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Neighborhood Spotlight: The West Loop

Sawada coffee shop in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood

Sawada coffee shop in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood

Once-industrial and now turned-trendy, Chicago’s West Loop is one of the city’s most in-demand neighborhoods. A favorite of foodies, working professionals, tourists and residents alike, the West Loop has been transformed into a destination for experiences, events and culture. Today, we’ll explore the West Loop’s history, some spots that make it worth a visit and what to consider if you want to make it your home.

The History

As Chicago expanded during the 1800’s industrial era, the West Loop became an epicenter for agricultural processing and distributing. The Fulton-Randolph Market is the oldest and last example of the expansive wholesale markets that extended all over the neighborhood. Some of the warehouses and meatpacking buildings from this time still exist today, repurposed for residential or commercial space. As the Great Depression hit Chicago, the area’s economic activity slowed down, and the neighborhood was essentially abandoned until the 1980s. From there, restaurants, businesses and developers slowly began moving into the neighborhood to transform it into one of the hottest development areas in the city.

What to Explore

If you start with the restaurant scene, you can’t go wrong with Au Cheval’s burger, Girl & the Goat’s inventive menu or Monteverde’s renowned Italian fare. Any spot on Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row is sure to impress. During a typical summer, the streets are alive with concerts at Union Park, local festivals and farmers markets. Grab a drink at Punch Bowl Social’s vibrant, multicolored game bar or enjoy live music at Lazy Bird, the Hoxton’s basement speakeasy. If you need a few more ideas, Time Out Chicago has you covered.

What to Consider as a Resident

The West Loop has plenty of opportunities for buyers and renters alike, but expect a hefty price tag to go with the lifestyle. For the price, you get proximity to some of the city’s best restaurants, night life, cultural institutions, not to mention a quick commute into the Loop. The West Loop also includes some of the city’s best-rated schools, such as Skinner West Elementary and Whitney Young Magnet High School. As far as types of homes go, expect converted lofts, updated warehouses and luxury high-rises.

For a more in-detail history of the West Loop, check out this timeline from Neighbors of the West Loop. Stay tuned for more neighborhood spotlights to come on our blog!