Walking Tour of Buena Park

Take a self-guided tour of the best of Buena Park.

Take a fascinating walk through Buena Park which includes historic landmarks, exquisite architecture, neighborhood haunts and notorious places from the past transformed into today’s local fixtures. And while the Maher mansions tend to receive a lot of the focus (and for good reason, they are majestic) there is so much to Buena Park that creates such a vibrant place to live, work and play. Throughout this tour, you’ll get to see what a laboratory of architecture the neighborhood truly is—from prohibition hideaways to Mad Men-era modern architecture to contemporary changes that continue to be woven into the fabric of this Chicago neighborhood.

Suggested route: Start at the corner of Marine Drive and Irving Park and walk west.

The American Islamic College. 640 E. Irving

Originally built as Immaculata High School, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  The building now contains the neighborhood’s only mosque. It offers a variety of courses, including Arabic calligraphy and Oud.

The Pattington. 600 to 700 Irving Park Rd

This elegant, neo-classical courtyard building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was the largest apartment complex in Chicago when it was built in 1904. It was designed by architect David E. Postle.

Look for the shoe repair guy tucked away downstairs at corner of Irving and Clarendon

Brennemann School.  4251 N. Clarendon

Designed by Bertrand Goldberg (who also designed Marina City) in 1962,  Brenneman originally consisted of a series of individual domed units, which could be identified by a child as “schoolhouses.” Unfortunately, the concrete construction material was no match for Chicago weather, and the design was modified over the years.

While you are on Clarendon… pay attention to the big vintage brick buildings throughout the neighborhood – they were designed as ‘resort hotels’ for when Uptown/Buena Park was a nightlife and leisure destination in the early decades of the 20th century.

Brennemann Elementary School

4310 N. Clarendon.

Apartment building where infamous Chicago gangster John Dillinger hid out in a third-story, six room apartment with his girlfriend Evelyn Frechette and gang member Harry Pierpont.

4310 N. Clarendon

Architect Stanley Tigerman’s first high-rise.  With its stunning views provided by floor-to-ceiling windows and an open floor plan, Tigerman’s classic modern design could compete with any apartment buildings lining Chicago’s  Gold Coast. 

Imperial Towers High Rise.  4300 N Marine.

In the early 1980s, a made-for-television movie, “Through Naked Eyes,” was filmed on location here. Featuring David Soul and Pam Dawber, the plot concerns a flutist (Soul) who develops a waving relationship with a woman who lives in the facing tower. About the time he is to meet her in person, there are a number of homicides in the neighborhood and all leads for the killer point to the flutist. In the final scene, he is apprehended by detectives just as he’s to enter the woman’s apartment.  Imperial Towers is the third star of this dramatic masterpiece!

Peace Garden. Buena and the park.

This idyllic spot dates from 1930s when Lake Shore Drive was extended north and the Lincoln Park/landfill added. It was designed “to give a cool resting place and retreat of scenic beauty to mothers and children, and others who wish to enjoy it.’

Walt Disney Magnet School. 4140 N. Marine Dr.

Opened in the 1970s, this was the first magnet school in the City of Chicago—attracting students from across the city. It was built on the site of the Marine Hospital, which is how Marine Drive got its name.

705 W. Buena. 

Childhood home of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Buena Avenue – reported former site of a Frank Lloyd Wright home – likely now where the back of the 720 Gordon Terrace high rise fills the block.

Uptown Library. 929 W. Buena.

One of 80 libraries in the Chicago Public Library System.  Stop in and pick up a book, movie, CD, fishing pole, museum pass or all sorts of information and expertise from their librarians.

The former Nick’s Uptown. 4015 N. Sheridan Rd.

Now shuttered, this former popular bar is an example of Egyptian revival style.  It is currently owned by Thorek, sitting in limbo, and an example of how fragile our architectural heritage is.

Ginkgo Gardens.  4055 N. Kenmore.

Founded in 1994 as a response to local hunger issues, this organic community garden—all volunteer staffed—grows approximately 1,500 pounds of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers each year, all of which gets donated to Uptown-area not-for-profit organizations.

4052 N Kenmore.

Built in 1891, this William Le Baron Jenney designed tudor row house is on the National Register of Historic Places

Pensacola Place. 4343 N Hazel.

Buena Park’s second Stanley Tigerman design, from 1981.  Home of the Jewel and World Gym.  Keep your eyes on this one – it was recently acquired by Waterton Properties who promise to put a lot of money into sprucing it up.

And if you want a bite or a brew….go where the locals go: El Palmar Mexican restaurant on Irving just west of Sheridan or The Bar on Buena. Fun fact: The Bar on Buena is the site of a former speakeasy.