Ground-zero for the Great Chicago Fire, and the first neighborhood directly west of The Loop, the Near West Side has figured, primarily, as a center for industrial and commercial warehousing since the 19th century.
While some industry still remains—companies that supply meat and produce to local restaurants, a commercial brewery, and even a company that manufactures orchestra-quality harps—many of the area’s warehouses have been transformed into hip storefronts, cocktail bars, contemporary loft spaces, or removed altogether to make way for modern multi-unit complexes.
As large technology companies have opened regional offices in the area, the Near West Side has seen a great amount of investment and change in the recent past. Luxury residences, high-end cuisine, and trendy cafes all become more concentrated the closer you get to downtown. But the Randolph Street corridor, known as ‘Restaurant Row,’ is a welcome holdover from decades past and has remained as lively and dynamic as ever—with new offerings keeping things fresh on the regular.
The new tech-focused workforce has kept the demographics of the neighborhood fresh, as well. Young professionals have moved into the Near West Side right alongside folks who have been there for years, bringing a wide variety of experiences and culture together to create something entirely new. And when they all want to play, Union Park is right there with a playground, basketball and tennis courts, and the annual Pitchfork Music Festival, there for listening and dancing a weekend away.
The Near West Side is just a quick jump on I-290 to (or away from) The Loop and the CTA has you covered with the Blue, Green, and Pink “L” lines, and buses. And if you’re feeling cool, a quick bike ride may just be the hippest way to go.