Chicago Loop in Chicago
The Loop or Chicago Loop is one of 77 officially designated Chicago community areas located in the City of Chicago, Illinois. It is the historic commercial center of downtown Chicago. It is the seat of government for Chicago and Cook County, as well as the historic theater and shopping district (including State Street, "that great street" in the words of the song made famous by Frank Sinatra).
As established in social research done by the University of Chicago in the 1920s, the Loop is a defined community area of Chicago. Chicago's central business district community area is bounded on the west and north by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road, although the commercial core has expanded into adjacent community areas.
The community area includes Grant Park and one of the largest art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago. Other major cultural institutions that call this area home include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Goodman Theater, the Joffrey Ballet, the central public Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center.
In what is now the Loop Community Area, on the southern banks of the Chicago River, near today's Michigan Avenue Bridge, the U.S. Army erected Fort Dearborn in 1803. It was the first settlement in the area sponsored by the United States.
It is believed the origin of the term loop is derived from the cable car turning loops in the central business district, and especially those of two lines that shared a loop, constructed in 1882, bounded by Madison, Wabash, State, and Lake. Other research has concluded that "the Loop" was not used as a proper noun until after the 1895–97 construction of the Union elevated railway loop.
According to the 2000 census, 16,388 people live in the Loop. The median sale price for residential real estate was $710,000 in 2005 according to Forbes.
Loop architecture has been dominated by high-rises since early in its history. Notable buildings include the Home Insurance Building, considered the first skyscraper (demolished in 1931); the Chicago Board of Trade Building, a National Historic Landmark; and Willis Tower, the tallest in the United States. Some of the historic buildings in this district were instrumental in the development of high-rises. Chicago's street numbering system - dividing addresses into North, South, East and West quadrants, originates in the Loop at the intersection of State Street and Madison Street.
This area abounds in shopping opportunities, including the Loop Retail Historic District, although it competes with the more upscale Magnificent Mile area to the north, and with suburban shopping malls. It includes Chicago's former Marshall Field's department store location in the Marshall Field and Company Building; the original Sullivan Center Carson Pirie Scott store location (closed February 21, 2007); and Sears on State. Chicago's Downtown Theatre District is also found within this area, along with numerous restaurants and hotels.
Chicago has a famous skyline which features many of the tallest buildings in the world as well as the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District. Chicago's skyline is spaced out throughout the downtown area, giving it a graceful bridgelike appearance. The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the United States, stands at the west end of the Loop in the heart of the city's financial district, along with other buildings, such as 311 South Wacker Drive and the AT&T Corporate Center.
Chicago's third tallest building, the Aon Center, is located just south of Illinois Center. The complex is at the east end of the Loop, east of Michigan Avenue. Two Prudential Plaza is also located here, just to the west of the Aon Center.
The Loop contains a wealth of outdoor sculpture, including works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, and Jean Dubuffet. Chicago's cultural heavyweights, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Goodman Theatre, the Chicago Theatre, the Lyric Opera at the Civic Opera House building, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, are also in this area, as is the historic Palmer House Hilton hotel, found on East Monroe Street.
Chicago's lakefront, which is almost exclusively recreational park area from north to south, features Grant Park in this downtown area. Grant Park is the home of Buckingham Fountain, the Petrillo Bandshell, the Grant Park Symphony (where free concerts can be enjoyed throughout the summer), and Chicago's annual two-week food festival, the Taste of Chicago, where more than 3 million people try foods from over 70 vendors. A recent addition to Grant Park is the architecturally forward Millennium Park, which opened in the summer of 2004, featuring a Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture and spanning what were formerly open railyards on the city's lakefront.
The Chicago River, which delineates the area, also provides entertainment and recreational opportunities, including the annual dyeing of the river green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Trips down the Chicago River, including architectural tours, by commercial boat operators are great favorites with both locals and tourists.
The Loop is the seat of Chicago's government. It is also the government seat of Cook County, Illinois and houses an office for the governor of the State of Illinois. The century old City Hall/County Building houses the chambers of the Mayor, City Council and County Board.
Across the street, the Richard J. Daley Center accommodates a famous Picasso sculpture and the state law courts. Given its proximity to government offices, the Center's plaza serves as a kind of town square for celebrations, protests and other events.
The nearby James R. Thompson Center is the city headquarters for state government, with an office for the Governor. Many state agencies have offices here, including the Illinois State Board of Education.
A few blocks away is the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse housing federal law courts and other federal government offices. This is the seat of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Kluczynski Federal Building is across the street. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is located on LaSalle Street in the heart of the financial district. The United States Postal Service operates the Loop Station Post Office at 211 South Clark Street.
In addition to the government, financial, theatre and shopping districts, these neighborhoods are also part of the Loop community area.
Near East Side
The Near East Side is a mixed-use district bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, the Chicago River to the north, Randolph Street to the south, and Lake Shore Drive to the east. It encompasses the entire Illinois Center and Lakeshore East developments, as well as separate developments like Aon Center, Prudential Plaza, Park Millennium Condominium Building, Hyatt Regency Chicago, and the Fairmont Hotel. The area has a triple-level street system and is bisected by Columbus Drive. Most of this district has been developed on land that was once used by the Illinois Central Railroad rail yards. The early buildings in this district such as the Aon Center and One Prudential Plaza used airspace rights in order to build above the railyards.
The triple-level street system allows for trucks to mainly travel and make deliveries on the lower levels, keeping traffic to a minimum on the upper levels.
Upcoming buildings include the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Tower and the Aqua building, part of Lake Shore East that is being built by Magellan development. Construction has begun on Aqua, with an expected completion date in 2009. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel & Tower project is struggling with financing.
The Near East Side is served by the following Chicago Public Schools: Ogden School and Wells Community Academy High School.
Printer's Row, also known as Printing House Row, is a neighborhood located in the southern portion of the Loop community area of Chicago. It is centered on Dearborn Street from Congress Parkway on the north to Polk Street on the south, and includes buildings along Plymouth Court on the east and Federal Street to the west. Most of the buildings in this area were built between 1886 and 1915 to house printing, publishing, and related businesses. Today, the buildings have mainly been converted into residential lofts. Part of Printer's Row is an official landmark district, the Printing House Row District. The annual Printer's Row Book Fair is held in early June along Dearborn Street.
Printer's Row is zoned to the following Chicago Public Schools: South Loop School and Phillips Academy High School.
Dearborn Station at the end of Printers row, in the South Loop Printing House District, is the oldest train station still standing in Chicago; it has been converted to retail and office space. Most of the area south of Congress Parkway and east of the Chicago River, excepting Printer's Row, is referred to as the South Loop. The southern boundary of the neighborhood is under debate. While the southern boundary for the community area is Roosevelt Road, the term "South Loop" is often used to describe an area that extends as far south as 18th Street or Cermak Road. Numerous shops south of Roosevelt Road with "South Loop" in their name hint that this more generous definition may be gaining recognition.
The more restrictively-defined area includes River City, the northern half of Dearborn Park, and portions of State Street, Wabash Avenue, and Michigan Avenue. The more generous definitions would include the Central Station development, Dearborn Park II, the Prairie District, and even the northern growth of Chinatown.
The major landowner in the South Loop is Columbia College Chicago, a private school that owns 17 buildings. Also to be found here is the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, championed by Mayor Daley.
South Loop is zoned to the following Chicago Public Schools: South Loop School and Phillips Academy High School. Jones College Prep High School, which is a selective enrollment magnet school drawing students from the entire city, is also located in the South Loop.
The South Loop was historically home to vice districts, including the brothels, bars, burlesque theaters, and arcades. Inexpensive residential hotels on Van Buren and State Street made it one of the city's Skid Rows until the 1970s. One of the largest homeless shelters in the city, the Pacific Garden Mission, was located at State and Balbo from 1923 to 2007. The new location is further south and across the Chicago River, at 1458 S. Canal St.
The Chicago Journal newspaper covers the neighborhood and other urban communities.
West Loop Gate / West Loop
Often called just "the West Loop," West Loop Gate is in the Near West Side community area along the western bank of the Chicago River. It is bounded by Grand Avenue on the north, the Ashland Avenue on the west, the Eisenhower Expressway on the south and the Chicago River on the east.
A former manufacturing corridor turned art-edgy neighborhood, the area consists primarily of warehouses that are still in use or have been converted to loft condominiums (loftominiums), restaurants, night clubs, art galleries, and some retail. It is also the home of Harpo Studios, owned by well known talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and the production site of her syndicated television show.
Historic Michigan Boulevard District
The Loop also contains the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District, which is the section of Michigan Avenue opposite Grant Park and Millennium Park.
The Chicago Loop is the second largest commercial business district in the United States, after New York City's Midtown Manhattan. Its financial district near LaSalle Street is home to the CME Group's Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Aon Corporation maintains its headquarters in the Aon Center. CHASE Bank has its commercial and retail banking headquarters in Chase Tower. Exelon also has its headquarters in the Chase Tower. United Airlines has its headquarters in 77 West Wacker Drive. United moved its headquarters to Chicago from Elk Grove Township, Illinois in early 2007. In addition United's parent company, United Continental Holdings, also has its headquarters in 77 West Wacker. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has its headquarters in the Michigan Plaza complex. Sidley Austin has its headquarters in the One South Dearborn building in the Chicago Loop. Morton Salt has its headquarters in the Chicago Loop.
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is located in an office in the Aon Center, the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago has an office in 35 East Wacker, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in the United States is located in an office at 303 East Wacker Drive, and the US Mexico Chamber of Commerce Mid-America Chapter is located in an office in One Prudential Plaza.
Previously the grocery store company Red & White once had its headquarters in the Loop. McDonald's was headquartered in the Chicago Loop until 1971, when it moved to Oak Brook, Illinois. When Bank One Corporation existed, its headquarters were in the Bank One Plaza (now Chase Tower). When Amoco existed, its headquarters were in the Amoco Building (now the Aon Center).
Several countries maintain consulates in the Chicago Loop. They include Argentina, Australia, Brazil Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Israel, the Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, India, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, and Venezuela. In addition the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of the Republic of China is in the Chicago Loop.
Colleges and universities
Roosevelt University, Columbia College Chicago, and Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy are all located in the Chicago Loop. DePaul University also has a campus in the Loop.
National-Louis University is located in the historic Peoples Gas Building on Michigan Avenue across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the nation's largest independent schools of art and design, is headquartered in Grant Park.
Harold Washington College is a City Colleges of Chicago community college located in the Loop. Adler School of Professional Psychology is a college located in the Loop.
Robert Morris University (Illinois) is located here. Argosy University has its head offices on the thirteenth floor of 205 North Michigan Avenue in Michigan Plaza. Harrington College of Design is located at 200 West Madison Street after relocating from the Merchandise Mart. Trinity Christian College offers an accelerated teaching certification program at 1550 S. State Street in the South Loop.
Primary and secondary schools
Chicago Public Schools serves residents of the Chicago Loop. Its main administrative offices are in the 125 South Clark Street Building in the Chicago Loop.
Some residents are zoned to the South Loop School in the Chicago Loop, while some are zoned to the Ogden School. Some residents are zoned to Phillips Academy High School, while others are zoned to Wells Community Academy High School.
Jones College Prep High School, a public, selective enrollment school is also located here. Muchin College prep (1 of the 10 Noble Charter Schools) is located right in the heart of the city where the North, South, East, and West side meet.
Notable landmarks in the Chicago Loop
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Auditorium Building
- Buckingham Fountain
- Carbide & Carbon Building
- Willis Tower - formerly the Sears Tower
- Chicago Loop Alliance
- Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance Website
- City of Chicago Loop Community Map
- Rand McNally 1893 Loop Sketches