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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 commercial—and increasingly residential—district famed the world over for its innovative and iconic high-rises, elegant boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park and the Riverwalk.

Andersonville / 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.

A modern-day subsection of Edgewater, 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. 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.

Auburn Gresham

Auburn Gresham, often referred to simply as “Gresham,” is located between the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Dan Ryan Woods on Chicago’s South Side. This neighborhood was originally part of an independent township called Lake annexed by the city of Chicago in 1889. Auburn Gresham grew considerably in the years following the 1893 World’s Fair, welcoming predominantly European workers attracted by the area’s accessibility to transit lines. St. Sabina Church, with intricate tracery in its Gothic windows, was completed in 1933 as Auburn Gresham’s largely Catholic population nearly tripled between World War I and the Great Depression. The neighborhood kept growing throughout the 1960s as it shifted from majority white to African American, as it remains today.

New investment in the neighborhood has centered on 79th Street, with the recent opening of the Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub, planned affordable housing projects and the forthcoming Auburn Park Metra Station.


Once part of Cicero Township, Austin was involuntarily annexed into Chicago in 1899 over political disagreements with neighboring Oak Park. The 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 famed landscape architect Jens Jensen in the 1920s. Though the neighborhood has faced several challenging decades of disinvestment through "blockbusting" and red lining due to rising racial tensions in the 1960s, many organizations today are working together for positive change, including the release of a new Quality of Life Plan for the neighborhood in 2018.


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, business startups and infill residential construction - a byproduct of rapid development in Logan Square, immediately to the south.

Beverly / Morgan Park

Beverly and neighboring Morgan Park were 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. Morgan Park, meanwhile, stretches from 107th Street south to 119th Street. The area's 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. 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.

95th Street was established as—and remains—an important commercial artery for Beverly, and Western Avenue brings many shops and services to both communities. Other businesses are clustered every few blocks around the train stations. While Beverly was annexed to Chicago in 1890 and Morgan Park in 1914, both neighborhoods have retained their small town character.


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, with one of the largest concentrations of historic mansions in the city.

Efforts are underway to spur inclusive economic development that builds on Bronzeville’s culturally rich legacy. This legacy was recently honored by the creation of a new Bronzeville Black Metropolis National Heritage Area, which will help fund and promote preservation efforts, tourism, cultural programming and historic interpretation.

Chatham / 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 today’s Jackson Park. They went south, kicking off the construction of beautiful homes and apartment buildings along South Shore Drive and in the Jackson Park Highlands. Subsequent waves of development soon brought many more people to the area, and despite considerable population loss since the 1950s, South Shore remains one of the most densely populated South Side neighborhoods. Architecturally, some of the older grand homes and buildings took cues 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. Since 1975, it’s been owned by the Chicago Park District and is now named the South Shore Cultural Center. The community is currently at a crossroads, with plans for major developments to the north and south promising significant change in the coming decades.

Chatham, just to the south and east, developed in earnest in the 1880s as Irish, Italian and Hungarian railroad and steel workers flooded into new housing subdivisions on formerly swampy open land. For most of its history, Chatham has been a middle class stronghold, first for European Americans and then primarily African Americans from the 1950s to the present. Although the neighborhood has several distinct areas, it is the classic Chicago bungalow that has come to define its character by and large. A cruise through Chatham today will yield block after block of tidy brick bungalows and avenues lined with independent Black-owned businesses.


Once known as Junction Grove for the railroad lines that crisscrossed the area, Englewood officially 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 with residents striving to build and repair intra-community bonds.

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. Right nearby, an ambitious 1.75-mile-long rails-to-trails project is also gathering steam. Dubbed the Englewood Nature Trail, it would include a band of adjacent land as a unique eco-agro-district--productive urban farms for building a resilient local food system.

Garfield Park / North Lawndale

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. Garfield Park also supports a host of newer light manufacturing businesses, maker spaces, and art galleries.

North Lawndale is best known for beautiful Douglass 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. Later, the area welcomed a large Jewish population. Today, it is home to a predominantly African American community. North Lawndale residents have provided significant contributions to progressive policies around community development, racial equity and urban farming. The neighborhood also boasts an outstanding collection of greystone homes in the K-Town historic district, and the massive former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse complex which has been gradually undergoing a visionary redevelopment.


Hermosa is a working-class neighborhood on the Northwest Side that grew with the arrival of streetcar service and new factory jobs. Many skilled workers from Scotland, Germany and Sweden settled here, including Walt Disney's father, who built a cottage at Tripp and Palmer Streets in 1893. The southern area near Armitage and Fullerton developed first, and in the 1920s the north end of Hermosa filled in with bungalows (in 2018, this area was granted historic bungalow district landmark protections). By the 1930s, Hermosa’s population grew to near what it is today, around 25,000. In the 1980s, Latinx residents became the majority, with many nationalities and dialects represented. The neighborhood boasts three popular parks and a high-quality housing stock largely unchanged from 100 years ago.

Humboldt Park

The Humboldt Park neighborhood takes its name from a 207-acre park designed by pioneering engineer-architect William Le Baron Jenney, and further refined by famed landscape designer Jens Jensen. Studded with large, fanciful buildings in the Prairie, Queen Anne and Tudor styles, the park is surrounded by classic workers cottages, greystones and terra cotta-tiled commercial buildings. Humboldt Park saw an influx of Latinx residents beginning in the 1940s and the area remains largely Puerto Rican, Dominican and Mexican to this day despite a wave of gentrification. The neighborhood is enlivened by the work of multiple arts and cultural organizations including the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Two large steel Puerto Rican flags, at opposite ends of a stretch of West Division Street known as Paseo Boricua, were designated city landmarks in 2022.

Hyde Park / Woodlawn

Founded in the early 1850s, the culturally rich and diverse neighborhood of Hyde Park is home to activists, artists, politicians, students and scholars. From innovative Modernist landmarks to bucolic green spaces, Hyde Park is studded with remarkable architecture. In 1853, Hyde Park Township was established as a modest commuter suburb with frequent train service to downtown. The location was enviable, just miles from the Loop, and encompassing two of the city’s largest parks: Jackson and Washington. The 1893 World’s Fair and the establishment of the University of Chicago triggered a wave of development. Fearful of large-scale housing demolition in the 1960s, community groups worked to stabilize the area and preserve Hyde Park's identity as a vibrant and unique neighborhood. Today, Hyde Park is undergoing rapid change linked to significant new commercial development.

Woodlawn developed rapidly in the 1890s as the gateway to the 1893 World’s Fair. The elevated train along 63rd Street helped spur its development into a commercial and jazz mecca. As African Americans began to migrate north to Chicago during the 1920s, many faced housing discrimination and hostility. The neighborhood became the center of a pivotal Supreme Court Case Hansberry v. Lee and echo experiences set in Lorraine Hansberry's famous play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” By the early 1960s, Woodlawn was a predominantly African American neighborhood and considered part of the “Black Metropolis.” Although the neighborhood has faced considerable disinvestment, Woodlawn is seeing renewed interest. The Obama Presidential Center being constructed in Jackson Park promises to bring economic development but has also prompted real concerns about displacement of longtime residents.

Lincoln Square / Ravenswood

The names Lincoln Square and Ravenswood are often used interchangeably, representing two distinct but closely-linked communities. Ravenswood is a small, predominately residential neighborhood mostly contained within the eastern half of the larger Lincoln Square Area. Lincoln Square encompasses a number of commercial districts and residential pockets. 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.

Little Village / Pilsen

Named after a city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen was established in the 1840s as one of Chicago’s earliest working-class immigrant communities. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, both Pilsen and neighboring Little Village to the west drew large numbers of Bohemian immigrants who found work at the Union Stockyards and nearby manufacturing plants. Since the 1960s, a predominantly Mexican American population has defined both areas.

In many ways culturally and physically contiguous, Pilsen is anchored by bustling 18th Street while Little Village boasts a 2-mile-long commercial district along 26th Street, an economic engine with sales receipts second only to North Michigan Avenue. Bright murals and mosaics mark the streetscape in both neighborhoods and often reflect Mexican history and culture. In recent years, a growing number of breweries, restaurants, galleries and music venues centered around 18th Street have joined the area’s vibrant cultural mix.

Logan Square

Logan Square, annexed to Chicago in 1889, is a key link in the city’s ribbon of green parks and boulevards. Handsome brick and limestone houses and apartment buildings line the leafy boulevards while greater density is found along the avenues and around the square itself—a popular hangout punctuated by the Illinois Centennial Monument. In the last decade or so, Logan Square has seen an explosion in new dining and drinking establishments, entertainment venues, and residential infill and mid-rise construction. The 2.7-mile elevated Bloomingdale Trail, or "606," which opened in 2015, is a triumph of recreational design, improving both access to green space and the area's active transportation network.

Near North Side

Located just north of the Loop and the Chicago River, the Near North Side is a large community area that includes the Gold Coast, Old Town, River North and Streeterville neighborhoods. Its most famous element 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 towers and medical campus buildings, from the western reaches of the community, defined more by repurposed industrial buildings and a bustling dining and club scene. The Near North Side has undergone constant reinvention throughout the history of Chicago, a process that continues today as more people yearn to live downtown.

Near South Side

In the mid-19th century, the Near South Side was a rough-and-tumble mix of warehouses and residential buildings, home primarily to Irish and German immigrants. Working-class housing consisted of small wooden structures while the more affluent built grand houses along Wabash and Michigan avenues. The Great Fire of 1871 spared much of the area, and over the next 20 years it transformed to mainly commercial uses largely due to its close proximity to the south branch of the Chicago River and two train stations. While the neighborhood included Chicago’s earliest “Millionaire’s Row” along Prairie Avenue and important religious institutions like Quinn Chapel AME and Second Presbyterian Church, much of the area was notorious as a vice district.

Today, the Near South Side is widely seen as a desirable location to live and work, with a range of restaurants, museums, the McCormick Place Convention Center, and historic landmarks including Motor Row, the Glessner House and the Clark-Ford House.

Near West Side

The Near West Side is one of Chicago's oldest and most ethnically diverse community areas. It encompasses several neighborhoods established by 19th century European immigrants, including Greektown and Little Italy. Despite massively disruptive 20th century urban renewal projects such as the Eisenhower Expressway, the University of Illinois at Chicago campus and the United Center, remnants of the area's ethnic enclaves remain. In the past 20+ years, the vast former meatpacking and warehousing zone encompassing the West Loop and Fulton Market District has rapidly developed into a thriving business, dining and residential neighborhood luring corporate titans like McDonald's and Google to set up major offices.


Barely 15 years after architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape designer Nathan Barrett laid out a Utopian community for the workers of railcar magnate George Pullman’s empire, those workers went on strike, having borne the brunt of reduced demand for Pullman’s venerated product. By 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court had ordered the Pullman Palace Car Company to divest itself of its residential properties and the community was absorbed by the city of Chicago. Pullman today encompasses that historic nexus of labor rights and urban planning as well as larger areas to the west of Lake Calumet and north to 95th Street, filled in by population growth and new developments throughout the mid-20th century.

Visitors to the neighborhood today can explore the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, the new Pullman National Park site encompassing the Administration Building and grounds, and tour Pullman’s many historic homes. Pullman became a National Monument under President Barack Obama in 2015, and a National Historical Park under President Joe Biden in 2022.

Ukrainian Village / West Town

The greater Near Northwest Side of Chicago—more-or-less captured within the West Town Community Area boundaries—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, East Village and Ukrainian Village all retain characteristics of their storied pasts, but have undergone significant gentrification in the 21st century.

The compact Ukrainian Village neighborhood has been a hub of Ukrainian business and culture since World War I, when a large influx of refugees settled here. Many aspects of Ukrainian culture are still prevalent in the area today, along with influences from German, Polish, Slovak and Jewish immigrant communities. Elegant apartment buildings interspersed with dramatic churches and hip bars and restaurants make this a sought-after residential neighborhood.


Before the movie industry went west to Hollywood, Uptown was the home of well-known early film stars including Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. The neighborhood features many ornate historic structures dating from its heyday as an entertainment hub in the 1920s and 1930s. It also boasts an outstanding array of historic residential architecture from single-family homes to ornate apartment blocks. Uptown's historic legacies, rich diversity, fantastic live music and eclectic dining scene make it a modern-day cultural destination.

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