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The Near North Side is without a doubt the oldest part of Chicago. In the 1780s, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built the first permanent settlement on the northern banks of the river where the Michigan Avenue Bridge is over the Chicago River. In the 1830s, New Yorker, William Ogden came to Chicago to oversee land that his family had bought along the Chicago River. He was appalled by the swampy conditions, however he recognized the opportunity of real estate values and the possibility of industrial development along the river and was tempted to buy large tracts of land. He became very wealthy and was able to gain a presence in the city and was elected the city’s first mayor in 1837.
The McCormick family built mansions in this same area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This section became known as McCormickville. The Chicago Water Tower is the city’s most familiar and treasured landmark. It was constructed between 1867 and 1869 for Chicago’s municipal water system. It gained special significance as one of the few buildings to survive the destructive path of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Both the Water Tower and Pumping Station to the east were designed by William W. Boyington, one of Chicago’s most prolific architects of the mid-nineteenth century. It still stands today on the corner of Pearson Street and Michigan Avenue. It is the second oldest water tower in the nation. The Near North Side has the second largest total area, after the Near West Side, the highest number of skyscrapers, and the largest population.
While there are never a shortage of choices for shopping and dining near the North Side, there may be a shortage of “seats”, especially if a restaurant doesn’t take reservations. If you’re looking for a great steakhouse, check out Tavern on Rush. They offer an extensive menu of classic American fare, including USDA prime aged steaks and chops, fresh fish and seafood. Another popular choice is Joe’s Seafood, which is one of the most widely recognized restaurants in the world known for great seafood. They are especially famous for their Florida Stone crabs. Be sure to check out the Original Pancake House for one of the best breakfasts in the city. Their signature item, the Dutch Baby, is an oven-baked pancake served with lemon, whipped butter and powdered sugar. Their crepes and omelets are also hard to resist.
15 minutes to Midway Airport
10 minutes to Chicago Loop
29 minutes to O’Hare Airport
Distance to Downtown
The Near North Side is located north and east of the Chicago River. To its east is Lake Michigan and its northern boundary is the early 19th-century city limit of Chicago, North Avenue. The Near North Side is literally adjacent to downtown Chicago, making the commute extremely convenient. Depending on where one resides, commuting to the city’s central business is often just a leisurely walk. There are a number of public transportation options that include bus lines that run along Michigan Ave. The CTA Red Line stops at Division, Chicago, and Grand, which are all well connected to downtown and the northern parts of the city. For those who prefer to bike, there are miles of bike lanes throughout the neighborhood and numerous Divvy Stations, where one can rent a bike.
There are plenty of places to check out in the Near North Side. If you are in the mood for shopping, the Magnificent Mile is full of upscale shops as well as less expensive shops. Another popular spot is Navy Pier, which is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side. Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot long pier on Lake Michigan. Don’t miss out on the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is located just west of Water Tower. It is one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues. If you are interested in mansions and museums, look no further than the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. It is located on East Erie Street. It is housed within the historic Samuel M. Nickerson House, which was the 1883 residence of a wealthy Chicago banker. The mansion has been restored and interprets and displays the prevailing design, architecture, and decorating tastes of Gilded Age America and the art nouveau era.
The Near North Side neighborhood has many elementary schools including Ogden International School, Chicago Grammar School, Latin School of Chicago, Skinner North Classical School, British International School of Chicago, and Walter Payton College Prep. Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus is also located in the Near North Side.