reaches of actual Chicago (pretty much due west of Downtown), and life is good. 

Life is good indeed. Here's the link to the entire article:


Ken Trainor

Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

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Reader Comments

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Elizabeth Titus Rexford from Oak Park  

Posted: June 4th, 2016 1:35 PM

AND, we have our own award-winning symphony orchestra here: The Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest, founded by Gladys Welge in 1931, celebrating our 85th season. Check out next year's programs: http://symphonyoprf.com/

John Butch Murtagh  

Posted: June 2nd, 2016 11:59 PM

Shouldn't us residents get credit for the Cool Award. We are the ones that pay the money to pay high taxes to make OP such a Cool place. We are also the one who sweet streets, shovel snow, an ride on very bumpy roads,

Brian Chang  

Posted: June 2nd, 2016 9:31 PM

To me, unplanned suburban sprawl is low-density automobile-oriented development comprised predominantly of detached single-family housing and large chain stores with huge parking lots, and connected by multi-lane, high-speed arterials. That describes large areas of the collar counties, but is pretty much the opposite of the development pattern in Oak Park.

James West  

Posted: June 2nd, 2016 8:33 PM

It mentions 3 places to eat, and one of them is the Village President's restaurant. The article forgets to talk about Oak Park, being a racially integrated suburb. It isn't, there are sections of Oak Park, that has a larger population of different races, so that could be the reason. Ken Trainor, anytime Oak Park, gets mentioned you are the first to enjoy it. The one thing you keep fighting is the right not to have any guns, and maybe you are right with all of the new places serving alcohol, and all of the flavors you can enjoy, or get sick on. These are the little things that take away the fact that it costs a lot of money for tax payers, although Karen Skinner, has not missed that part.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: June 2nd, 2016 5:49 PM

do we lose cool points for unplanned suburban sprawl?

Karen Skinner from Oak Park  

Posted: June 2nd, 2016 5:37 PM

Thanks. I'll have to remember this when I write the check for my taxes.

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