Living In River North
Nestled cozily on the north bank of the Chicago river, the aptly named River North neighborhood is part of the core group of neighborhoods most people envision when they think about Chicago.
Filled with towering, bejeweled skyscrapers and dotted by welcoming commercial spaces and delicious restaurants, the history, richness and walkability of the area make living in River North worth considering.
Bordered by the Chicago River on its west and south sides, River North real estate is synonymous with technology and progress.
The neighborhood contains one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the city, with giants such as Groupon, Twitter, Motorola calling it home.
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In a city renowned for its architecture, River North real estate does not disappoint. The area boasts many of Chicago’s iconic landmarks.
If height is your thing, Trump Tower holds the neighborhood’s title, though it falls just short of the Willis Tower’s (Sears Tower, for the old school among you) distinction as second-tallest in the country. However, what the Trump lacks in size is made up for in stature by heavyweights like the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and Holy Name Cathedral.
The Wrigley Building
The Wrigley Building holds the unique honor of being the founding member of River North.
When they broke ground in 1920, there were no other major office buildings and the Michigan Avenue bridge was still under construction. The land was personally selected by William Wrigley Jr. to serve as his company’s headquarters. And it was designed by famous architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst, & White.
Fun trivia fact: the Wrigley Building was Chicago’s first air conditioned office building.
This Wrigley tradition of being would echo for years and include Wrigley Chewing Gum’s place in history as the first item scanned via UPC barcode in 1974.
Holy Name Cathedral
Likewise, Holy Name Cathedral is a place steeped in history and lore.
The seat of the Archdiocese of Chicago (among the largest Roman Catholic dioceses) opens its doors to all and ensures those living in the River North have a quiet place to reflect. Though the parish was founded in 1843, it was dedicated 1875 following the loss of the Cathedral of Saint Mary in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Ironically, Holy Name was almost lost to fire as well in February of 2009 when a fire broke out in its attic just before sunrise. Holy Name stands today because of the actions of a few brave Chicago Firefighters who broke protocol and entered the blazing attic without their helmets or oxygen tanks. By all accounts, their actions saved this icon of River North.
Designer Buildings & Iconic Architecture
Of course, living in River North wasn’t always designer buildings and iconic architecture.
At the turn of the 20th Century, River North was previously known as Smokey Hollow after its dubious distinction as an industrial and transportation hub.
Marked by factories and forges, and scarred by train yards and rail ways, Smokey Hollow’s role connecting Chicago’s ports to the surrounding areas would make it so the smog was so thick it would often blot out the sun.
In lieu of the homes and shops those living in River North see today, a visitor to Smokey Hollow would’ve seen massive coal bins sprawling across the area.
Even the world famous Merchandise Mart has ignominious roots as a giant storage warehouse, its long unused railroad tracks slumbering beneath its footprint.
Elegant Style & Modern Convenience
Modern residents living in River North may find it difficult to visualize their home as the setting of some dystopian fiction. Today, one of River North’s signature characteristics is its meshing of elegant style with modern convenience.
For example, The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is one of the few places remaining where you can enter to view firsthand the magnificence of the Gilded Age of River North. Housed in the restored mansion of wealthy 1883 banker Samuel Nickerson, the museum highlights the prevailing design of the age replete with marble, onyx, exotic wood, glazed tile, and stained glass. On top of the architecture and design, the museum is the permanent home of art work from the private Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts.
This being Chicago, one would be forgiven for thinking living in River North means eating steak for most meals, most days.
While its true River North has its share of delicious steakhouses, such as Bavette’s and David Burke’s, there are many more equally tempting choices for foodies of all palettes.
The Boarding House offers unique, beautifully-executed fare like duck breast in black garlic sauce, cooked octopus tentacles, and even house-made pasta. For for a more casual, quirky feel, there’s the Bohemian House. From its back bar made entirely from wooden tables, to its impressive collection of grandma china, this Czech gem welcomes patrons with such delectable treats as chicken paprikas, pickled sweet peppers, and beef cheek pirogues.
Got a full belly but not ready to call it a night yet? River North has its share of bars certain to cap your evening off right.
For those looking for scene with a view, look no further than Drumbar. This 18th-floor bar inside the Raffaello Hotel divides into uniquely impressive indoor/outdoor spaces and boasts pop-culture themed cocktails like the Stranger Things and the Orange is the New Black.
Afraid Of Heights?
Stick to ground level and check out the Berkshire Room. This old-world callback features a gorgeous main bar area that spiders off into side rooms that include barrel-staves paneling and whiskey lockers for those exceptionally rare spirits.
Equally tasteful and classic is the nearby bar, The Drifter. While many places claim the title “speakeasy”, The Drifter actually was one. Located in the basement of the Green Door Tavern, you can still spot the secret door amidst the virtually untouched classic decor adorning its walls.
Helpful Information About River North Real Estate
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