The Near West Side is Community Area #28, sitting 2 miles west of the Loop. It is an area whose history is as long as Chicago’s. It came of age in the Civil War era of Victorian buildings and a city that was coming into its own as it took on the world in industry. It is bounded by the Chicago and Northwestern railroad to the north and 16th street to the south and by the South Branch of the Chicago River on the east and the Pennsylvania Railroad on the west. The Community is home to a number of prominent Chicago neighborhoods including Greektown, the Fulton River District, University Village, Little Italy, Maxwell Street, Tri-Taylor, Illinois Medical Center, the West Loop, West Loop gate and United Center Park, all within less than 6 square miles.
Much of this area was once part of the Hull House Neighborhood, named of course for America’s first Settlement House. When Jane Adams arrived, much of the area surrounding Hull House were slums, but fifty years prior, wealthy inhabitants of the Union Park neighborhood sought to create one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods in Chicago when it was seen as a refuge from the nearby Loop before it developed its own industries and commercial districts, and the wealthy residents of the area envisioned it as an escape from the dirty, overcrowded city heart to the immediate east.
The bike Tour of the Near West Side offers a fun exploration of the neighborhoods and tales of the history for the region and of the buildings we’ll visit designed by famed architects such as Hermann V. Von Holst, William LeBaron Jenney, Pond and Pond, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, Hugh M. Garden and Holabird and Root.