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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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The city of neighborhoods: A student’s guide to Chicago

Illustration by Olivia Abeyta
Northwestern’s next-door neighbor has hundreds of options for entertainment and food.

As seniors leave Northwestern, many regret never having explored the city so close to their campus. 

The country’s third-largest city, Chicago bustles with unique experiences and an identity unlike the coastal cities that many students may be more familiar with. Here’s a brief crash course on the geography and logistics of the city — happy exploring!

Beyond Downtown

As students will hear often during their time at NU, Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. 

There are 77 “community areas” officially designated by the city, but many more unique neighborhoods created by residents’ unofficial boundaries. Each neighborhood has a distinct identity, food scene and culture, making Chicago the perfect place to explore multiple communities in one place. 

These neighborhoods are often grouped together in a few main sections when talking about the layout of the city: the North Side, which includes neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville; the Loop, which is the downtown area that most people think of when they think of Chicago; the West Side, which includes neighborhoods like Humboldt Park and Austin; and the South Side, which includes neighborhoods like Bronzeville and Hyde Park. 

Like any major city, many of these neighborhoods represent ethnic communities and offer an opportunity to explore other cultures in depth — a few being Chinatown on the South Side, and Greektown] and Little Italy, both on the Near West Side. 

The Chicago neighborhood that borders Evanston is Rogers Park, a diverse and artsy community about a 10-minute drive or 45-minute walk from campus. Many North Side neighborhoods are popular with NU students for eating, shopping or nightlife, but with such an extensive variety of experiences throughout the neighborhoods, all are worth exploring. 

Getting Into The City

Luckily, Evanston is connected to Chicago by a variety of easy transportation options. 

For public transportation, students can catch the Metra or the “L,” short for “elevated,” at multiple Evanston stations for a quick ride into destinations across the city. 

The University also provides some transportation into Chicago. If one’s looking to get to NU’s downtown Chicago campus or the immediately surrounding areas, the intercampus shuttle runs a loop from the Evanston campus to the Chicago campus throughout the day. The schedule is available online. 

Entertainment in the City

Among many other things, Chicago is known for its unique theater and art scenes.

One of the most notable is improv comedy club The Second City in the Old Town neighborhood, many of whose performers have gone on to successful careers at Saturday Night Live. 

Other famous theaters across the city include Steppenwolf, Goodman and Lookingglass, which feature major off-Broadway talent and performances across the Loop and the North Side. 

The city is also host to many world-class museums. A favorite is the Art Institute of Chicago, which has free admission for NU students. However, many students also frequent the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, among a multitude of other great options. 

Another must for students is one of the things that sets Chicago apart from its city peers — the beaches. 

If you want to leave Evanston’s beaches behind, one of the city’s most popular is Oak Street Beach, in the downtown area. Although often crowded, the beach’s location within the city’s skyline makes it a destination for many tourists in the area. 

Another popular beach in the city, this one a little further North and closer to campus, is North Avenue Beach. Located in Lincoln Park, one of the Northside’s most popular neighborhoods for younger residents, it offers more complete views of the skyline and (marginally) less crowding. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @alycebrownn

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