Welcome to River North, one of Chicago's most buzz-worthy neighborhoods. Up until the mid-1990s, the area just north of the Loop was known mostly for its corporate culture, celebrity-chef driven restaurants and tourist attractions. While businesses, high-profile eateries and visitor interest continue to thrive, the area is now the pulse of Chicago's nightlife scene. It's home to the most after-hours bars in the city, as well as sports taverns, cocktail lounges and dance clubs, attracting a large number of young professionals. You're also likely to spot A-list stars in River North, as they favor the many sleek, upscale boutique hotels in the neighborhood. The affluent River North neighborhood is part of the Near North Side community, which also includes Gold Coast, Streeterville, the Magnificent Mile, Old Town and SoNo (South of North Avenue).
River North at night (Photo courtesy of Aurimas)
River North's boundaries are the Chicago River to the west, Michigan Avenue to the east, Oak Street to the North and the Chicago River to the south. The neighborhood is adjacent to downtown, which is also known as the Chicago Loop.
While River North is known for its vibrant dining, drinking and entertainment scenes, it's also a very livable area of Chicago, with many quiet residential blocks consisting of luxury highrises, brownstones and more traditional apartment buildings. Trendy restaurants, bars, art galleries, gyms and boutiques have helped establish River North as a place in which people want to be seen. Surrounding neighborhoods: Gold Coast, Loop, River West, Streeterville.
Famed chef Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill is in River North. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Patrick)
With so many businesses concentrated in River North, there are few parks in the area. Montgomery Ward Park (630 N. Kingsbury Street), which attracts the stroller set, is one of the most significant and is very close to the Chicago River. The neighborhood restaurants are family-friendly too, in the sense that a number offer children's menus.
River North during the day (Photo courtesy of Kiwithing)
In River North, 40% of the population is single, with the rest either married, divorced or widowed. Just over 70% of the population is without kids.
River North is close to the Kennedy Expressway (via Ontario Street), which connects to I-90 and I-290. The neighborhood is within walking distance to both Metra and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rapid transit stations (Blue Line, Brown Line and Red Line). A public transportation commute to O'Hare Airport from River North takes approximately 40 minutes via the Blue Line. The Loop is only .5 miles away and easily accessible via the 22-Clark, 36-Broadway or 156-LaSalle bus lines. River North is approximately 5 miles away from the Lakeview neighborhood, which is easily accessible via the Red Line.
The heart of River North is Hubbard Street, which is lined with trendy restaurants and cocktail lounges from State to LaSalle streets. Some of the more popular hot spots include Boss Bar, Hubbard Inn, Paris Club and Hub 51. The area is also home to celebrity chef Rick Bayless' restaurants Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco. The neighborhood is filled with art galleries, blues clubs, boutique gyms and one-of-a-kind clothing stores. With so many businesses and residences concentrated in the area, parking is challenging in River North. Though there are parking lots and most restaurants and bars offer valet service, consider public transportation when heading out for the evening.
At the turn of the 20th century, River North was named Smokey Hollow because of the many factories and warehouses operating with active smokestacks in the area. The name changed in the early 1970s when real estate developer Albert Friedman transformed the neighborhood into a commercial landscape, luring ad agencies, gallery owners and other artsy types willing to do business there because the rents were cheap. It slowly developed into the commercial and residential success it is today, with the area experiencing its biggest boon between 2000 and 2010. During that period, the population of River North increased from 9,835 to 17,892.
735 N. State St. - Holy Name Cathedral is headquarters to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States.
65 E. Huron St. - St. James Cathedral is home to the oldest and largest Episcopal congregation in Chicago. It forms the Cathedral District of Chicago with Holy Name Cathedral.
222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza - Merchandise Mart is the world's leading owner and operator of showroom buildings and trade show facilities.
600 W. Kinzie St.: Blommer Chocolate Co. is the largest cocoa processor and chocolate-ingredient supplier in North America.
Superior and Huron streets between Wells and Orleans streets: River North Gallery District is home to the largest concentration of galleries outside of Manhattan.