Average house price: $314,784
Transportation * * * (out of 4) Well situated to both CTA and main urban thoroughfares
Schools * * * A number of public and private grade schools serve the neighborhood, including the standout Sheridan (elementary) Math & Science Academy.
Shopping * * * Bridgeport is strong on dining; for retail, residents can head up to the new Roosevelt Road shopping centers.
Plus: White Sox baseball and a budding gallery district

Over the past decade, an influx of artists and bargain-hunting homeowners has been adding a new layer to Bridgeport’s old-line ethnic working class. The newcomers are drawn by the neighborhood’s proximity to the Loop and public transportation, as well as by the mix of old ethnic restaurants and younger, artier places, such as the Zhou B. Art Center (and café) on 35th Street. One of the city’s most unlikely parks is here, too: the lovely 27-acre Stearns Quarry Park, a cleaned-up old quarry that was once a dump but now serves as a green space and urban fishing hole.

Most of the new housing that went up in the area during the now-defunct building boom took over old warehouses or industrial sites, which means that longtime residents haven’t been pushed out yet. The slowdown in the real-estate market has left a lot of the new housing empty, but when the market picks up again, Bridgeport will still have the attributes that attracted builders in the first place: its Near South Side location; a slew of onetime industrial blocks ready for renewal; a rich assortment of public and private schools; nearby U.S. Cellular Field; and the Schulze & Burch bakery plant, which sends a homey cinnamon or chocolate aroma wafting over the neighborhood around 35th Street and the South Branch of the Chicago River.