The Story of the West Loop
Just west of the bustling Loop is the equally bustling and aptly named West Loop. The neighborhood within the Near West Side community area has become a trendy, young, and affluent part of town.
Watch: West Loop
The West Loop and the surrounding neighborhoods have been home to a diverse group of Chicagoans. In the mid-late 1800s, the West Loop was full of factories, markets, and warehouses, providing job opportunities for the immigrants that flocked to the area in search of work. The West Loop was once the location of Fulton Market, a large wholesale market that flourished in the 19th century.
The West Loop was also the site of the infamous Haymarket Affair, when an otherwise peaceful labor demonstration became violent when someone threw a bomb into the crowd. Seven police officers and an unknown number of protestors died. Police later arrested hundreds of labor activists. Seven were hanged for conspiracy at the insistence of local business leaders, despite a lack of evidence.
Many of the old warehouses and factories of the West Loop have now been transformed into modern condos and apartments and award-winning restaurants. Randolph Street (see below) in particular has become a hot dining strip. Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios used to be just off Randolph, too, but has since been torn down. A new McDonald’s headquarters now stands in its place.
Because the West Loop is a relatively new neighborhood in name, cranes make up much of the area’s skyline as it continues to develop rapidly. The Clinton, Morgan, and Ashland Pink and Green Line stops all run through the West Loop. Just west of the West Loop is the United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.
Neighborhood Spotlight: Restaurant Row
In the past decade, Michelin-rated restaurants and James Beard Award-winning chefs have all set up shop in the West Loop, particularly on Randolph Street between Ogden Avenue and Halsted Street. Their presence, in part, is what has transformed the West Loop into a trendy, affluent community. Here are just a few of them:
- Au Cheval
- The Aviary
- Girl and the Goat
- Green Street Smoked Meats
- Haymarket Pub & Brewery
- Leña Brava
- Little Goat Diner
Things to Do
After dining on Randolph Street, stroll around Union Park, where the annual Pitchfork Music Festival is held every summer.