Chicago’s West Loop Neighborhood
Hog Butcher for the World,Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;Stormy, husky, brawling,City of the Big Shoulders:
Though not specifically about the neighborhood, the poem summed up the gritty West Loop of 100 years ago when cold storage warehouses and wholesale butcher shops lined the streets. The neighborhood’s proximity to the The Loop and railroads which brought livestock from across the country made the West Loop an ideal location for the blending of broad shoulders and big business. It was here that local merchants formed the Chicago Butter and Egg Board in 1898 which became the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1919.
The broad shoulders and bloody aprons of the men who once worked in the West Loop have been replaced by slender and, ironically, vegan hipsters. Fulton street, once the heart of Chicago’s meatpacking district, is now home to Google’s new offices.
A few butcher shops still remain, but most of the warehouses have been converted into trendy and increasingly expensive loft condo buildings. Today’s West Loop is home to some of the city’s best restaurants. Stephaine Izard’s Girl and the Goat, Au Cheval and Rick Bayless’ Lena Brava are cornerstones of the Randolph street foodie scene, a.k.a. Restaurant Row.
Luxury apartment buildings such as Arkadia Tower, The Parker, Circa 922 and The Madison Apartments are some of the newer additions. As the housing market continues to recover, new west loop condos are starting to break ground. 111ume and 900 West Washington are two of the most recent.
The West Loop is also home to Chicago’s Greek Town, located on Halsted street between Van Buren and Madison street. Greek Islands, Rodity’s and Dugan’s should all be on your to-do list here. The owners of these establishments have managed to hold onto prime pieces of real estate in a neighborhood that has seen values skyrocket. For the owners, the exit plan is clear. In the once rundown neighborhood, real estate developers now clamor for the last undeveloped parcels of land and parking lots owned by these greek immigrants for the last 50+ years. A fortune awaits, proving once again; in in real estate, time is your friend.