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River North, Chicago

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River North, Chicago

Near North Side
Community area
Community Area 08 - Near North Side


Location within the city of Chicago

Coordinates: 41°54′N 87°37.8′W / 41.900°N 87.6300°W / 41.900; -87.6300Coordinates: 41°54′N 87°37.8′W / 41.900°N 87.6300°W / 41.900; -87.6300

Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
City Chicago
 • Total 2.72 sq mi (7.04 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 80,484
 • Density 30,000/sq mi (11,000/km2)
  population up 10% from 2000
Demographics 2010[1]
 • White 72.11%
 • Black 10.85%
 • Hispanic 4.94%
 • Asian 10.11%
 • Other 1.99%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 60611, most of 60610, and parts of 60654 and 60642
Median household income[2] $76,290
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

The Near North Side is one of 77 well-defined community areas of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is also one of the four areas that constitute downtown Chicago. The others being the Near West Side, Near South Side, and the Loop. All are located south of the Near North Side. The community area, itself, is located north and east of the Chicago River. To its east is Lake Michigan and its northern boundary is the 19th-century city limit of Chicago, North Avenue. In comparison to the other downtown community areas, the Near North Side has the second largest total area, after the Near West Side, and the highest skyscraper and population count. With the exception of Goose Island and Cabrini–Green on the west, the Near North Side is known for its extreme affluence, typified by the Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast, Navy Pier, and its famous skyscrapers.

McCormickville, in the vicinity of Rush and Erie Street, is so named because it is here where many branches of the famous McCormick family of mechanical reaper fame built their mansions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the 1780s, in what is now the Near North Side, on the northern banks of the Chicago River near today's Michigan Avenue Bridge, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built the first known permanent settlement in "Eschecagou." Today this is marked by Pioneer Court.


Gold Coast

Main article: Gold Coast Historic District (Chicago, Illinois)

The Gold Coast consists mostly of high-rise apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive, facing Lake Michigan, but also includes low-rise residential blocks, inland. As with many neighborhoods, its exact borders are subject to dispute; but, generally they extend from North Avenue, south, to Division Street and west to LaSalle Street; and, it also includes the areas east of State Street, south, to Oak Street and east of Michigan Avenue, south, to Oak Street.

The Gold Coast became the home of the super-rich in 1885, when Potter Palmer, former dry goods merchant and owner of the Palmer House hotel, built a fanciful castle on Lake Shore Drive. Over the next few decades, Chicago's elite gradually migrated from Prairie Avenue to their new homes north of the Loop.

Along almost every boulevard of the Gold Coast, upscale boutiques and shops have opened up. Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Hermès, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier SA, Van Cleef & Arpels, Yves Saint Laurent, Harry Winston, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Stuart Weitzman, Rolex, Max Mara, Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo, Versace, Paul Stuart, Betsey Johnson, and Lilly Pulitzer are just a few of the dozens of designers that have locations in the exclusive neighborhood. Also, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Porsche, and Bugatti have dealership locations in the Gold Coast.

The "Gold Coast Historic District" was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 30, 1978.

Gold Coast is zoned to the following Ogden School, and Lincoln Park High School.

Old Town

Main article: Old Town, Chicago

Old Town is a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, bounded by the North Avenue on north, Larrabee Street on the northwest, Division Street on the south, Clybourn Avenue on the southwest and LaSalle Street on the east. It crosses portions of the community areas of southern Lincoln Park, as well the northern Near North Side, and is part of Chicago's 43rd ward. Old Town includes the Old Town Triangle Historic District. The Old Town Triangle Historic District is bounded on its northwest side by the former Ogden Avenue right-of-way,[3] its northeast side by Lincoln Avenue and Wells Street, and on its south side by North Avenue.[4] This historic district sits within the Old Town Triangle Association (OTTA), a Lincoln Park neighborhood bounded by the former Ogden Avenue right-of-way, Clark Street and North Avenue. It sits inside the community area of Lincoln Park and is part of Chicago's 43rd ward. Old Town north of North Avenue is in Lincoln Park, and south of North Avenue is part of the Near North Side. It is now an affluent gentrified neighborhood. Old Town south of North Avenue is a mixture of rich and poor with CHA housing projects (including Marshall Field Apartments and parts of Cabrini–Green) as well as gentrified areas.

Old Town is today considered an affluent and historic neighborhood, home to many of Chicago's older Victorian-era buildings.In the 1950s, the majority of this area was an enclave to the first Puerto Ricans to emigrate to Chicago. They referred to this area as part of "La Clark" until commercialization decorated late 1960s shop signs with the name of Old Town. The neighborhood is home to St. Michael's Church, originally a Bavarian-built church, and one of 7 to survive the path of the Great Chicago Fire. St. Michael's, Holy Name Cathedral, Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph's catered also to Latinos with Spanish speaking masses.

The neighborhood is also home to the famed The Second City improvisational comedy troupe. Many of the streets and alleys, particularly in the Old Town Triangle section, predate the Great Chicago Fire and do not all adhere to a typical Chicago grid pattern. In 1927, sculptors Sol Kogen and Edgar Miller purchased and subsequently rehabilited a house on Burton Place, near Wells Street, into the Carl Street Studios. Through the 1930s, an art colony emerged in the neighborhood as artists moved from the Towertown neighborhood near Washington Square Park.

Old Town was also home to many gays and lesbians from the 1950s through the 1980s. There were numerous gay bars lining Wells Street (all of them closed now). This was the first "gay ghetto" in Chicago, predating the current Lake View neighborhood (which is the current epicentre of gay life). As the area gentrified, the gays moved further north to Lincoln Park and then Lake View neighborhoods.

Old Town has one Brown-Purple Line El station at 1536-40 North Sedgwick Avenue. It is one of the oldest standing stations on the 'L'.

Goose Island

Goose Island is the only island on the Chicago River. It is separated from the mainland by the North Branch of the Chicago River on the west and the North Branch Canal on the east. The canal was dug in 1853 by former Chicago mayor William Butler Ogden for industrial purposes, thus forming the island. Because he formed the island, at times, it has been known as William B. Ogden Island. After Irish immigrants moved to the island, it took on the name Goose Island as well as Kilgubbin, which was the immigrants' original home in Ireland. The Goose Island Brewery makes Kilgubbin Red Ale, in honor of this name.[3]

The large facility on the north end of the island (visible from North Avenue, but only reachable from the south: Division Street to North Branch to 1132 W. Blackhawk) is the Wrigley Global Innovation Center, a 193,000-square-foot (17,900 m2) facility, which opened in September 2005 and was designed by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.

On the south end of the island is Kendall College's Riverworks campus.

River North

River North is a neighborhood in the Near North Side community area of Chicago, Illinois. It is bound by Michigan Avenue to the east, Chicago Avenue to the north, and the Chicago River to the south and west.

History of River North:

Smokey Hollow

River North previously was named Smokey Hollow around the turn of the 20th century due to the many factories and forges in the area. The smoke was often so thick that sunlight was blocked. At the time Smokey Hollow was a major transportation hub with railroad tracks linking the ports along the Chicago River with the surrounding areas. The Merchandise Mart still has railroad tracks underneath the building. Massive coal bins were throughout the neighborhood both bringing coal into the area from ships and storage for all the ships. The Merchandise Mart was a major storage warehouse for goods. Montgomery Ward had a major transportation and storage facility in River North.

Little Sicily

Little Sicily in Chicago was also located in River North. The first Italian Roman Catholic Church in Chicago was Assumption on Illinois Street, with a mandate to be the Parish for all Italians from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Later Sicilians began to move north from the immediate vicinity of Assumption and began to form their own Parishes north. Italians whose family roots were from other parts of Italy tended to move west along Grand Street and formed Parishes west of Assumption.

Present name

The River North neighborhood got its name from Chicago real estate developer Albert Friedman (chief executive of Friedman Properties Ltd.), who in 1974 started to buy, restore and build commercial property in the southeast sector.[4] Much of the area was skid row at the time, so in an effort to attract tenants Friedman started calling the area "River North".[4] Within a few years, Friedman found photographers, ad agencies and art galleries willing to rent the low cost space and coalesce into what is now the The River North Gallery District,[4] which has the largest concentration of art galleries in the United States outside of Manhattan.[5] Along with hundreds of art galleries, the area holds many bars, dance clubs, popular restaurants, and entertainment venues. Between the year 2000 and 2010, the population in the four census tracts covering River North increased by an average of nearly 82%, boosting population from 9,835 in 2000 to 17,892 in 2010.

Subsections of River North include:

  • the gallery district, primarily along Superior and Huron streets between Wells and Orleans;
  • a theme-restaurant area with many tourist-oriented restaurants, surrounding Clark and Ontario;
  • "the Cathedral District", an area with many new residential skyscrapers surrounding Holy Name Cathedral (Catholic) and St. James Cathedral (Episcopal), located near State and Superior, and Huron and Wabash, respectively;
  • a design district, with shops and showrooms selling commercial and luxury interior furnishings, in the blocks north of the Merchandise Mart; and
  • Kingsbury Park, an area of newly built residential high-rises surrounding Montgomery Ward Park, at Erie Street and the Chicago River.

River North is serviced by four "L" train stations: the above-ground Chicago-Brown and Merchandise Mart-Brown stations and the below-ground Chicago-Red and Grand-Red stations.


Main article: Streeterville

Streeterville is the easternmost neighborhood in Chicago, north of the Chicago River. It is bounded by the river on the south, Michigan Avenue on the west, and Lake Michigan on the north and east.

Streeterville houses some of Chicago's tallest skyscrapers (such as the John Hancock Center) and most upscale stores, hotels, restaurants, as well as Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, School of Continuing Studies, Kellogg School of Management's downtown campus and School of Law. The Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue is part of Streeterville, as is the number one tourist attraction in Chicago, Navy Pier. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago is also located here.

Magnificent Mile

Main article: Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile is a stretch of North Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Oak Street in Streeterville. Although actually about three-quarters of a mile, the name "Magnificent Mile" has stuck.

Along this street is a mixture of luxury stores, restaurants, office buildings and hotels. The area has a high concentration of the city's major media firms and advertising agencies, including the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

It is the home of Chicago's famous Water Tower landmark, Water Tower Park with its historic clock, and the eight-level Water Tower Place shopping center which grew up next door to, and overshadowed, the comparatively diminutive landmark. The shopping center is anchored by Macy's North Michigan store. North of the shopping center can be found the famous John Hancock Center, the Art Deco Palmolive Building and the lavish Drake Hotel.


The name SoNo refers to the area being "SOuth of NOrth (Avenue)". The SoNo neighborhood is bordered by North Avenue, Halsted Street, the North Branch of the Chicago River, and Division Street. It includes the British School of Chicago, Chicago's largest auto dealership, the world's third largest Whole Foods, the word's first Kids Science Labs, and some high rise housing. It is also home to the Weed Street District. This is a rapidly changing area with more and more retail going up as an extension of the big box stores on Clybourn Avenue and North Avenue.


Main article: Cabrini–Green

Cabrini–Green was a public housing project that suffered from gang violence and poverty, while housing 15,000 people.[6] A small part of it is still located in Near Northside, but most of the project was torn down between 1997 and 2010. It was made up primarily of mid- and high-rise apartment buildings. The apartment buildings opened in 1958 and 1962, while the rowhouses (called the Frances Cabrini Homes, which still exist) opened in 1942. Cabrini–Green stood on what used to be a neighborhood called "Little Sicily". In the 1920s, Little Sicily, also had a reputation for poverty and crime.[7] As gentrification began to take hold in the 1990s, the buildings made way for new development. The final Cabrini-Green tower was demolished in 2011, and the area is currently in the process of redevelopment.



Chicago Water Tower

John Hancock Center

Water Tower Place

900 North Michigan

Marina City

Holy Name Cathedral

St. James Cathedral

Tribune Tower

Trump Tower

Lake Point Tower


Chicago Children's Museum

Driehaus Museum

International Museum of Surgical Science

Loyola University Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows


Magnificent Mile

Navy Pier

Centennial Fountain

Chicago River boat cruises


Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Lookingglass Theatre Company


The Wrigley Company has its headquarters in the Wrigley Building.[8] The Tribune Company has its headquarters in the Tribune Tower.[9] Potbelly Sandwich Works has its headquarters in the Merchandise Mart complex.[10]

Google's Chicago offices are in the Dearborn Plaza building in the Near North Side.[11] Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have offices in the John Hancock Center.[12][13]

After American Airlines acquired Simmons Airlines, and before Simmons was dissolved, Simmons had its headquarters in the Near North Side.[14] At one point Indigo Airlines was headquartered in the Near North Side.[15]

Diplomatic missions

Several consulates reside on the Near North Side. The main building and visa office of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China are in the Near North Side;[16][17] other countries with missions in the Near North Side include Austria,[18] Bosnia and Herzegovina,[19] Brazil,[20] Bulgaria,[21] Chile,[22] Colombia,[23] Denmark,[24] Egypt,[25] Germany,[26] Greece,[27] India,[28] Republic of Ireland,[29] Italy,[30] Japan,[31] South Korea,[32] Lithuania,[33] Poland,[34] Serbia,[35] Switzerland,[36] Thailand,[37] the United Kingdom,[38] and Ukraine.[39]

Three trade missions have offices at 500 North Michigan Avenue; the Austrian Trade Commission is located in Suite 1950,[40] the Trade Commission of Spain and the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce Midwest is located in Suite 506.[41]


Colleges and universities

Northwestern University School of Law

Northwestern University Medical School

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business, School of Social Work, Institute of Pastoral Studies, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and School of Communication

Kendall College

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

University of Chicago's Booth School of Business Gleacher Center

Erikson Institute

Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago

Moody Bible Institute

Old Town School of Folk Music

Primary and secondary schools

Chicago Public Schools serves residents of the Near North Side.

Walter Payton College Prep

Ogden International School of Chicago - East Campus (primary school)

Latin School of Chicago (private)

Adult education

Feltre School


Newberry Library

Chicago Public Library Near North Branch

Chicago Public Library Water Works Branch

Pritzker Military Library

Notable residents

  • Robert Halperin, Olympic and Pan American Games yachting medalist, college and professional football player, one of Chicago's most-decorated World War II heroes, and Chairman of Commercial Light Co.
  • Suzanne Le Mignot, television news anchor and reporter
Historical population
Census Pop.


External links

Chicago portal
  • Official City of Chicago Near North Side Community Map
  • Streeterville Chamber of Commerce
  • Downtown Chicago's Comprehensive Website
  • Gold Coast Neighbors Association
  • Chicago Landmarks Commission map of landmarks and landmark districts on the near north side
  • Chicago Park District:
    • Connors Park
    • Washington Square Park
  • Navy Pier
  • Travel Essay on River North by Max Grinnell
  • La Clark neighborhood and Young Lords origins
  • Friedman Properties

Template:Neighborhoods in Chicago

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