History and Background

The Loop is the downtown, and heart of commerce for the city of Chicago. It received its name for the “El” train lines that encircle it in a loop of elevated tracks. It’s home to the seat of the Cook County and Chicago governments, along with the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which help make downtown Chicago the second largest commercial district in America.

chicago skyline at dusk

The Loop is loosely bordered to the north and west by the Chicago River, to the east by Lake Michigan, and to the south by Roosevelt Road. It has a population of around 30,000 full-time residents, and is itself divided into sub-neighborhoods, such as the residential Printer’s Row and South Loop areas, and the upscale start up and fine dining hub of the West Loop.

Buying residential property in The Loop won’t be cheap, with Trulia showing median listing prices that near $800,000 on some premium downtown blocks. However, some sub-neighborhoods, like Printer’s Row, have median listing prices that sit around $300,000. If homeownership in the Loop isn’t a possible or desirable option, a healthy rental market in the district will allow you to live in the thick of downtown for a median monthly two-bedroom rent of $2,600.

Culture and Attractions

As Chicago’s centerpiece, The Loop serves as a tourist hub for the city, boasting plenty of cultural attractions and entertainment for visitors and locals alike. To begin with, The Loop is the home of Millennium Park. The park contains a modern sculpture garden, where visitors will find human faces the size of small buildings spouting streams of water, and Cloud Gate (colloquially called “The Bean”), a massive, mirror sculpture that reflects the entirety of the Chicago skyline in its bending exterior. Additionally, the outdoor Pritzker Pavilion seats up to 11,000 guests for free summer concerts, films, and theatrical performances.

Millennium park isn’t the only place to find art in The Loop. Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is just one of the city’s world renowned museums. Beyond the giant, bronze lions guarding its doors, the museum presents work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Van Gogh, and Dalí, to name just a few. The Loop is also home to annual cultural events, such as the Chicago International Film Festival, where foreign directors and film actors attend panels about and screenings of their never before seen work.

Fine dining is of no short supply in this Chicago neighborhood. Home to the West Loop and the Fulton Market District, The Loop contains the best in midwestern, high-end dining. Restaurants such as Girl & The Goat, La Sirena Clandestina, and Momotaro serve up international delicacies in impressively fashionable environments, while establishments such as High Five Ramen show an edgier side to The Loop’s food scene.

Nightlife is no stranger to The Loop either, with clubs and bars of all kinds littered around the district. From speakeasy to sports bar to rooftop club, there’s options for all tastes when it comes to grabbing a drink. Abundant music venues make nighttime entertainment easy in The Loop. From a rock show at the beautiful Chicago Theater to a DJ night at TheWit, a quick online search should yield options on any given night in such an action-packed Chicago neighborhood.

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