Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The Loop & Vicinity
Downtown In the case of Chicago,
downtown means the Loop. The
Loop refers literally to a core of pri-
marily commercial, governmental,
and cultural buildings contained
within a corral of elevated train
tracks, but greater downtown
Chicago overflows these confines
and is bounded by the Chicago
River to the north and west, by
Michigan Avenue to the east, and
by Roosevelt Avenue to the south.
The main attractions for families in
the Loop are Millennium Park, the
Art Institute, the Cultural Center,
and the Harold Washington
Library. If you are catching a show,
you'll find the revitalized theater
district in the North Loop. Mar-
shall Field's on State Street, famous
for its window decorations during
the holidays, anchors a strip of
retail shopping.
The North Side
Near North/Magnificent Mile
North Michigan Avenue is known
as the Magnificent Mile, from the
bridge spanning the Chicago River
to its northern tip at Oak Street.
Many of the city's best hotels,
shops, and restaurants are to be
found on and around elegant North
Michigan Avenue. Here you'll find
the Terra Museum of American Art
and the Museum of Contemporary
Art—but the focus is shopping, not
museums. The area stretching east
of Michigan Avenue to the lake is
also sometimes referred to as
“Streeterville”—the legacy of
George Wellington “Cap” Streeter,
an eccentric, bankrupt showman
who staked out 200 acres of self-
created landfill here about a century
ago after his steamship had run
aground on the shore, and then
declared himself “governor” of the
“District of Lake Michigan.” True
River North Just to the west of the
Mag Mile's zone of high life and
sophistication is an old warehouse
district called River North. It's also
the site of most chain restaurants
that cater to the kid set. Over the
past 15 to 20 years, the area has
experienced a rebirth as one of the
city's most vital commercial dis-
tricts, and today it is filled with
many of the city's hottest restau-
rants, nightspots, art galleries, and
loft dwellings. Several large-scale
residential loft-conversion develop-
ments have lately been sprouting on
its western and southwestern
The Gold Coast Some of Chicago's
most desirable real estate and his-
toric architecture are found along
Lake Shore Drive, between Oak
Street and North Avenue and along
the adjacent side streets. Despite
trendy little pockets of real estate
popping up elsewhere, the moneyed
class still prefers to live by the lake.
This residential area doesn't offer
much for kids, but it does have beau-
tiful scenic streets for walking.
On the neighborhood's western
edge, the northern stretch of State
Street just south of Division Street
has, in recent years, developed into a
thriving zone of restaurants, bars,
and nightclubs.
Old Town West of LaSalle Street,
principally on North Wells Street
between Division Street and North
Avenue, is the nightlife district of
Old Town. On Wells Street, a few
blocks east and a few blocks west of
North Avenue, you'll find plenty of
families and strollers during the
day. This area was a hippie haven in
the 1960s and '70s, but in recent
years its residential areas have been
rapidly gentrified as Cabrini Green,
America's most notorious housing
project, has finally fallen to the
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