Friday, April 7, 2017

Chicago to North Shore Real Estate and Neighborhoods, A Glimpse of Wilmette, Part 1

Wilmette has always been about its schools, lakefront,  park district, and close proximity to the city! Every neighborhood, regardless of price range, shares in the benefits of  top quality schools, Gillson Park, The Wallace Bowl, the gorgeous beach and lake front, Centennial Pool and Ice Rink, the "L" train, the "Metra", and the beautiful view of the B'Hai Temple. Prices range from $235,000 to 3.2 million +

My old house, 2017
Part one begins in West Wilmette. Why? When I was a mere 4 years old, my parents told me we were moving to Wilmette. We joined the many newcomers to the new house boom in West Wilmette.  Many first time homeowners were able to buy a house in one of the best school districts in Chicagoland, maybe the state! We were west of the Edens Expressway, as far west in West Wilmette as you could go without crossing the tracks to Glenview. The houses and neighborhood have changed little. The houses are primarily 3 bedroom split-levels or ranches with 1 bathroom, and no garage. Minor additions over the years have included detached garages, 1/2 or full baths in the basement, dishwashers, air conditioning, and general updates and landscaping. Because of the smaller than average lots, there has not been a lot of tear-down activity.
My house, "The Big Snow" 1967
We lived in the middle of Laramie, across from the landmark of the west side of town, "The Tank",  (water holding tank for the Village of Wilmette).  

Behind "The Tank" stood an abandoned building filled with stray cats, and beyond that were the railroad tracks. As kids, the three blocks between the tracks and the expressway was our neighborhood. Summers weren't structured like they are now. We would ride our bikes, or walk around the neighborhood until sunset. In front of the "The Tank" was "The Field" (currently the site of the Public Works building). In summer, "The Field" was converted to a makeshift baseball diamond, and the tracks were for exploring, looking for wild raspberries, and occasionally putting a penny on the tracks and taking the flattened piece home for a souvenir. In winter, "The Field" would often flood and freeze, creating a wonderful natural ice rink. Our house across the street posed as our warming shelter and snack bar!
West Park, a block north on Laramie, was added later, as an attempt to lure the kids away from "the field"  to a proper playground! We had metal monkey bars, a metal slide, and an assortment of swings and equipment. It was great fun. There was also a metal taboggan slide off to the corner, which I never tried due to parents' warnings that there would be immediate death or horrific injury upon use! Latest changes to West Park: Playground equipment now conforms to modern safety standards to avoid cuts, bruises, broken bones from falls, and burned skin from metal slides! There is a Paddle Ball court, a community garden, and an artificial turf baseball diamond (I heard on good authority that back in the day, kids actually poured gasoline on the grass to burn the diamond and

When I was about 5 or 6 years old,  I was allowed to walk a few blocks to the Dairy Queen at Lake and Laramie. It still looks and tastes as it did long ago! The charm of Wilmette lies in what remains the same, despite the changes!!

When I was the seasoned age of about 8, I was allowed to walk east on Lake Ave, past Loyola Academy, on the sidewalk over the Edens Expressway, to Edens Plaza. The overpass was a fun spot to wave to Truckers below....What a thrill when they beeped to say hi! Edens Plaza was, and  still is, a favorite destination and hang-out for kids east and west of the highway. Many friends had their first job at Edens Plaza!  Carson Pirie Scott is the only original store left in the mall. Woolworths, (and the lunch counter with their awesome french fries),  Stineway Pharmacy, The Music Store,  the original Schmitt's bakery, Phillip's Shoe Repair, are all distant memories now, replaced by Walgreens, Bed Bath & Beyond, Starbucks, etc....!!! Anyone that shopped at Carson's in the 70's to the mid 80's might even remember my mom, Marilyn Chesler,  one of the most helpful and friendly saleswomen in Blouses, Junior Sportswear, and the Men's Dept.!!!

No discussion about Wilmette would be complete without mentioning the Wilmette Public Golf Course west of Laramie, on the north side of Lake. It had many incarnations in that last  90+ years, from public course, to private, back to public course, from fire damaged to renovated, and a great place for a wedding or other private party!

Last but night least, is Meiers Tavern....technically in Glenview, but visited by many Wilmette residents when I was growing up because bars were not permitted in Wilmette at the time!  It was the go-to-place for  adults,  made famous partially because of their delicious burgers and tator tots, and partially because it was the only place to grab a beer!!! As they say in real estate, Location, Location, Location!

Contact me if you would like to know what is selling in your neighborhood, or if you want to take a tour of Wilmette to find your dream home. Then we can stop for a burger, tots, and a DAB on tap at Meier's Tavern!  847-409-1550
For over 25 years we have been the realtors of choice from Chicagoland to Dairyland.

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