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Explore 181 distinctive Chicago Neighborhoods
Through travel magazine-quality descriptions, thousands of photos, online videos and our exclusive Chicago Explorer interactive map and business directory.
Search by neighborhood name or select an area from the map for neighborhood profiles and useful info, including historical background, park locations, community culture, demographic data, housing market stats, designated landmarks, entertainment venues, area events, resources, commerce, schools and much more.
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Whether you are relocating or local, this Chicago Neighborhood Guide will help you find your way to everything Chicago has to offer: Chicago's Lake Michigan coastline delivers more than 18 miles of lakeshore bicycling, walking and skating paths and the Chicago area boasts over 9,000 restaurants. And don't forget, the Chicago shopping scene along the Magnificent Mile is world-class. Learn all there is to know about your favorite Chicago Sport team and find out what Chicago bars will have the game on TV, or see what shows are coming to the city's theaters.
You'll also discover info on Chicago real estate and Chicago relocation, in case you're planning on moving to the Windy City. Check out the housing options and resources in each of the Chicago neighborhoods. Look up places you might want to live and view a Chicago map for all the area amenities - everything from Chicago hospitals to Chicago transportation.
Chicago's modern cityscape of iconic skyscrapers and tree-lined waterfront evolved from a long history of architectural firsts, forward-thinking city planners and a concerted effort to merge metropolitan life with the natural beauty of the land. Whether you see that skyline on a three-by-five postcard or catch a glimpse of the Sears Tower from a spot along the 22 miles of lakeshore, there's no mistaking this city's distinctive profile. And beyond the stretch of beaches and high-rise offices lies a diverse population of residents that compose the heart and soul of this town of 2.8 million. A multicultural community from around the country and all over the world has found their home in this city, shaping the sprawling urban center into over 180 separate Chicago neighborhoods.
It's hard to imagine, but Chicago began as mere village of settlers along the icy waters of Lake Michigan back in the 1830s. As a popular passage for travelers and merchants traversing between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Chicago was quick to develop into the Midwestern transportation and commercial hub. The introduction of major railroads to the area and the increasing traffic of ships through the city's waterways added to the small port's recognition as a key centralized nexus between the eastern and western coasts of the country. While mercantilism, trade and shipping was streaming into the growing metropolis near the water's edge, tiny enclaves of pioneers and farmers started to pop up around the outskirts of the bustling commercial center - precursors to the mélange of Chicago neighborhoods that would later be embraced by the far-reaching city limits.
Now most have heard the fabled tale of Mrs. O'Leary's cow, the one who kicked over a lantern and started a blaze that burnt down a third of Chicago in 1871. Whether or not the legend is true, the Great Fire changed the face of Chicago - a transformation seen throughout the city and neighborhoods to this day in its architecture, grid-like layout and tremendous amount of lakefront parkland. Even though the flames destroyed much of downtown, Chicagoans are resilient, and after the fire they didn't hesitate to start the rebuilding process - with strict codes against using flammable material such as wood to guide the construction of new housing and buildings. Today, you'll still notice a large portion of Chicago's structures are made of brick and stone, and even new developments have continued the tradition with a modern spin on the vintage brownstone walk-ups and courtyard residential complexes.
The age of vertical construction also emerged out of this time period as revolutionary architects and structural engineers such as Louis Sullivan, William Holabird and Martin Roche, Daniel Burnham, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright took full advantage of the "blank canvas" of Chicago's downtown, erecting what many call the "first skyscraper" - although it was only 10 stories tall. Other steel-frame high-rise towers soon followed with some of the world's tallest buildings now in the midst of the city's downtown vicinity - and even loftier plans underway as we speak. While the famed Sears Tower currently tops the charts in both Chicago and the U.S. for height, the new Fordham Spire, a futuristic twisting glass condominium/hotel on the lakefront of Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, will soar 550 feet over the Sears after its completion.
Of course, not all of Chicago's buildings are record-setting monuments. High-rise condominiums do span the length of the shoreline both to the north and south of downtown, but the rest of the city is mainly occupied by mid- and low-rise edifices and one- and two-story homes.
Neighborhoods just north of the Loop (which is centered about the area south of where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan), are characterized by tree-shaded streets and rows of stately townhouses - the majority divided into flats, although many are maintained as single-family residences. Vintage courtyard condominiums and converted apartment buildings also line the blocks, while new construction and rehab projects continue to revive older structures and provide homebuyers with modern living spaces close to downtown. Northern Chicago neighborhoods along the water's edge such as Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Edgewater and East Rogers Park have the added bonus of breathtaking lakefront parks, marinas, golf courses and beaches.
Chicago's south side is quickly becoming a trendy hotspot for first-time buyers and the young working class as its traditionally industrial district is converted into luxury lofts and brand new residential condominiums. While maintaining the area's rich cultural history and landmark sites, real estate developers and community organizations have transformed this once dilapidated section of Chicago into a thriving, desirable place to live. A long stretch of pristine public parkland also runs along the shoreline connecting the South Loop, Douglas, Oakland, Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods to the Loop and beyond with an extensive pedestrian trail and bike path.
As you get further out from the Loop and the lake, detached single-family homes become more common - complete with front and back yards and private garages. Many Chicago neighborhoods matured from early townships and settlements established by European immigrants and pioneering individuals. Throughout the years these small communities were annexed into the city, becoming an official part of Chicago's widespread scope. Influenced by strong cultural ties and traditional American values, each neighborhood seems to hold its own unique identity that adjusts with the changing times. While you're sure to find rows of tightly-packed, classic Chicago bungalows in many of these far south, west and north side areas, homeowners will also discover large Victorian homes and more contemporary residential designs set on sprawling green lots.
Whether your ideal home is in a sleek, urban loft-style space on the twentieth floor overlooking the water or in a simple one-level house with your own front porch and lawn, Chicago's many neighborhoods are sure to hold the key to that picture perfect home you've always dreamed of.