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CPS Teacher Housing: Chicago Communities

With the "Loop", or downtown, as its center, Chicago is comprised of many "sides" of the compass — North, Northwest, West, South, Southwest and Southeast. There are 77 official communities in the city, each with its own rich history, culture, and distinctive style. Several contiguous Chicago communities each make up a unique side of Chicago.

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The North Side — On Chicago's trendy, densely populated north side, you are sure to find a variety of boutiques, restaurants, bars and exciting nightlife hot spots that attract both the young and old. Home to the Chicago Historical Society, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the city's "off Loop" theatre district, and Wrigley Field, the north side has a rich urban flair that makes it one of the most popular areas in town. Well-known communities include: Near North, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Lincoln Square, Rogers Park, Ravenswood, Andersonville, and Edgewater. Bordering northern suburbs include Evanston (home to Northwestern University) and Skokie.

The Northwest Side — Following the Kennedy Expressway - the main arterial of the northwest side - northwest from the downtown area, there is plenty of diversity in rich and bustling neighborhood life. One of many "bungalow belts" in the City, many modest communities exist alongside some of the most active and desirable areas of the City. Anchored by O'Hare Airport on the extreme northwest corner, this slice of Chicago includes such popular neighborhoods as Logan Square, Wicker Park, Bucktown and Sauganash.

The West Side — Chicago's West Side is home to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, the state-of-the-art hospital facilities of Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center and Stroger County Hospital, and media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey's HARPO Studios. Travel a little further west and you will find the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory, a 1.8 acre landmark structure that houses one of the largest botanical gardens under glass in the world. Other well-known West Side communities include the West Loop, Garfield Park, Lawndale, Humboldt Park, and Austin. A bordering Western suburb is Oak Park, noted for its rich architecture (including the celebrated home of Frank Lloyd Wright) and ethnic diversity.

The South Side — The South Side is not only the vibrant center of Chicago's African-American culture, particularly in the historic Grand Boulevard and Douglas communities, but also benefits from the prestige and diversity found on the University of Chicago's campus in neighboring Hyde Park. Further south, the beautiful South Shore Cultural Center sits majestically along the lakefront. Many new development projects are reclaiming the historic significance and cultural richness of these neighborhoods. Popular communities include: Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Grand Crossing, Oakland, Douglas, Woodlawn, South Shore, Chatham, South Chicago, Pullman, and Roseland.

The Southwest Side — This area has an extremely rich immigrant and industrial development history. Now, anchored by Chicago's second-busiest airport - Midway - this area continues to change and grow. Most of Chicago's fine "bungalow" style housing stock is found in this area, extending from the Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods close to the Loop, across the communities of Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Gage Park, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Brainerd, Gresham, and Washington Heights. Along the METRA commuter train line in the furthest southwest corner of the City, you'll find the Beverly, Morgan Park, and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods that feature many large, historic homes nestled close to forest preserves. Surrounding suburban areas include Evergreen Park, Blue Island, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Chicago Ridge, and Orland Park. Many great golf courses and forest preserves are located in this area!

The Southeast Side — The East Side, Hegewisch, Calumet Heights and South Deering communities make up this historic area where the rail and steel industries made their mark in the early 1900s. Large industrial installations maintain substantial operations here today, re-fueling the local economies and sustaining vibrant neighborhood life. Culturally diverse and located along Lake Michigan, a short hop across the state line to Indiana and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, this area has one of the most popular bird-watching sites in the country - especially during the spring and fall migrations - as well as many other natural recreation opportunities.

Downtown (The "Loop" Business/Residential/Entertainment District) — Chicago's downtown area is the true heart of the city. Here you will find the city's business and financial districts, as well as theaters, restaurants, museums, and the fabulous retail shops of the "Magnificent Mile" on North Michigan Avenue. The new downtown "Theater District" brings Broadway to Chicago with large, magnificent productions of musicals, such as "Aida" and "The Lion King". Navy Pier attracts people from all over to ride the giant Ferris wheel or to take a boat ride to get a unique view of the city. Other popular views of the city are offered at the Observatory Decks of the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building. Landmarks and sculpture dot this entire area. Seasonal events are held at the Daley Plaza and the new Millennium Park along the lake front. Chicago's downtown offers something exciting for everyone--whether new to the city or a long-time resident. A substantial amount of new residential housing has come to Chicago's downtown in recent years. Popular new residential areas include Central Station, Printers Row, and River North.

Want to Know More?

Sign up for a guided Neighborhood Tour ( ) organized by the City's Cultural Affairs Department. Receive a $5.00 CPS teacher discount! Many historically and culturally interesting neighborhoods are featured in the coming months.

For groups of 6 or less, you can arrange a personal tour — on foot or by making use of Chicago's awesome public transportation system — through Chicago Greeter ( ).

Check out this connection for excellent information about Chicago from the City of Chicago website before you start touring or in advance of your arrival in town.