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Explore 350+ cool places all over Chicago, from iconic downtown skyscrapers to hidden gems in the city's diverse neighborhoods and suburbs.

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Downtown

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 commercial--and, increasingly, residential--district famous worldwide for its innovative and iconic high-rises, elegant boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park.

Andersonville

Andersonville’s roots extend back to the 1850s when immigrant Swedish farmers started moving north into what was then a distant suburb of Chicago. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, wooden homes were outlawed in Chicago. Immigrants who could not afford to build homes of stone or brick began to move outside of the city’s northern limits. This migration continued through the early 20th century, as the residential streets surrounding Clark Street densified. The businesses, schools, and churches all reflected the Swedish community. To counteract the neighborhood’s sharp decline and depopulation in the postwar decades, Andersonville was rededicated to its Swedish heritage in a ceremony attended by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. Andersonville remains one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish descent in the United States, but its residents and businesses today represent a wide array of cultures including Korean, Mexican, and Lebanese. It is also a center of Chicago’s LGBTQ community.

Austin

Once part of Cicero Township, Austin was involuntarily annexed into Chicago in 1899 over political disagreements with neighboring Oak Park. Remaining pre-annexation structures, including parks, churches, gracious homes and a fire station harken back to Austin's suburban origins. In the 1920s, ornate apartment and commercial buildings popped up along major thoroughfares like Lake Street, Central Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. The neighborhood's centerpiece, Columbus Park, was laid out by Jens Jensen in the 1920s. Though the neighborhood has faced several challenging decades of disinvestment, many organizations are working together for positive change - including the release of a Quality of Life Plan for the neighborhood in fall 2018.

Avondale

Avondale is a diverse working-class area on the northwest side characterized by a low-rise housing stock of two-flats, bungalows and workers cottages. Primary commercial corridors along Elston and Belmont feature a mix of retail and light-industrial uses. Long known as an immigrant, and especially Polish, neighborhood, in recent years Avondale has welcomed new bars, restaurants and infill residential construction - a byproduct of rapid development in Logan Square, immediately to the south.

Back of the Yards

Back of the Yards, so named for its proximity to the former Union Stock Yards--once the world's largest livestock processing, distribution and meatpacking facility--housed many of the Irish and German immigrants who worked in the slaughterhouses and factories. Bordering Bridgeport and McKinley Park and sharing in those neighborhoods' particular blend of quiet residential streets and old factory complexes, today Back of the Yards is home to some of the most cutting-edge sustainable industry and technology in Chicago.

Beverly

Beverly developed slightly later than its neighbor, Morgan Park, but it too was greatly impacted by the addition of the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad line. Beverly Hills station opened at 91st Street in 1889, and the community north of 107th Street along the Blue Island Ridge eventually took the name Beverly. The biggest residential boom took place in the 1920s, and many large Revival-style homes from the period remain, built on deep wooded lots atop rolling hills. 95th Street was established as--and remains--an important commercial artery. Despite being annexed to Chicago by 1890, the community has retained its own small-town identity for many decades.

Bridgeport

Formerly known as Hardscrabble, Bridgeport was established to house the workers who built the 1848 Illinois and Michigan Canal. Five Chicago mayors have called Bridgeport home, going back to Edward Joseph Kelly in the 1930s and 40s. Today, Bridgeport boasts a vibrant arts community and numerous cafes and restaurants. The neighborhood is a melting pot and one of the most diverse areas of Chicago, with descendants of the early Irish, Italian and Lithuanian communities mingling with first and second generation Mexican- and Chinese-Americans.

Bronzeville

One of the nation's most significant African-American communities sits just south of Downtown. During the Great Migration the area became a hotspot for jazz music. It is linked to cultural and social advances such as the Civil Rights movement, Negro League Baseball and Black History Month. Due to its affluent past, Bronzeville contains some of Chicago's most distinguished residential architecture and one of the largest concentrations of historic mansions in the city. Efforts are underway to spur economic development that builds on this rich legacy.

Edgewater

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 designations. 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, and it retains this dual character today.

Englewood

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. Residents and institutions, faced with the effects of decades of disinvestment, have renewed efforts to address civic challenges and revitalize the business district near 63rd and Halsted, once among the busiest in the city.

Evanston

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

Garfield Park is anchored by its namesake park, a centerpiece of William Le Baron Jenney's West Park and Boulevard System. 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. The neighborhood consists of east and west halves separated by the park and featuring a remarkable collection of ornate 19th Century Greystones. These homes were built at a time when well-to-do Chicagoans flocked to the area looking for larger lots, less congestion and access to green space, all amenities the neighborhood offers to this day.

Gold Coast

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. Historic churches and cultural institutions also call the elegant neighborhood home.

Hyde Park

In 1853, Hyde Park was established as a modest commuter suburb with frequent train service to downtown. In the 1890s, the combined effects of annexation to the City, the World’s Columbian Exposition and the establishment of the University of Chicago triggered a wave of development. The neighborhood was not immune to South Side disinvestment from the 1950s on, though the University's presence and proximity to the lake and parks helped to moderate its impact. Today, Hyde Park is undergoing rapid change linked to significant new commercial development, ongoing expansion of the University and plans for an Obama Presidential Center.

Irving Park

Irving Park began with Charles T. Race’s initial subdivision in the 1870s. The bucolic railroad suburb, named for author Washington Irving, was an instant hit with a wealthier set and grew rapidly. Chicago annexed Irving Park as part of Jefferson Township in 1889, and shortly thereafter streets were outfitted with pavement, lighting, and public transportation. A residential boom between 1895 and 1914 added more than 5,000 new buildings. New structures changed the housing composition of the area and diversified its architecture. Today distinct areas of Irving Park are defined by their preserved vintage housing stock: The Villa District with its bungalows; Old Irving Park, replete with Queen Anne, Victorian, and Italianate farmhouses; and Independence Park, dense with turn-of-the-century homes and multifamily buildings.

Jefferson 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 area was annexed by Chicago in 1889. It is home to a large Polish-American population, and the Copernicus Center, with its annual Taste of Polonia, is a major cultural hub for the community. It is also a significant transportation hub for the Northwest Side, with many bus routes, Metra, and the CTA Blue Line converging.

Lakeview

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 best-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 numerous 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 vibrant commercial corridors along Armitage and Clark.

Lincoln Square / Ravenswood

The names Lincoln Square and Ravenswood are often used interchangeably, representing two distinct but closely-linked communities. Ravenswood typically designates the residential neighborhood while Lincoln Square more often refers to the commercial district radiating out from the six-way intersection of Lawrence, Lincoln and Western. The area has long been known for its German identity, but today you're just as likely to see businesses catering to residents of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. It also contains a former industrial corridor along the Chicago & Northwestern Railway tracks (Ravenswood Avenue) that has been transformed into a unique arts, shopping and craft beverage production district.

Morgan Park

Morgan Park’s development began in earnest in the 1870s. At the beginning of the decade, the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad established a line that provided service to the Loop. The community’s subdivision south of 107th street also began, resulting in curving streets and residences with generous green lawns, resembling an English village. It was all built on the hilly topography along the Blue Island Ridge. Other factors that drove growth included the founding of the Morgan Park Military Academy in 1873, the Chicago Female College in 1875 and the Baptist Union Theological Seminary in 1877. Morgan Park was annexed to Chicago in 1914, but has remained a quiet, residential community since, closely linked with neighboring Beverly.

Near North Side

The Near North Side is officially the community area that sits immediately north of the Loop, though parts of it have distinct neighborhood identities that OHC lists separately. The most famous element of the Near North Side is the Magnificent Mile, the elegant Parisian-inspired shopping boulevard that developed along Michigan Avenue after the opening of the DuSable Bridge in 1920. The “Mag Mile” divides the dense lakefront area of Streeterville, largely taken up with residential and institutional uses, from the western reaches of the community, defined more by the adaptive reuse of former industrial buildings. The Near North Side has undergone constant reinvention throughout the history of Chicago, a process that continues today as development presses north from the booming Loop.

Near West Side

Since the 19th century, the Near West Side has been home to some of Chicago's most prominent ethnic communities including Greektown, Little Italy and Maxwell Street. Despite massive 20th-century projects, such as the Eisenhower Expressway, University of Illinois Chicago and the United Center, remnants of the area's ethnic enclaves remain. And the area’s vast former industrial district is rapidly developing into a thriving business, dining and residential neighborhood--an extension of the booming Loop, with a distinctly different atmosphere.

North Lawndale

North Lawndale is known for beautiful Douglas Park, laid out by William Le Baron Jenney in the 1870s to help spur the westward growth of Chicago. Many of North Lawndale's first residents were Bohemian immigrants who worked at the McCormick Reaper Plant to the south, and later the area welcomed a large Jewish population. Today, it is home to a predominantly African American community. The neighborhood also boasts historic Greystone homes and the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse complex, whose remaining buildings have been gradually undergoing visionary redevelopment.

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 "world’s 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 Drummond, E. E. Roberts and John Van Bergen.

Oak Park sites are sponsored by Albion Oak Park and Visit Oak Park.

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Old Town

Official definitions of Old Town are hard to come by, but it is commonly held to include any place where the bells of St. Michael can be heard. The neighborhood owes much of its charming, grid-violating, small-scale urbanism and vernacular Victorian architecture to the German immigrants who developed it in the late 1800s. By the 1920s, upwardly-mobile families were leaving to move further from downtown, and Old Town became--and remained for decades--an appealing haven for those on the fringes of society. Groups who left their mark include artists (such as the group that surrounded Edgar Miller), sexual minorities (the first American gay rights organization was started in Old Town in 1924), new immigrant groups (Puerto Ricans in the 1950s called the area “La Clark”), and eventually Hippies (tied to an influential folk music scene). The neighborhood remains an eclectic blend of buildings and people to this day.

Pilsen

Pilsen is named after a city in the Czech Republic and was established in the 1840s as one of Chicago’s earliest working-class immigrant communities. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the area drew large numbers of Bohemian immigrants who found work in manufacturing plants. In the past six decades, the community has been defined by Mexican residents and businesses. In recent years, a large number of breweries, restaurants, galleries and music venues have joined the neighborhood’s vibrant cultural scene, triggering efforts to ensure that longtime residents are not displaced.

Portage Park

Originally part of Jefferson Township, an area outside Chicago settled as early as the 1830s, Portage Park is a vibrant neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side. The intersection of Irving Park Road, Milwaukee Avenue and Cicero Avenue, known as Six Corners, was at one time the largest business district in Chicago outside of the Loop. The area was annexed by Chicago in 1889. The extension of streetcar lines into this relatively rural area lured immigrants to resettle here from the crowded center city, and before long, Portage Park was home to various European immigrant groups in brand new bungalows, part of what would become Chicago's "Bungalow Belt."

South Loop / Prairie Avenue

Prairie Avenue 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 residential neighborhood whose dense new development is anchored by several remaining Gilded Age mansions--as well as the massive McCormick Place.

South Shore

In the 1880s, several wealthy Chicagoans were asked to literally move their homes to make way for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park. Beautiful homes and apartment buildings were constructed along South Shore Drive and in the Jackson Park Highlands, taking their tone from the luxurious South Shore Country Club. That institution’s policy of racial discrimination resulted in its closure, but community activists rallied to preserve it as a neighborhood anchor for all. The community is currently at a crossroads, with plans for major developments to the north and south promising significant change in the coming decades.

Ukrainian Village

This community has been a hub of Ukrainian culture since World War I, when a large influx of Ukrainian refugees settled there. Many aspects of Ukrainian culture are still visible in the area today, along with traces from the cultures of German, Polish, Slovak and Jewish immigrants. Elegant apartment buildings interspersed with dramatic churches and hip bars and restaurants make this a sought-after residential neighborhood.

Washington Park

Centered around a 372-acre park of the same name, Washington Park started developing in the 1860s. Irish and German railroad and meatpacking workers moved in first, even before the low-lying and swampy land was dredged in the 1880s. Transportation routes stimulated rapid growth in the late 1800s, and cable cars and the L reached beyond 55th Street by the end of the century. The city’s earliest boulevards were established just north of the park. The neighborhood underwent a rapid racial transformation in the 1930s, with many African Americans moving into new apartments during the Great Migration. In the decades since, it has been heavily affected by disinvestment and widespread demolition of buildings, but revitalization efforts are gradually taking shape.

West Ridge

The residential community west of Ridge Avenue is home to many brick bungalows, two-flats and large apartment buildings. Unlike neighboring Rogers Park, West Ridge maintained a low population through 1900. When brickyards moved to the area, Scandinavian and German workers came for jobs. The end of each World War sparked population growth. Many new ethnic groups, such as Jews, Middle Easterners, Indians, Pakistanis and Koreans, have come to call it home since the 1960s, giving it a diverse character, with eclectic dining and retail to match.

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, and the East Village all retain characteristics of their storied pasts, but have recently undergone significant development and change.

Wicker Park

Wicker Park is a thriving residential and commercial community centered on the iconic intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen. It was largely developed in the latter decades of the 1800s by immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia. Considerable wealth is reflected in the grand Gothic and Italianate brick and stone mansions that grace some of the neighborhood’s tree-lined streets, but rows of simple working-class cottages often stand just blocks away. By the 1930s, Wicker Park had become part of the working class Polish community expanding northwest from West Town, and by the 1960s a significant Hispanic population had moved in. The neighborhood’s cheap rents and proximity to downtown began to draw artists in the 1980s, kicking off heated early battles over gentrification. In the ensuing decades, the neighborhood’s vintage homes and eclectic commercial corridors have cemented its status as a desirable part of town.

Woodlawn

Woodlawn developed rapidly in the 1890s as the gateway to the World’s Columbian Exposition, with the elevated train along 63rd Street spurring its boom as a commercial and jazz mecca. Demographic shifts led to years of disinvestment through much of the 20th Century, with lingering scars. Today, the University of Chicago exerts considerable influence in the neighborhood, developing land holdings with new dormitories and academic buildings. More change is on the way with the Obama Presidential Center planned for nearby Jackson Park, which could bring much-needed economic development but is also spurring concern about displacement of longtime residents.

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