What is River North in Chicago?

River North, Chicago, situated directly north of the  Loop, may reign as one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the Windy City- from its rich history to its exponential growth and unceasing popularity.

The Luxury Living Team is here to dive into the question, “what is River North in Chicago?”

Overview and History of the Neighborhood

As the city’s fastest and largest growing neighborhoods, this vibrant area has become a hub for young professionals, art lovers, and foodies taking advantage of the area’s incredible dining, nightlife, galleries, and central location.

River North truly began to evolve into the neighborhood it is today after the Chicago Fire of 1871.  Following the catastrophe, River North quickly began to rebuild and introduce municipal buildings, housing for workers, warehouses, shipping facilities, and railroad tracks. Eventually, the industrial area became a warehouse district, with the construction of the Merchandise Mart, a 25-story building storing many of the city’s goods.

The Merchandise Mart opened its doors in 1930 as the world’s largest building at 4,200,000 square feet and spanning two city blocks. Originally the Merchandise Mart was intended to consolidate wholesale activities, but the Great Depression led to many of the shops closing its doors and the federal government leasing the vacant spaces.

In 1945 Joseph P. Kennedy revitalized the original commercial concept and gradually re-opened it to the public. Showrooms thrived with conventions and events, and the building became famous as a media center, hosting Chicago’s NBC studios. The Kennedys eventually sold the Mart to Vornado Realty Trust in 1998.

Today the Merchandise Mart remains a hub for design in River North and additionally houses numerous restaurants, companies, and the Illinois Institute of Art.

Why People Come to River North

The River North neighborhood has plenty to offer residents and guests alike.

Proclaimed foodies venture over to the neighborhood to enjoy the impressive dining, including multiple Michelin rated restaurants like Siena Tavern and RPM Steak

Art lovers from across the globe have stepped inside the numerous art galleries situated in the River North neighborhood. In fact, the River North Gallery District boasts the largest concentration of art galleries in the United States after Manhattan. Within this infamous art district, you can find long-standing art galleries, exclusive pop-up exhibitions, and free art tours.

Why River North has Grown so Much

While the expansion of art galleries has contributed to River North’s exponential growth, other improvements in the neighborhood also helped enhance the area and attract more people.

The success of the Merchandise Mart was a huge catalyst behind River North’s growth spurt attracting new businesses, employees, and residents.

As more people began relocating to the neighborhood word of the phenomenal location began spreading like wildfire.

River North offers a central location with easy access to Lake Michigan, the river, the Loop, and other Chicago neighborhoods. Additionally, with a wave of new residential construction in the area, River North offers premier living opportunities.

Discover for yourself what River North is and why this Chicago neighborhood is worth all the hype.

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