In the West Loop freight trucks drive alongside BMWs, trendy restaurants set up shop next to warehouses, and blue-collar workers and hip artists can be seen at the same local coffee shops. For nearly a century the West Loop was a mix of factories, meat and produce markets, and wholesale outlets, but today the neighborhood is becoming a trendy place for young families and professionals to call home.
Located just steps away from the loop, the West Loop is bounded by the streets of Grand Avenue to the north, the Kennedy Expressway to the east, the Eisenhower Expressway to the south, and Ashland Avenue to the west.
Although immigrants began to move to the West Loop as early as the 1800s it wasn’t until the last twenty years that this neighborhood really began to develop commercially. In recent years, many of the old warehouses have been converted into trendy lofts and swanky gallery spaces. But the neighborhood has not completely turned its back on its heritage; local policy makers have managed to preserve certain long-time industries that are important to Chicago’s livelihood.
Retail is still a relatively recent industry in the West Loop; almost all of the boutiques have opened within the last five years. Although the West Loop is still not considered a shopping destination in Chicago there are still a few trendy boutiques that make the trip worthwhile. The West Loops hosts a mixture of gift shops, antique stores, high-end vintage shops, bridal stores, and local clothing boutiques. These stores cater to everyone from new moms to young professionals to trendy artists and sell their wares at prices ranging anywhere from fifty dollars to 300 dollars.
Despite the West Loop’s up-and-coming status many of the neighborhood’s streets are still filled with empty storefronts, supply stores, warehouses, or torn down buildings. Nonetheless, this neighborhood appears to be quickly reinventing itself. The West Loop seems to be a little neighborhood with a lot of potential to become one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods.
Photos by Hannah Howcroft. Illustration by Teya Bozhilova.