Along with Scottsdale and Ashburn, Wrightwood was once a subdivision of the town of Lake. When Lake was annexed to Chicago in 1889, the population was sparse indeed and growth was slow. By the turn of the century the area began to see an influx of European immigrants from Ireland, Holland, Poland and Sweden. Soon, a dominant Irish community formed in Wrightwood around the St. Thomas More Parish. "Tommy More", as the locals called the church, became a center for Irish Catholic life in Wrightwood. Development in the neighborhood, however, was still sluggish until the post-WWII baby boom, which gave the Wrightwood region a noticeable boost in population. A number of African-American families moved to the area, creating a diverse community that was the motivation of a 1988 series in the Chicago Sun-Times by journalist Vernon Jarrett, who wrote a number of articles highlighting the neighborhood's distinction as "a model for racial harmony." The subject was echoed in a case-study conducted by the New York Times a decade later and remains a defining characteristic of Wrightwood to this day.
In 1997 the Chicago Public Library opened its Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch on the Kedzie Avenue border between the two neighborhoods. Housing over 40,000 volumes, this $3 million-dollar library is an invaluable resource to the community and further enhances Wrightwood's reputation as a family-friendly place. When the weather warms up in Chicago, Wrightwood residents can't wait to get outside and enjoy the beautiful public parkland. Hayes Park features six baseball diamonds, two soccer fields, volleyball courts, walking trails and jogging paths. The park's outdoor activities are complemented by an indoor pool, gym and fitness center.
The community sporting opportunities balance out some of the fast food goodies found in the Wrightwood neighborhood. Chicago institution, Harold's Chicken Shack has a location here and there's also Sir Chicken 2 and Sharks Fish & Chicken - which all specialize in fried food favorites. Villa Rosa Restaurant is a fine choice for pizza and pasta and Fon Fon Chinese Cuisine is popular among Wrightwood residents who can't get enough tapioca smoothies. Offering more in the way of dine-in accommodations, South China Kitchen Two features mostly Szechwan and Cantonese dishes but they do have a few Thai items on the menu as well. If it's soul food you're after, check out Dan's Soul Food & Bakery. This diner does great down-home Southern-style cooking with ribs, fried chicken and greens, but they also have an assortment of delicious baked goods, including some mouthwatering desserts. For a taste of the Caribbean, Rhythm & Spice Restaurant serves great Jamaican jerk chicken, catfish, red snapper and oxtail stew, plus a selection of traditional American staples, like chicken tenders and grilled cheese sandwiches. Rhythm & Spice is BYOB (an added bonus considering Wrightwood is a dry neighborhood!).
When Wrightwood residents want a full-on shopping spree, the Ford City Mall and Scottsdale Shopping Center are both nearby, but a little closer to home is the Westport Commons Shopping Center. This retail strip offers a Rainbow Kids, the place for tots and toddlers clothing and shoes; a Fashion Bug for women's clothing and accessories; Payless Shoe Source for the best deal on footwear in Wrightwood; and get that sporty yet fashionable look at Sports n' Fashion, where shoppers will find attractive apparel to match an active lifestyle.
Single-family homes are the name of the housing game in this southwest side residential neighborhood. Ranch houses and brick bungalows sit on large lots with green grass yards and private garages. The average price for detached real estate here is in the low $200,000s. Low-rise apartments and condos are available on Wrightwood's busier border streets, which is where you'll find most of the commercial business and public transportation. For east/west travel through Wrightwood, the 79th Street and 87th Street CTA bus routes are available and the Kedzie Avenue and Western Avenue buses provide service north and south. The Metra system also operates through the neighborhood on its South West Service Line with a stop at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue.