Get to Know the Neighborhoods on the Chicago River
The Chicago River is getting a lot attention lately. Developers are aiming to make The 78, Chicago’s 78th neighborhood, and a swath of land along the North Branch of the river is being set aside for the ecologically focused Wild Mile. While these new developments are moving forward, people have been living in neighborhoods on the Chicago River for years. Meet some of these communities and see what the river means to them.
The south fork of the Chicago River serves as the eastern border of McKinley Park, while the north side of the neighborhood is separated from the South Branch of the river by I-55. The neighborhood has a quieter, more suburban feel than many of the city’s other communities. Residents can shop at Riverside Square & River’s Edge, home to a Mariano’s grocery store. Prices for newly built homes are hitting record highs in the neighborhood, thanks to its proximity to Pilsen and Bridgeport.
Bridgeport is bordered by the Chicago River to the west and north. The neighborhood is most well-known for being White Sox territory, but it also has plenty of parks, including Park No. 571 right on the South Branch of the river. The three-acre park has a boathouse with boat storage and rowing training. In addition to its parks, the neighborhood has a retail corridor set for a $3.8 million revamp.
Chinatown, bordered by the South Branch of the Chicago River to the west, could be connected to the South Loop by The 78. In addition to being a major cultural hub, the neighborhood is also home to the riverside Ping Tom Memorial Park, which has walking paths right by the river and a boathouse with summertime kayak rentals. The neighborhood also has its own water taxi stop.
The South Loop, a large neighborhood running alongside the river, is a Chicago hotspot. The neighborhood is getting a new luxury condo tower (1000M) and the big Riverline project. The Riverline will bring thousands of homes to the neighborhood and expanded water access through a riverwalk, kayak launch, and water taxi stop.
The West Loop, bordered by the river on the east, is home to Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row and an active nightlife. Like its neighbor the South Loop, West Loop is a favorite for luxury condo construction. For example, Hayden West Loop is going up at 1115 W. Washington Blvd.
The North Branch of the river hugs River North to the west, while the split of the river heading to join Lake Michigan borders the neighborhood to the south. As the neighborhood suggests, the river is an integral part of the community. A good part of the famous Chicago Riverwalk runs along the southern border of the neighborhood. Residents can also enjoy the river at the three-acre Ward (A. Montgomery) Park on the northwest side of the neighborhood.
The river serves as the eastern border of River West, a small slice of neighborhood that grew around the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Though rising from a largely industrial area, River West has a number of worthy places to eat and drink (try Big Shoulders Coffee on Milwaukee Avenue).
From above, Bucktown doesn’t look dissimilar from a slice of pizza. The divisions between Logan Square and Wicker Park are relatively straight, while the North Branch of the river serves as the wavy eastern border of the triangular neighborhood. For some riverside entertainment, the neighborhood has Diversey River Bowl.
The river runs along the entire eastern side of Avondale, which is Logan Square’s quieter but still undeniably cool neighbor. Residents who enjoy a drink with a view can sip on craft beer in the riverfront taproom at Metropolitan Brewing.
Horner Park is split nearly in half by the Chicago River, and the western half of the neighborhood is dominated by its namesake park. Horner Park has a big collection of sports fields and picnic groves, plus beautiful river views. The eastern side of the neighborhood is largely residential, though you’ll find places to eat along Western Avenue, the eastern border of the neighborhood.