TRANSPORTATION: * * * (out of 4) The street-level Brown Line runs through the neighborhood; the Kennedy and Edens are a few miles west.
SCHOOLS: * * * A good private grade school (Queen of Angels) and slightly above-average (by city standards) public grade school (Waters) serve this small community.
SHOPPING: * * Residents walk east to Lincoln Square for more retail and dining offerings.
PLUS: The verdant North Branch of the Chicago River defines the neighborhood’s western boundary.

Whenever I get off the Brown Line at Rockwell, I think I should be carrying a lunch pail instead of a laptop. That’s because the neighborhood known as Rockwell Crossing feels like a quaint throwback to a time when a tired blue-collar worker would have happily returned home to this cozy community where the CTA trains clatter along at ground level.

Flanking Rockwell Street on both sides of the Brown Line platform are the few retail spaces that count as the Rockwell Crossing business district, and their occupants—a yoga studio, a bagel and coffee spot, and the Pizza Art Café—suggest that the lunch-pail days are gone. The residential blocks south of the tracks have a vintage-Chicago mix of multiflat buildings, bungalows, and handsome single-family homes—many of them with their great 1920s to 1940s details intact. Two grade schools—the diverse Waters Elementary School (public) and the century-old Queen of Angels School (Catholic)—are close by.

Rockwell Crossing amounts to only about eight square blocks, but it is nestled among a set of recently revived neighborhoods. Go westward across the Wilson Avenue Bridge (which spans the North Branch of the Chicago River) and you are in Ravenswood Manor. Back to the east are Ravenswood Gardens and Lincoln Square, where the Lincoln Avenue shopping district is one of the city’s most welcoming.