Rogers Park and West Ridge, in Chicago’s northeast corner, contain many smaller neighborhoods within their boundaries—from the Patch in the southeast to the Jungle north of Howard to North Town and the Golden Ghetto in West Ridge. Parishes and synagogues provide other internal boundaries and identities. But if you want to start a coffee shop debate or barroom brawl, ask locals about east and west Rogers Park.
Since town father Philip Rogers owned land on both sides of Ridge, the term Rogers Park has long been applied on either side, and many people still think Rogers Park extends all the way from the lake to Western. But Rogers Park—first a village and then a Chicago neighborhood—runs only from the Lake to Ridge. According to the official map of community areas created by University of Chicago sociologists and used by the U.S. Census, everything west of Ridge is, logically if unimaginatively enough, West Ridge. And unlike Rogers Park, West Ridge extends south of Devon to Peterson and Bryn Mawr.
But as always in Chicago, the real estate agents and the cops get involved. The 24th Police District, aka the Rogers Park District, covers both neighborhoods, plus a slice of northern Edgewater, so crime statistics implicate both. To make matters worse, real estate agents began calling the West Ridge neighborhood West Rogers Park back in the 1970s, trying to capitalize on the cachet of Rogers Park’s lakefront properties and progressive politics. That misnomer still persists on the very popular Chicago neighborhoods map produced by one local real estate outfit.
But for the purposes of this special issue, vernacular definitions are trumped by the Chicago community areas map. And remember: there’s no apostrophe in Rogers Park. —Bill Savage