Many assume that the Loop’s name comes from the loop-like route formed by Chicago’s elevated trains. Not so. The designation actually stems from Chicago’s old public transit system, which was a simple streetcar that followed a circular track around the downtown business district. Just imagine what life was like for some of the first Loop residents – many of them got around by horse and buggy, bicycle or pushcart. You still see a few horse and buggy’s downtown (it’s kind of a novelty thing for tourists now), but the days of the push cart have given way to motor vehicles, and lots of them! The traffic in the Loop is heavy, but not impossible to navigate. Of course, present day bicyclists have the advantage when it comes to getting around these busy urban streets because they can bypass the lines of cars backed up at intersections.

With countless hotels, office buildings and retail shops, it seems like this Chicago neighborhood exists only for work and play. It does, after all, have one of the highest concentrations of commercial property, but there are plenty of people who live here, too. A fairly recent boom in residential condo building has made this central location a prime Chicago address. Of course, most of the housing here consists of high-rise condominiums and lofts. A simple studio with parking in the Loop prices in at around $200,000. But if you can get by without the garage space, the price falls drastically to around $120,000. One bedrooms range between $200,000 and $600,000, while two bedrooms sell anywhere from $400,000 to $1 million and above.

Many Chicagoans decide to live in the Loop for the same reasons droves of tourists visit the neighborhood every year. Things like the Loop’s prominent theater district, which just happens to be the best in the city, are a big draw. And next to the Magnificent Mile, the Loop has the second best shopping scene in all of Chicago. Some Loop residents and downtown employees skip lunch just to power shop on their midday work break. But a true Chicago gourmand would never fathom the thought, especially with so many culinary gems on every block. Most of the restaurants here are upscale, but you’ll also find a slew delis and cafés, plus a grand selection of pizza joints like the famous Giordano’s. This local chain serves some of Chicago’s best deep-dish style pizza. It’s a must-try for anyone who has only known the likes of thin-crust and an obvious pleasure for those who are already privy to its mouthwatering tastes.

A good number of tourists travel to the Loop just to see the Sears Tower, Chicago’s tallest skyscraper. But Loop residents are more inclined to make repeat visits to other famous downtown attractions, like the Art Institute of Chicago, which houses a number of fine art pieces from all over the map. The Institute isn’t the only place where you can find spectacular visuals, though. Check out Daley Plaza where there’s an enormous steel sculpture crafted by Pablo Picasso himself. Across the street from that is another chunk of concrete culture by Spanish artist Joan Miro. Who wouldn’t love a neighborhood where priceless works of art are found roadside around every corner?

Also known for its innovative larger-than-life art pieces, the newly-established Millennium Park has proven itself a top Chicago destination for many reasons. This 25-acre outdoor hotspot is open year-round and is dotted with unique sculptures, interactive fountains and other eye-catching features that captivate adults and children alike. In addition to being an ideal picnic location, the grounds host several annual concerts and festivals that attract people from around the country. When the winter months approach, the plaza at Millennium Park is transformed into a free ice skating rink.

Chicago neighborhood and real estate information