Experiencing the urban-industrial charm of Chicago is as easy as renting a Near West Side apartment. This neighborhood started off as a mad stew of European immigration; you can still find some of that delicious history in Greektown and Little Italy. Other elements of old Chicago have been upgraded or redeveloped here. The University of Illinois at Chicago, the Illinois Medical District, and the United Center—where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks play—all fit Tetris-style into this eclectic area.
This neighborhood holds more than its share of history. It was in a barn in the Near West Side that the Great Chicago Fire started. Jane Addams and Ellen Star founded Hull House, America’s first settlement house, in Near West Side slums. The Haymarket affair—an anarchist bombing—shed blood on neighborhood streets. While the Near West Side has been industrial and impoverished, that’s hardly how it is today. These days, this neighborhood offers a diverse array of eats, arts, and apartment options for the city savant.
Most Chicagoans make pilgrimages to the Near West Side for its fantastic food. Little Italy packs in restaurants such as Rosebud, Pompei, and Francesca’s. The frozen lemonade at Mario’s is also popular. The Parthenon in Greektown may be the city’s best place for a later night feast. Restaurants in this area tend to stay open into the night. Other eateries here serve up more modern meals—try Moto and Blackbird.
In terms of entertainment, the Cobra Lounge stages live music. You’ll find sports bars and clubs in the Near West Side, too. And don’t forget the professional sports and concerts at the United Center! The Near West Side isn’t great for shopping, however. For green space, small, welcoming parks like Skinner and Sangamon dot the area.
The Near West Side is a mixed-income, diverse area. You’ll find new residential developments built on top of old Chicago neighborhoods here. Rental options include loft condos, apartments, and landmark row houses. What you pay to live in the Near West Side will vary as you move between its sub-neighborhoods. Average rents here go as high as $1,424 or can be as much as $300 cheaper in other parts.
If you’re commuting, Green, Pink, and Blue Line ‘L’ trains run through the Near West Side. Chicago Union Station is on the neighborhood’s eastern edge. You can catch Metra and Amtrak trains there. The Near West Side is also well served by city buses.
The Near West Side falls within three Chicago City Council wards—the 2nd, the 25th, and the 27th. There are three branches of the Chicago Public Library in the neighborhood, the Manning, the Lozano, and the Roosevelt. Chicago’s main Post Office is on West Harrison Street. That’s the only 24-hour post office in the United States. The Illinois Medical District is here as well—one of the largest medical districts in the country.
Zip codes serving Near West Side are 60606, 60607, 60608, 60612, and 60661.