River North

The area was replete with warehouses and shipping facilities that serviced the port of Chicago.

Welcome to River North

A vibrant neighborhood with an active nightlife. Explore River North Chicago real estate! 


Today’s River North is a far cry from its origins as a factory and warehouse district, nick-named “Smokey Hollow” due to the thick smoke that was emitted from the host of factories. The area was replete with warehouses and shipping facilities that serviced the port of Chicago and was considered a transportation hub with a myriad of train lines connecting many neighboring cities.
 In the 1880s the area attracted many Sicilians, who brought a culture of great food and wine to the area and was dubbed “Little Sicily.” By the turn of the century, there was an escalation of gang and mob activity, and with prohibition came speakeasies and bootleggers. Being a transportation hub, it was an ideal center for bootlegging. The neighborhood devolved into the underbelly of the city, rampant with mobsters, the likes of Al Capone. In fact, River North was the site of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In 1930, Marshall Field & Co built The Merchandise Mart (aka ”The Mart”) to consolidate its wholesale activities. Spanning two city blocks with 4 million SF of floor space, it was the largest commercial building in the world. The stately deco building was designed to replace the unsightly train yard that was there and to beautify the riverfront. In the 1940s, the Kennedy family purchased the building and converted it into showrooms for the design industry, hosting national design conventions and boosting tourism. Today, The Mart continues its tradition as a design center along with the many design showrooms that have sprouted around it. 
In the early to mid-1900s, the port of Chicago was relocated and industries failed due to a slowing economy. Buildings were abandoned and the area became rife with prostitution and drug trafficking. 
Redevelopment and gentrification began with the construction of the iconic twin residential towers, known as Marina City, in 1964. In the early 70s, the abandoned warehouses and factories were bought up by developers and restored into commercial buildings and offices. Photographers, art galleries and advertising agencies moved into the low-rent buildings, and the Gallery District was born.
Next, in 1980, The East Bank Club, an exclusive 350,000 sf health club, with a state-of-the-art fitness center, swimming pools, and dining options, opened along the river on the west end. Professionals from the loop had a reason to stay in the city after work, and its popularity fueled a surge of new restaurants and bars. In the 1990s, housing development began and the neighborhood was transformed. Today, the River North Chicago real estate market offers housing options for young professionals and luxury buyers. 


Located just over the river from Chicago’s central business district is “The Loop.” The River North Chicago real estate market extends from the north bank of the main artery of the Chicago River, north to Chicago Ave., east to Michigan Ave., and west to the north branch of the Chicago River. River North neighbors the Gold Coast to the north and Streeterville to the east.

The Vibe & Housing Style

This Chicago neighborhood is known for its upbeat energy, artistic culture, and booming nightlife scene. The dynamic pulse of this neighborhood attracts young urban professionals, those looking for an “in-town” and anyone who loves being right smack in the middle of it all
Housing options on the River North Chicago real estate market include loft conversions, townhomes, and modern high-rises, including some of the most luxurious residential buildings in Chicago.

Local Lifestyle

River North has built a reputation as the place to be for a fun night out. It also boasts the largest concentration of art galleries in the United States after Manhattan. Within the art district, you can find long-standing art galleries, exclusive pop-up exhibitions, and free art tours. On Friday evenings, the scores of galleries often host exhibits, opening receptions and art walks.
The most recent improvement to the River North neighborhood was the redevelopment of The Chicago Riverwalk , a multi-use public space located on the bank of the main branch of the Chicago River, extending from Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan to Lake Street. The Riverfront pathway features dining and city views, fishing piers, bridges and boat docks, adding a whole new dimension to the neighborhood.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping 

There is no reason to leave River North when looking for good dining and entertainment. Restaurants like Sunda, for Asian-fusion dining, Topolobampo for fine Mexican cuisine, Bavette's a French-inspired steakhouse and Shaw’s Crab House, the place to go for seafood, are long-time favorites.
A day in River North can include a variety of activities from gallery hopping, shopping in the design district, walks along the Riverwalk or river cruises, to health and wellness endeavors at either of two exclusive clubs. East Bank Club, is considered Chicago’s premier health club; it covers 2 city blocks and offers state-of-the-art exercise facilities as well as dining options. Bian a unique members-only wellness club, focusing on health and social well-being, offers an array of services. 
The place to go for a family-friendly time outdoors is Montgomery Ward Park. With a fairly new playground, the location is a fun spot for kids and families to enjoy a nice day outside.

Nighttime entertainment runs the gamut from Tao, a popular dance club housed in a former church, to The Drifter, an authentic 20s era Speakeasy in the bottom of the Green Door Tavern, featuring craft cocktails and burlesque-style entertainment, to Andy’s a live jazz club.

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