Chicago's River North Area is A Happening Place

Connie Wilson By Connie Wilson, 13th Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Illinois

Attractions of the River North area of Chicago, Illinois.

What Is Located in River North, Chicago

Chicago's River North area was a warehouse district 30 years ago, but now it represents the best of Chicago dining, gallery and nightlife.
This area bounded by the Chicago River to the south, north of the Loop, and west of Michigan Avenue has the highest concentration of restaurants in the city, and, with more than 100 art galleries, the area on Superior and Huron Streets known as SuHu is second only to New York City for the art patron who wishes to browse during the day.

The Alan Koppel Gallery has international contemporary artists. The Kenneth Probst Gallery favors European and American Impressionist painters. The ZG Gallery has group shows, which might be thematic, such as the use of color in contemporary abstract painting or the recuperative power of nature. Primitive Art, contemporary art, sculpture, realist paintings, antique furniture, decorative art: you can find it all here in galleries like those mentioned, or in others such as the Bianca Pilat Gallery of Contemporary Art or the Maya-Polsky Gallery (sculpture).

There are nearly 20 separate antique stores or warehouses, such as Cosulich Interiors & Antiques for European antiques, paintings, chandeliers, accessories ranging from the 16th through the 20th centuries, or Christa's Antiques for 18th and 19th century antiques.

There are over 100 fine dining establishments in the area, including the always-excellent Shaw's Crab House (21 E. Hubbard St.) for fish, or Bin 36 at 339 N. Dearborn Street for fine wine lovers. As you depart Bin 36, you are directly across the alley from the House of Blues at 329 N. Dearborn, where everyone from Bruce Springsteen impersonators or Kevin Costner (yes, that Kevin Costner) and Gina Gershon come to sing. Fine professional musicians like Steve Winwood make the House of Blues a stopping point on their tours, also, but seating is at a premium, so be prepared to stand throughout the show.

The famous Billy Goat Tavern made famous by television’s "Saturday Night Live" is here, at 430 N. Michigan Avenue, while the Boss Bar glorifies Mayor Daley and The Underground, derives its inspiration from an underground bomb shelter in Jerusalem.
Billy Dec, Arturo Gomez and Brad Young have created a metal and concrete place with the Underground, with drinks that have names like the M16, the Espionage or Che's Revolution to carry out the spy theme. Be prepared to wait in line as bouncers guard the lines at the doors.
O'Callaghan's at 29 W. Hubbard Street is a hang-out for journalists, while Kenny Phelps mans the piano bar at the Redhead Piano Bar (16 W. Ontario Street) and Blue Chicago highlights female blues singers (736 N. Clark St.). A rooftop lounge is Vertigo at 2 W. Erie Street and the Climax Lounge (324 W. Chicago Ave.) is huge at 6,250 square feet.

After dining and drinking, you can always join the East Bank Club to work off the excess calories, where both Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan once worked out, or stroll through the mammoth Merchandise Mart, which was once a warehouse for Marshall Field's, but was then bought by Joseph Kennedy during the Depression and remained in the Kennedy family until the early 1990s. It’s now becoming a magnet for technical businesses to use as their headquarters.

Famous residences abound, but none more familiar than Marina towers
(the House of Blues is below) at Marina City (300 N. State Street), which houses shops, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a skating rink, a marina and a bowling alley. The complex, designed by Bernard Goldberg, is famous for its corncob design and the scene in Steve McQueen's "Hunter" when a car was driven off the top level of the parking ramp and into the Chicago River below. My son lived in a loft apartment at Sexton Place on Ohio Street (a former food warehouse made into loft living), right next to the East Bank Club and David Schwimmer (of television's "Friends") was often seen in the mail room.
If you want to see the neighborhood from the river, take a Chicago Architectural Cruise, which leaves from Navy Pier. You will see the back of the East Bank Club near Ohio Street from the Chicago River. The guide mentioned that not a single window was built on the back of the building (which is all you see of the building from the cruise) because of the pollution of the Chicago River (which has improved markedly since the club was built).

One favorite dining destination (among American, Brazilian, French, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Spanish, Thai, and vegetarian fare) is Ben Pao, which not only has great food, but great ambience. If you prefer something more mainstream, stick with Harry Caray's Restaurant. Ed Debevic's, the Hard Rock Café, the Rainforest Café, the Blue Frog Bar and Grill or O'Leary's Public House (named for the owner of the infamous cow that supposedly started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871). They are all located in River North, and the area's vibrant nightlife attracts visitors from all over the city. One corner Italian restaurant, Gene and Georgetti's (500 N. Franklin), was even featured prominently in the short-lived HBO series "Diary of a Married Man," (with the characters constantly meeting there to discuss the women in their lives) and serves authentic Italian cuisine and steaks large enough to feed an entire family.

You'll enjoy River North, night or day, as there is much to see, do and enjoy.


Chicago Attractions, Chicagos Tourist Attractions, River North Area In Chicago, Windy City Attractions

Meet the author

author avatar Connie Wilson
Author - 27 books. Yahoo Content Producer of Year (2009); MWC Writer of the Year (2010); IWPA Silver Feather winner (Chicago), 2012 & 2014. Professor: 6 IA/IL colleges.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
13th Sep 2014 (#)

Good write-up, thank you - siva

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