The West Loop started out as a warehouse district in the 1800’s but has since undergone a transformation from those days. Separated from downtown and bounded on the east by the Chicago River, the West Loop is characterized by luxury mid-rise apartments as well as a few lower-rent options. You’ll want to lock in your rental soon or even considering purchasing an apartment, as Google’s new 550,000 square foot Chicago headquarters is sending prices up at a fast pace. One-bedroom apartments can be rented for as low as $2,000 but you might find yourself smitten with something upwards of $3,000.
The West Loop Gate, later shortened to West Loop, began as an area where rail workers from the Loop chose built homes while staying within walking distance of work. In the late 19th century the area was considered part of the larger “Near West Side”, an area of diversity, wealthy Chicagoans built spacious homes and poorer migrant workers found affordable living all within close proximity of each other. In 1909 Daniel Burnham conceived of Chicago’s Master Plan, envisioning the area east of Ashland as the “gateway from the west into the Loop” or “West Loop Gate”. In 1961 the University of Illinois built their Chicago “Circle” campus nearby and brought a residential and commercial boom. The area is booming again, drawing in restaurants and wealthy young people.
Despite such a transformation, the area remains industrial and a little gritty, but many see that as part of its charm. Much like the Williamsburg neighborhood of New York, the close proximity to downtown makes for a quick commute to work, but there are green areas nearby like the gorgeous Union Park, which recently hosted the annual Pitchfork Music Festival. Randolph Street and Fulton Market radiate the ‘Restaurant Row’ moniker; home to the city’s best new restaurants, as well as great bars and nightlife. The West Loop is home to a blossoming art scene, with oodles of new galleries, boutiques, and antique stores. It is no wonder great apartments in the area get scooped up quickly.
All the changes in the West Loop lately have been for the better. “Restaurant Row” is constantly improving, stop into Avec for mouthwatering new-American food. They don’t take reservations; you can put your name down and head down Randolph for a drink at the RM Champagne Salon. Careful though, there’s so many good options: Maude’s Liquor Bar serves so much more than liquor, they’re known for their steak tartare, oysters, and foie gras as well. If you have an anniversary coming up, or maybe you just landed a job at the nearby Google HQ, celebrate at Grace, Curtis Duffy’s triple Michelin-starred gift to Chicago.