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2018 Sites

Explore more than 250 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 residential and commercial district famous worldwide for its innovative and iconic high-rises, boulevards and beautiful civic spaces such as Millennium Park.

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 Avenues showcase 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 the rapid gentrification of Logan Square immediately to the south.

Back of the Yards

Back of the Yards, so named for its adjacency 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 descendents 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.

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 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.

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 and residents have recently renewed efforts to revitalize the business district near 63rd and Halsted.

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.

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.

Hyde Park

In 1853, Hyde Park was established as a modest commuter neighborhood 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 in Hyde Park. The neighborhood was not immune to waves of South Side disinvestment from the 1950s on, though the University's presence and proximity to the lake and park space helped to moderate its impact. Today, Hyde Park is undergoing rapid change linked to its relative affordability, ongoing expansion of the University and plans for an Obama Presidential Center.

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.

Lincoln Square / Ravenswood

The names Lincoln Square and Ravenswood are often used interchangeably. “Ravenswood” typically designates the residential neighborhood while “Lincoln Square” 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 and Northwestern Railway tracks (Ravenswood Avenue) that has been transformed into a unique arts, shopping and craft beverage production district.

Logan Square

Logan Square, annexed in 1889, is a key link in the “Emerald Necklace” system of parks and boulevards. Handsome homes line the bucolic boulevards, while greater residential and commercial density is found along the avenues and around the square itself—a popular hangout punctuated by the Illinois Centennial Monument and well-served by the CTA Blue Line. In the last decade, Logan Square has seen an explosion in new dining and drinking establishments and a surge in residential mid-rise construction located near train stations.

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.

North Lawndale

North Lawndale is known for the 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 of Bohemian descent and 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, with some buildings undergoing 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 "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 Drummond, E. E. Roberts and John Van Bergen.

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 become increasingly defined by Mexican residents and businesses. Most recently, a large number of new breweries, restaurants, art galleries and music venues have set up shop in the neighborhood.

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 - as well as the massive McCormick Square.

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 at a crossroads, with plans for major developments to the north and south promising major change in the coming decades.

Washington Park

Centered around a 372-acre park by 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 train 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 change, but revitalization efforts are gradually taking shape.

West Ridge

The residential community west of Ridge Avenue, also sometimes known as West Rogers Park, is home to many brick bungalows, two-flats and large apartment buildings. Unlike neighboring Rogers Park, West Ridge maintained a low population through 1900, fewer than 500 residents. 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 made it home since the 1960s, giving it a diverse character.

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 Jackson Park.

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