Though it may not draw as many tourists as the Loop, River North has been at the heart of Chicago since the city’s incorporation in 1837. It was home to the first bridge across the Chicago River, the city’s first drug store and hotel, and, most importantly, its first three taverns.
Today, River North is a hotspot for tech companies, who occupy over a fourth of the neighborhood's office space (according to a 2016 report by CBRE). The neighborhood also has the largest concentration of art galleries in the U.S. outside of Manhattan, great bars and coffee shops, and countless options for coworking spaces, offices, coding schools and tech meetups.
Interestingly, a significant chunk of Chicago's tech scene is located within a single iconic River North building: the Merchandise Mart. Completed in 1930, the Merch Mart was built to consolidate 13 different warehouses that shipped goods across the nation, and is so large it had its own zip code (60654) until 2008. Chicago tech hub 1871 calls Merchandise Mart home, as do a number of bootcamp programs, Motorola, Braintree and countless young and promising startups.
Top fundings in the past year
- : $45 million — October 28, 2015
- : $25 million — December 9, 2015
- : $22 million — November 24, 2015
- : $20 million — May 20, 2015
- : $20 million — August 19, 2015
Companies to know
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Word on the street
"After graduating from Techstars Chicago and 1871, both of which are based in the Merchandise Mart, we chose to stay in River North,” said SpotHero marketing VP Elan Mosbacher. “Three years and three offices later, River North has been great for SpotHero thanks to the convenient commute, reasonably priced office space and, of course, amazing parking options. We just expanded to another floor at 325 W Huron, so we're excited to continue to call River North home as we grow our team and company."
Word from the realtor
“River North is the traditional startup space — the first gentrified neighborhood with timber loft buildings,” said Brad Serot, executive VP of tenant representation at. “The challenge has always been that the buildings are small and the supply is low, so when companies grow bigger, there’s nowhere for them to go.”
The “L”: The Brown and Purple line stop at the Merchandise Mart, and the Red line is just a few blocks over on Grand. That being said, every L train that enters the Loop has a stop within five minutes walking.
Commuter train: River North is a 15 minute walk and a five minute cab ride from Millennium Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center — the end stops for southbound and northbound commuter trains, respectively.
: Merchandise Mart
: 111 West Illinois St.
: 350 North Orleans St.
: 405 W. Superior St.
: 320 W. Ohio St.
: 230 W. Huron
Best coffee spots
Bow Truss, Caffe Umbria, Asado Coffee Roasters, 3 Greens Market, Beatrix
Best happy hours
Rockit Bar & Grill, Bohemian House, Green Door Tavern, Underground Wonder Bar, Highline, Bull & Bear
Images via SpotHero and Shutterstock.
This guide is current as of April 2016. Got a tip for us? Reach out through our tip line!