Where is River North?
River North is part of the official Chicago Near North Side community area. There are differing opinions on the boundaries of River North,but in this Guide we refer to the area bordered by the Chicago River on the south and west, Chicago Ave (800 N) on the north, and Michigan Ave (150 E) on the east. The Magnificent Mile, which is more a marketing concept than a neighborhood, is the eastern part of the area.
Who lives here?
If you have to find a single word to describe River North residents, that word would be “newcomers,” reflecting the dramatic growth in the area’s residential population over the last 10 years, and the opening in 2010 of 3 new rental high-rises (EnV, Flair Tower and Parc Huron) and a number of condo high-rises.
River North attracts an educated, affluent group that tends to be older as you head further east and north in the neighborhood, and less ethnically and racially diverse than the South and West Loop neighborhoods.
Why people move here
River North has a broad selection of new and nearly-new loft condos and condo and rental high-rises, and a smattering of vintage walk-ups, higher-priced townhomes and single-families. Many of the buildings offer dramatic skyline views.
Older lofts that have been converted to restaurant, night club, retail, gallery and office space are pervasive throughout River North, making it a walk-to-work within the neighborhood destination for many residents. The sheer visual variety of the architecture is attractive to many. It’s possible to linger on a tree-lined block of two-story Victorians and gaze at way the sun plays off the Trump Tower throughout the day.
The Ontario Street feeder ramp provides quick access to the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways. Good public transit is a big draw, with the CTA Red and Brown / Purple lines trisecting the area and multiple east-west and north-south bus lines (PDF) traversing it. Taxi service is almost instantly available in most parts of River North.
The recently-opened Erie Park swarms with pre-school kids afternoons and weekends. The adjacent river walk and two nearby dog parks are also popular attractions.
Why people don’t move here
Schools, and the cost and scarcity of family-sized housing are major issues for most families with school-age children.
River North is home to the House of Blues, Excalibur, Harry Caray’s, Gino’s East, Portillo’s, the Rainforest (sic) and Hard Rock cafés and a host of other restaurants and night clubs that are popular with tourists and suburbanites, but not with locals. The strong visitor presence is a negative for some people. Other people object to some River North locations because of noise from the L and the nearly-always busy Ohio and Ontario feeder ramps, although River North is no noisier than other close-in downtown neighborhoods.
What it costs to live here
You can typically expect to pay upwards of $1,100 to $2,200 for a studio or convertible, $1,400 to $3,000 for a 1-bedroom, $2,000 to $3,800 for a 2-bedroom / 2-bath, and $5,000 and up for one of the few available 3-bedrooms.
You may find the occasional bargain when renting a condo, but generally won’t find the extensive amenities and finishes the newer high-rise rentals offer.