There are eight neighborhoods in Downtown Chicago. They consist of River North, Streeterville, Lakeshore East, Gold Coast, South Loop, West Loop, Kinzie Station and Loop. Initially, this site will focus primarily on River North and Streeterville.
Streeterville Neighborhood History
Streeterville is named after an eccentric ship captain George Streeter who claimed 180 acres of landfill owned by industrialist N.K. Fairbank in the 19th century after his 35-ton vessel landed on a sandbar of what is now the Streeterville neighborhood. The vessel slowly silted into place and became impossible to move.
To say the least, George Streeter was an interesting character. From 1886 to 1921 Streeter spun lies, forged legal documents and used violence to attempt to take approximately 180 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline away from its rightful owners. After failing to defraud the wealthy landowners, he then turned to robbing the poor by selling them land that he did not own.
At one point, the rightful owner, Fairbank, arrived to inform George Streeter that he was an illegal squatter and that he had to leave. Streeter responded by chasing off Fairbank with a shotgun. Further attempts to remove Streeter were met with gunfire and pots of scalding water. He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, but was acquitted on the grounds that buckshot was not considered deadly.
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Lake Michigan was a dumping location for contractors looking to get rid of backfill and general rubble. George Streeter invited contractors to dump their rubble where his vessel sat thus extending the land in the area. By 1890, the area became known for its prostitute, homeless and other undesirable population.
These days, Streeterville is anything but a garbage dump as new high end condo and apartment developments have turned it into a top Downtown Chicago neighborhood to live in. Bounded by Lake Michigan, the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago River, the neighborhood is home to Chicago landmarks such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the year-round amusement park that is Navy Pier.
Streeterville is located conveniently close to Downtown Chicago businesses, attractions and nightlife. Although access to the subways (aka “The L”) is not as close as other Downtown Chicago neighborhoods, Streeterville has plenty of bus routes to take you towards downtown or up north.
Streeterville is a neighborhood with modern buildings which attracts young professionals, expatriates and visitors from all over the world. You will find people in this neighborhood very chic, professional and always in a rush.
Visit the Streeterville neighborhood page.
River North does not have a history as interesting as Streeterville, but it is the most robust and high-energy Downtown Chicago neighborhood as of today. River North came to be because of Chicago real estate developer Albert Friedman who in 1974 started to buy up, restore and build commercial property. Since then, River North has become known for its concentration of art galleries, the largest outside of Manhattan in New York. River North is also home to a large number of popular restaurants, bars and clubs which people from around the world come to visit.
The population of this Downtown Chicago neighborhood has increased significantly. In 2000, River North had a population of 9,835. By 2010 the population climbed 82% to 17,892 and the amount of high-rise condos and apartments has increased significantly. In fact, these high-rise condos and apartments keep coming.
The highlight of River North is its high-energy atmosphere, significantly large restaurant selection, high-end living and easy access to the subway and bus transit systems. It’s the easiest Downtown Chicago neighborhood to not own a car in and likely the most fun as a young professional without a family.
Visit the River North neighborhood page.