River North, a Chicago Neighborhood Visit from Chicago Traveler

Chicago North River

River North, a Chicago Neighborhood Guide

by Zahra Ink - Chicago Writing Services

History

Chicago River

 

Chicago’s River North neighborhood got its start as an industrial area and later became a warehouse district. When the warehouses closed down in the 1970’s the large, empty buildings attracted various artists and writers looking for loft and studio space, thus creating a neighborhood that was artistic but also struggling.

Such was the River North neighborhood 30 years ago. Since then, however, River North has completely transformed from this simple beginning. It is now a chic, cultural hub filled with art galleries, antique stores, boutiques and of course urban professionals. Boasting Chicago’s highest concentration of restaurants, this small neighborhood has become a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike.

River North is aptly named; it lies north of the Loop, west of famed Michigan Avenue and south of Chicago Avenue, with the Chicago River as its boundary on the south and the west.

River North Neighborhood Video

Shopping

River North View Chicago

 

River North is an excellent destination for a day of antiquing. There are almost 20 separate antique stores or warehouses, each boasting an impressive inventory of antique furniture, paintings, prints and objets d’art. Try Cosulich Interiors & Antiques for European antiques, paintings, chandeliers and accessories from the 16th through 20th centuries and Christa’s Antiques for fine antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are furniture stores as well in River North; most of them are specialty stores, focusing on one aspect of home décor such as lighting, wooden furniture, beds, linens, etc. Some stores include The Ambiente Collection, Hastens Bed Shop and Luminaire.

The Merchandise Mart and the Apparel Center are havens for women’s and men’s fashion; there are also small independent boutiques such as En Vain, Clever Alice and Henry Beguelin that sell upscale apparel for men and women.

River North Restaurants

River North is filled with over 100 restaurants, in all genres of food, including American, Brazilian, Chinese, French, Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Spanish, Thai and even Vegetarian. Some of these are one of a kind restaurants that one can only find in Chicago, such as the Rockbottom Brewery, Ben Pao, Klay Oven (a South Indian restaurant), Chicago’s own Harry Caray’s Restaurant and House of Blues.

Some well known chain restaurants that are popular are Ed Debevic’s, Hard Rock Café and Rainforest Café. There are several bars and clubs in the area as well, including the Blue Frog Bar and Grill and O’Leary’s Public House, named for the owner of the infamous cow. (This cow has become a legendary culprit, blamed for knocking over a lantern and thus causing the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.)

Art Galleries

River North is home to one of the country’s largest collection of galleries, second only to New York. There are over 100 art galleries in this small neighborhood! In fact, the area is becoming known as SuHu, since most of the neighborhood’s galleries are located on or near Superior and Huron streets.

These art galleries are in fact distinct from one another; their owners are passionate about entirely different types and methods of art. The Alan Koppel Gallery features contemporary international artists, while the Kenneth Probst Gallery shows American and European Impressionist paintings. The ZG Gallery hosts group shows that touch upon a variety of themes (some past themes have included the use of color in contemporary abstract painting and the recuperative power of nature). Primitive Art Works features Tribal and Ethnic Artwork. The Bianca Pilat Gallery of Contemporary Art hosts large-scale prints and the Maya-Polsky Gallery hosts sculpture. Portals, Ltd is a unique gallery that features realist paintings, antique furniture and decorative arts; it is devoted to art lovers and collectors.

At River North you can find all the art in the world; you can also find the supplies to create your own. There are several shops in the area for art supplies and art paraphernalia.

Best River North Chicago Hotels

River North is one of the best areas in Chicago to book a hotel. This area is in the heart of downtown Chicago and within walking distance to a variety of the best Chicago attractions including the Magnificent Mile. Home to Chicago hotels such as the Trump Hotel, Hotel Felix and Sax Chicago Hotel, the best River North Chicago Hotels have it all.

The best River North Chicago hotels have state-of-the-art fitness centers that allow you to keep up your healthy regimen and popular on-site dining options to satisfy appetites. In addition, there are plenty of top Chicago dining and restaurants close to the best River North Chicago hotels. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago and other top places to see in Chicago while you're in the area. River North is also called "SuHu" because of its second place ranking only behind New York City for the largest number of art galleries.

Hotels near River North

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Hotel Info Nightly Rates*
MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel
4
Located in Gold Coast
View 1 Promo for this hotel -
 
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$239* Details
Best Western River North
3
Located in River North
View 1 Promo for this hotel -
 
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$180* Details
Ivy Hotel
4
Located in Gold Coast
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$209* Details
Avenue Crowne Plaza
4
Located in Gold Coast
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$171* Details
Allerton Hotel Chicago
4
Located in Gold Coast
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$222 you pay $167* Details

Restaurants near River North

Attractions near River North

Venue Info Location
Hancock Center Located in Gold Coast CulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of ChicagoRomanticScenicShopping

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Contemporary Art Museum Located in Gold Coast ArtsyCulturalHistoricMuseumSights of ChicagoRomantic

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Tastebud Food Tours ActiveCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of Chicago

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Chicago's Finest River Walk Located in The Loop ActiveFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of ChicagoScenic

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Joyce Walks Chicago Located in South Loop ActiveArtsyGrant ParkCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of ChicagoRomanticScenic

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Chase Limousine Tours Located in The Loop Family FriendlyHoliday FunNightlifeSights of ChicagoRomanticScenicSports

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Contemporary Art Museum Located in Gold Coast ArtsyCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseum

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Chicago Theatre Located in The Loop ArtsyChicago Theater DistrictCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of Chicago

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*Terms & Conditions: Offers, promotions and rates subject to change and may vary based upon date, length of stay and other factors. Some offers do not include taxes and fees. All offers based on availability and are subject to change without notice.

Community

Chicago Courtyard Marriott

River North, although a destination for tourists, is also home to a large number of locals. Primarily professionals who have chosen this neighborhood for its proximity to the Loop, River North inhabitants live in a variety of townhomes, mid-rise condos and warehouses that have been converted into upscale lofts.

One of the area’s landmarks is also a popular place to live; Marina City at 300 N. State Street at the Chicago River, watches over River North’s southern border. Often called the “Corncob Towers” for its unique design, these 60-story towers hold shops, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a skating rink, a marina and even a bowling alley. The entire complex, designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg, has often been called a microcosm because of all it offers.

River North Street Chicago

River North has a vibrant nightlife, as several of the restaurants in the area are open late and there are a number of clubs scattered throughout the neighborhood. Some of the better-known clubs include Excalibur and Sound-Bar, while those looking for a lounge atmosphere where the emphasis is less on dancing can visit Bin 36, Narcisse or the legendary House of Blues. On any given night, the crowd in these venues is a blend of locals and visitors.

The colorful, energetic neighborhood of River North is cultured by day and boisterous by night. The people who live in and visit this area know how to make the most of its extensive antique and art arena, as well as sit back and enjoy its festive nightlife. River North, like so many of Chicago’s neighborhoods, evades simple labeling and serves up different levels of entertainment.

Other Useful River North Resources