North of Peterson


I wanted to call this blogpost Peterson Park, but not everyone in Chicago uses that name for the neighborhood north of Peterson, south of Lincoln/Devon, between Kimball and Pulaski. Some say Peterson Park ends at the North Channel east of Kedzie. Others say West Ridge runs west all the way to Pulaski. (What???)

As I discussed in an earlier post, boundaries are tricky for anyone writing about Chicago’s neighborhoods. There’s no correct answer; we must allow cool heads, common sense, and personal experience to prevail.

Dennis Briskin grew up at 6025 N. Bernard, which either is or is not in Peterson Park, but it’s what Dennis called his neighborhood. His family moved into the home in March 1947, when the neighborhood still was under development. Between 1938 and 1951,  Peterson Park went from an undeveloped area with a few houses to a neighborhood with a few empty lots. (You can see the empty lots in historic aerial photographs. If you click on the link, select “All roads” as an overlay option to locate Bernard.)

Here’s what Dennis recalls:

We lived in Peterson Park  and played line ball on Bernard, always hitting toward Peterson. We also played the stair games with the pink Spalding ball. Hit right it went far. Sometimes a ball went onto the roof of Crane’s Pharmacy on the northeast corner of  Bernard and Peterson.

My first job after I got my driver’s license (1961) was delivery boy/clerk at Crane’s, just like my two brothers before me and lots of other boys of that time. I had to learn to drive a stick shift, because the delivery car was a red Ford Fairlane with three speeds on the column.

Crane’s Pharmacy on the northeast corner of Peterson and Bernard was still going strong in my childhood during the sixties.

Sometimes north of Peterson came from south of Peterson

Like so many others I’ve interviewed from this area, Dennis’s family had family ties in the older, mostly Jewish neighborhoods to the south, Hollywood Park and Albany Park. His Briskin grandparents lived in a three-flat they owned at 5541 N. Christiana, right across from Peterson Elementary School. Dennis celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the heart of Hollywood Park, at Congregation Shaare Tikvah. His father’s parents (Max and Anna Briskin) were among the founders of the synagogue back in the mid-forties when it opened its doors in a Bryn Mawr Avenue storefont. One year in the early fifties, Dennis’s grandfather served as the synagogue’s president. Dennis’s grandparents on his mother’s side lived in Albany Park.


Larry and Richard (in the baby carriage) Briskin, winter 1943.

When Dennis’ family moved into Peterson Park, there was no Solomon Elementary School. Kids living north of Peterson went to Peterson Elementary School and the school boundaries shifted around for more than a decade. In grades 1-5, Dennis shuttled back and forth from Peterson to Solomon, finally staying at Solomon from grade 5 on, which would have been about 1955-56. He graduated from grade 8 at Solomon in June 1959. The boundaries shifted again sometime in the early to mid-sixties, when kids who lived north of Peterson but east of Kimball were taken out of Solomon’s boundaries and put back into Peterson’s.

During my years of grade school and high school the school boundaries were never changed. In my mind, the neighborhoods were distinct and the boundary was carved in stone. The distance between Hollywood Park and Peterson Park  isn’t just the width of Peterson Avenue. Bungalows like the ones in these photos of Dennis’s brother, Larry, on Christiana, aren’t to be found north of Peterson.


Certain houses south of Peterson wouldn’t look out of place north of Peterson, but taken as a whole the neighborhoods, at least to me, look and feel different. As a child I noticed but couldn’t have explained the difference.

Where Hollywood Park seems to have a foot in both the urban and suburban worlds, depending on which block you’re passing, Peterson Park is pure suburb. How can you tell? Attached garages are far more common in Peterson Park than in Hollywood Park, as are two-car garages.


Left: Dennis Briskin. Right: Richie and Larry Briskin on N. Bernard

I’m not saying all the houses south of Peterson are bungalows. There are some spectacular, large houses in Hollywood Park, especially on the corners of the east-west streets. As a general trend, however, the housing stock transitions from two-flats, courtyard buildings and bungalows to larger single-family homes as you head north into areas developed post-World War II.

 Thanks to Dennis Briskin for sharing his family photos. And check out my followup, Just South of Peterson.


Richie, Sophye (their mother), Dennis, and Larry Briskin intheir backyard on Bernard.

27 Responses to North of Peterson

  1. Donald Cherry October 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Lovely photos! I love these posts, Frances. Keep up the good work.

  2. Frances Archer October 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Thank you. I’m lucky to have such generous contributors who share their family photographs.

  3. Jerry Pritikin October 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I was wondering if the Briskin boys had any relatives who owned the dry goods store on the east side of the 4800 N. Kedzie, just north of the Hollywood Rollar Skating Rink. My dad bought a penny arcade slot machine from him. My brother and I discovered that 1943 zinc penny would open the trap the balls rolled into after using the 3 balls, and we could play for hours without putting anymore pennies in.

  4. Bonnie McGrath October 16, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    these pictures are WONDERFUL… thanks for bringing this all to life, frances!

  5. renee chernoff October 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    as always, Frances, another wonderful trip down memory lane of my childhood. Keep up the wonderful work you do to keep all of us North Siders forever and uniquely connected to our lives during those years..

  6. Frances Archer October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Thank you, Renee. Nice to hear from you. Have to get some of your stories in here.

  7. Frances Archer October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Bonnie, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them. I have a few more I will publish.

  8. Frances Archer October 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Jerry, I will find out if there is a connnection. Hope all is well with you. Always enjoy reading your memories.

  9. barbara pierce October 18, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I loved this it brought back such memories. I grew up across from Peteson School also but on Kimball. My family went to Shara Tikvah. We lived there from 1956 until I got married in 1969. What a great neighborhood.

  10. Frances Archer October 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Barbara and leaving such a nice comment. What street did you live on?

  11. barbara pierce October 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    5528 north kimball

  12. Howard Tolchin October 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks for the wonderful memories. I lived at 5542 N. Kimball Ave from 1950 -55, then moved a block down to the SE corner of Kimball & Catalpa, across of Peterson school. Went to Peterson, Von Steuben (graduated early 6/63) and went to Bradley University. Finally moved to Skokie when I got married in 1968.

    The memories and friends from those days are still with me.

  13. Frances Archer October 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Hi, Howard: If you lived right on the SE corner of Kimball and Catalpa, then you lived in the building that went up on the site of the former Victory Garden shown in this post: Because it’s Earth day: Stay in touch and send in your memories. If you do come across any good photos, I’ll have to email you so you can send as an attachment. Just use the contact form on the blog to send me a note and I’ll reply. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Frances Archer October 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Barbara, look at the two photos of softball games at the Peterson playground. They were taken in the early sixties, we think, about the time you still lived on Kimball: Grounds for play

  15. Jerry Schecter October 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Thank You Francis. I can’t get enough of this web site. The pictures and stories are wonderful. Earlier posts today were were from my sister Barbara Pierce and my good friend Howard Tolchin. I lived directly across from Peterson School from 1955 until I was married in1969. Iplayed in the school yard from sun up until sun down all summer, I remeber shooting hoops with Dennis Briskman on more than one occasion.

  16. Carol Saper Barstow October 19, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Another great story! I love revisiting every detail of my old neighborhood and all the areas surrounding. I really appreciate what a unique and special place it was — that magic mixture of urban and suburban. The mention of Crane’s Pharmacy brought back good memories — When I was very young (probaby about 4 ), my Mom and I would take walks along Peterson Avenue while my sisters were in school (at Peterson School). We would go into the furniture store and and I also remember a store with paintings and frames. And if I had been very good and my Mom was in a good mood, she would offer to take me to Crane’s and buy me an orange push-up from the ice cream freezer. (I’ll bet it cost about a dime!) It was my favorite treat in the world! Thanks again for the good memories, Frances!

  17. Frances Archer October 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Hi, Carol. Nice to hear from you again. I forgot about getting ice cream treats at Crane’s but now I do remember that freezer. Not everyone remembers that Miss Carol’s dance studio was on Peterson before she moved to Bryn Mawr, and I was probably one of the few girls who wished she hadn’t moved. The Peterson location was closer to home. There was not a lot to explore on Peterson, but we enjoyed what we had. I’ve mentioned before the empty lots where we used to catch fireflies.

  18. barbara pierce October 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    I loved the last story. I remembered that my sister went to Miss Carol when she moved to Bryn Mawr.

  19. Frances Archer October 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    Thanks, Barbara. We heard Miss Carol passed away a year ago. She was living in Texas.

  20. Christine Hancock March 7, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Great story Frances and I loved the photos!

  21. Bob Bermant March 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    My family moved to 6211 N. Bernard in 1953 when I was in 8th grade. I spent a semester at Peterson which for grades 7-8 were in a first floor wing of Von. I graduated Von in June 1957, where I had been a Cobego. We had juniors but I have no idea when the last Cobegos existed. I remember Crane’s Drugs very well as my good friend married one of their daughters. At this time, there are still 15 of us Cobegos who get together annually for a 4 day trip to various parts of the country. It used to be a hiking trip but with age there are fewer of the guys hiking.

    The area around Lincoln Ave. had one of the earliest shopping centers in the US, Lincoln Village. Across Lincoln was the Village Fishery which had the most fantastic fried shrimp I have ever tasted. There is only one place I have ever eaten fried shrinp where the taste is close to it and that is in Malibu, where my family and my daughter in law’s family celebrate Father’s Day almost annually.

    I have the most fantastic memories of my 4 years at Von and am blessed to not only see the guys every year, and some more frequently, but also a number of other classmates as well, who are the same down to earth people they were 55 years ago. It was a truly different time and place.

  22. Frances Archer March 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Hi, Bob. Thanks for your comment and sorry it took me a while to post it — I was buried in work. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the Village Fishery, so thanks for the contribution. Did the Crane family live in the area?

  23. Renee Fishman Harris May 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    As always, Frances, another wonderful trip down memory lane of my childhood. Keep up the wonderful work you do to keep all of us North Siders forever and uniquely connected to our lives during those years.. I lived 5723 N. Bernard St. My father always loved to walk to Shul
    He was a Physician (Dr. Jerome Fishman) Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat for 50 years at 30 N.Michigan Ave. Chicago
    He loved people, and a dedicated physician to the community.. After serving in WW2 as a Captian- Physician he and my mother bought a two-flat on Bernard St. My grandparents lived on the corner of Hollywood and Bernard St. Most of my parents brothers and sisters lived in Hollywood Park.. I have such fond memories of being a close family all coming from Europe and settling in Chicago…Fondly Renee Fishman

  24. Frances Archer May 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Hi Renee, thanks for visiting. So glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog.

  25. barbara pierce May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I loved your comnents as I lived at 5528 north kimball. Loved the area and I worked for doctors at 30 north Michigan. What a great time that was.

  26. Frances Archer May 24, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Thank you Renee for this lovely history of your family. I really enjoyed the daily ritual of watching our neighbors walking to shul. We belonged to a reform synagogue in West Rogers Park, and I really envied the kids who could walk to shul with friends. On some Saturdays I would go with my neighbors to services to the shul at Peterson between Central Park and Drake. A funny thing happen when I was about 13. I saw a man there who I thought was my Zeide. It couldn’t have been, because he lived in Pennsylvania. But this man looked exactly like my grandfather. Turns out he had the same last name as my grandfather, except spelled differently by one letter. After some research, we found that the families were related but no one knew exactly how.

  27. Bonnie McGrath May 24, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Frances, that story about your grandfather and his doppelgänger is amazing!!! i love it.

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