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2016 Sites

Explore 200 cool places all over Chicago, from iconic Downtown skyscrapers to hidden gems in the city's diverse neighborhoods and suburbs.

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After the devastation brought by the Chicago Fire of 1871, the central business district, known affectionately as “the Loop,” was rebuilt throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. This process gave birth to the skyscraper through the use of the steel structural skeleton. Today, downtown Chicago is a vibrant residential and commercial district famous worldwide for its innovative and iconic high-rises, boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park.

Bridgeport / Back of the Yards

Formerly known as Hardscrabble, Bridgeport was created to house the workers who built the 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal. The adjacent community housed the Union Stock Yards—once the world’s largest livestock processing, distribution and meatpacking facility. “Back of the Yards” housed many of the Irish and German immigrants who worked in the slaughterhouses and factories. Today, Bridgeport boasts numerous artist galleries and coffee shops, while Back of the Yards is home to some of the most cutting-edge sustainable industry and technology in Chicago.


Technically speaking, Edgewater is the newest of Chicago's 77 official "community areas," having split from Uptown in 1980. But in reality, the neighborhood predates the city’s original community area system. In 1886, a real estate developer purchased land in what was then considered a suburb of the city to create a new subdivision. Proximity to the lake and public transit turned Edgewater into a booming residential neighborhood that offered the amenities of both city life and a beach-side vacation town.


Once known as "Junction Grove" for the railroad lines that crisscrossed the area, Englewood became part of Chicago in 1889. The original home of Cook County Normal School (later Chicago State University), this large neighborhood has experienced near-constant demographic change. Today, it is predominantly an African American neighborhood and residents have recently renewed efforts to revitalize the business district near 63rd and Halsted. In 2016, Englewood hosted a meet-up of more than 100 graffiti artists. Their “Absolute Freedom” project can be found along 59th Street between Damen and Western avenues.


Evanston is Chicago's lakefront suburban neighbor to the north. It is the focal point of a group of suburban communities known as the "North Shore." Home to Northwestern University, Evanston has always retained the distinctive character of a quaint university town despite its bustling, urban central business district and a population of 75,000. Evanston is the long-time home of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and was birthplace of the 19th-century Temperance Movement.

Garfield Park / North Lawndale

These communities are home to two of the west side's three public parks that were laid out by William Le Baron Jenney and re-designed by Jens Jensen. The former Central Park—renamed in 1881 after the assassination of President Garfield—features a gold-domed field house and the stunning Garfield Park Conservatory. South Park—renamed Douglas Park after Senator Stephen A. Douglas—sits just blocks from the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. complex in North Lawndale.

Gold Coast / Near North Side

As one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the country, the Gold Coast has been home to Chicago’s civic and business elite for more than a century. It is particularly notable for its late 19th-century mansions, many of which have been repurposed as cultural institutions. The neighborhood includes works by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dankmar Adler and Benjamin Marshall, among others. Just blocks to the west, the former Cabrini-Green neighborhood is in the early stages of redevelopment.

Jefferson Park / Portage Park

Jefferson Township was settled as early as the 1830s. It was officially established in 1850 and encompassed a large portion of Chicago's northwest side along the "North West Plank Road"—now Milwaukee Avenue. The intersection of Irving Park Road, Milwaukee Avenue and Cicero Avenue (known as "six corners") was once the largest commercial business district in Chicago outside of the Loop. The area was annexed by Chicago in 1889. Today, it's home to the largest Polish community in Chicago.


The large “community area” of Lakeview is almost a city unto itself. The former Township of Lakeview was Chicago's northern neighbor until annexation in 1889. With nearly 100,000 residents, Lakeview includes several of Chicago's most well-known neighborhoods, entertainment districts and cultural attractions. Highlights include Wrigley Field, Boystown, Graceland Cemetery and Chicago's largest off-Loop theater district.

Lincoln Park

This neighborhood shares its name with the sprawling lakefront park that was renamed in 1865 to honor the late Abraham Lincoln. The neighborhood is home to several cultural and educational institutions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and DePaul University. Today, Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's most densely-populated and affluent communities and it features an upscale shopping corridor along Armitage.

Oak Park

Chicago's suburban neighbor to the west is world-renowned for its residential architecture and strong association with architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Oak Park split from Cicero Township in 1902 and was linked to Chicago by the Lake Street Elevated (now CTA Green Line). With a population of 52,000, the "worlds largest village" may contain more historic architectural sites per square mile than any other—it has hundreds of homes designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, George Maher, Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummund, E. E. Roberts and John Van Bergen.

Open House Chicago in Oak Park is presented by Vantage Oak Park

Vantage Oak Park

South Loop / Prairie Avenue

The South Loop was the city's most fashionable residential area in the late 1800s. It featured more than 90 of the finest mansions in the city, including those of George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner and Philip Armour. Prairie Avenue was known as "Millionaire's Row." After an industrial phase in the 20th century, the area has reverted to an upscale Chicago neighborhood that is anchored by several remaining Gilded-Age mansions.

South Shore

In the 1880s, several wealthy Chicagoans were asked to literally move their homes to make way for the 1893 World’s Fair in Jackson Park. The beautiful homes and apartment buildings that were constructed along South Shore Drive and in the Jackson Park Highlands thus created this residential neighborhood. The community is currently undergoing significant revitalization—especially on the Lake Michigan coast—including a visionary redevelopment of the former U.S. Steel Works site.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s partnership with the South Shore community is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

Allstate logo

West Town

The greater Near Northwest Side of Chicago has long been a complex puzzle of distinct neighborhoods with constantly changing cultural identities and shifting boundaries. Enclaves such as the Polish Triangle, Noble Square, Pulaski Park, Wicker Park and the East Village all retain characteristics of their storied pasts, but they have recently undergone significant gentrification.

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