River North Neighborhood

River North Neighborhood Border
As with most of Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, different people have different ideas of where the neighborhood begins and ends. For the purposes of this website, the River North neighborhood is bounded by the Chicago River on the south and west, Chicago Ave on the north and Michigan Ave  on the west.

River North is part of the Near North area on Chicago’s official neighborhood roster. Specifically, the River North neighborhood is the southern part of Near North. See the map below for additional details.

River North does not have a history as colorful as the Streeterville neighborhood; however, it is currently the most robust and high-energy Downtown Chicago neighborhood as of today. River North’s growth can be attributed to Chicago real estate developer Albert Friedman who in 1974 started to buy up, restore and build commercial property. Ever since, 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.

The River North neighborhood covers an area of approximately 0.333 square miles and has a population of 17,892. That comes out to be approximately 53,730 people per square mile, which is significantly higher than Chicago’s average of 11,919 people per square mile. As expected, the neighborhoods closest to downtown Chicago will be the most densely populated due to the demand for living close to the center of Chicago. A great positive about moving to the River North neighborhood is that it is the closest you can get to downtown Chicago with out being in the Loop. Additionally, there are a tremendous amount of bus routes and two subway routes (Brown Line and Blue Line) that run through it, so owning a car is not a necessity.

As with Streeterville, due to River North’s close proximity to downtown Chicago, the cost of living increase significantly relative to the more northern neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park or Lakeview. Rents typically range from $1,500 all the way up to $5,000 per month depending on the size, location and the level of luxury of the apartment building. Condos range from $300,000 to $1,000,000+ depending on your needs. Parking is relatively steep too, ranging from $150 to upwards of $400 per month. It’s not easy to see that River North is not the cheapest place to live, but what you’re paying for is convenience and closeness to downtown Chicago. This is the ideal place to move if you do not own a car and want to be close to downtown Chicago.

If you would like an enlarged map of the River North neighborhood, click on the following link to access a larger map of the River North neighborhood.

River North male versus female residents as a percentage of total residents in 2011.

River North male versus female residents as a percentage of total residents in 2011.

River North Demographics Discussion
I live in the Streeterville neighborhood, which is just east of the River North neighborhood closer towards Navy Pier. I can tell you first hand about the demographics of River North and then I can follow up with some statistics. As with many of the downtown Chicago neighborhoods, expect to see a large stream of tourists in certain parts. If pedestrian traffic is an issue for you, you can opt to move towards the northern part of River North. From my experience this area seems to be slightly quieter than the southern part of River North.

The River North neighborhood is largely populated by either young professionals or newly weds. In general, I have found everyone that I met in River North to be courteous, professional and outgoing. Additionally, the residents in this area tend to be active, whether its jogging, playing basketball or volleyball or walking the dog.

River North Demographic Summary
The demographics of River North are based off of 2011 data. As seen below, the median age in River North is far lower than that of Streeterville, implying that younger professionals seek to move to this neighborhood over Streeterville. This data is sourced from city-data.com.

River North race demographics in 2011.

River North race demographics in 2011.

  • Streeterville zip code is 60606 and 60610
  • Male population: 4,559 or 47%
  • Female population: 5,048 or 53%
  • Median male age: 33.0
  • Median female age: 31.8
  • Average household size: 1.7
  • % of family households: 28%
  • % of married couple households: 25.5%
  • % of married couples with children: 42.0%
  • % of never married males 15 years+: 22.2%
  • % of never married females 15 years+: 30.5%

There are many River North apartments (3,786 units in 2011, likely materially higher today) to choose from in River North when moving to the area. In 2011, apartment units comprised approximately 52% of the total housing inventory in the River North neighborhood. Over the last couple of years, apartment rental rates across the entire city of Chicago have sky-rocketed. In River North, back in 2011 the median monthly rental rate was $1,718.

When I was looking for an apartment to move to back in May 2013, I looked at 10 different apartment complexes and the lowest rental rate that I saw in the River North neighborhood was $2,200 per month (excluding water, garbage and other fees) for a ~850 square foot one bedroom. Although all of the units I saw were located in newer up-to-date buildings with plenty of amenities, so there may have been some justification on the pricing. Amenities included a gym, pool and spa and a common area for grilling. If you have a good rental agent, you may be able to save $50-$150 a month via rental concessions if the building needs renters. Before you move, it might be a good idea to contact a rental agency, given that it will not cost you anything (landlord pays the commission).

River North's share of apartment units versus the share of houses and condos.

River North’s share of apartment units versus the share of houses and condos.

I am in the process of creating a section detailing some of my favorite apartment buildings in the River North neighborhood. It will also include tips as to what to look for when selecting a place to live and updates of new developments in the area and which buildings will be giving concessions (incentives to move in such as a couple months free rent) for new renters. If you are moving to Downtown Chicago soon and need resources immediately, please feel free to contact me and I would be glad to point you in the right direction. Stay tuned.

If you are looking to purchase rather than rent, River North has many condos to choose from (approximately 3,550 units in 2011). There is a great selection of high-end condos to purchase in River North. Prices for condo units can range from $300,000 to $1,000,000+. As with the apartments detailed profile page, I will be creating a detailed profile page for condo buildings within the River North neighborhood. Stay tuned.

Keep in mind that you can also rent a condo in some cases where the owner has moved, but was unable to sell his/her property. Leading up to the financial crisis of 2007-2009, there were many condos purchased as an investment that were intended to be occupied by the owner. When the financial crisis hit, the resale market for these condo units declined significantly forcing many owners to rent at well below market levels. The market is not as good for renters as it was back then, but a very good deal comes up occasionally and sometimes you can score a beautiful unit at well below market rental rates. You can source these units on craigslist (not recommended if you are new to Chicago) or a really good rental broker that knows the market very well. Savings on these units can be material.