Tag Archives: English garden

Field Guide to Chicago Apartments: The Garden Unit

There are many varied types of apartments in Chicago, each appealing to a different audience. In this new "Field Guide" series (updating on a sporadic basis) I hope to cover some of the local species of apartments. Learn to spot, capture, tag and, if necessary, release them back into the wild.

Today we'll be starting with the Garden Apartment and its variants, the English Garden, the Fake English, the In-Law apartment and the Duplex down.


The Chicago garden apartment (Apartmentus fundamenti) can be found throughout the city although they rarely make an appearance in the downtown area. Any apartment with the majority of its square footage at or below ground level is referred to by Chicagoans as a "garden unit." It is a regional term which can mean anything from sidewalk level to deep basements. Nearly every Chicago apartment building under 7 stories will have at least one garden unit.

Comparative Value and Appeal

Formerly used by building owners for themselves while renting out the more expensive upstairs units, garden units have become more available to the tenant pool over time as apartment buildings get bought up by outside investors and others got converted to condominiums. While gardens have long been maligned as dangerous, with higher potential for break-ins, floods and pest control problems, they have their fans. (more…)