Wander up and down Chicago’s downtown lakeshore, and you’ll step foot in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. Each is as unique as its name and the ‘hood with the most unusual moniker is without a doubt, Streeterville.
This lakeside neighborhood is much more than a community with a catchy name. Streeterville is a favorite for downtown residents and tourists alike. The location is popular for those looking for everything – and I mean everything – that the city has to offer.
This is Streeterville
You’re going to love Streeterville. It’s got shopping, restaurants, bars, beaches, parks, entertainment and even those everyday conveniences that make city-living, well…livable.
Streeterville is located just north of the heart of downtown. The Chicago River separates it from nearby Lakeshore East and The Loop.
On its east-side, Streeterville spills into Lake Michigan. The lake spoils Streeterville’s residents with gorgeous sunrises, lakeside breezes and the city’s iconic Navy Pier. To the west, bustling Michigan Avenue separates Streeterville from River North, although technically, the boundary extends one block west, scooping Rush Street into its border.
On the north end, there’s some dispute about where Streeterville ends and the Gold Coast begins, but our consensus is that Chicago Avenue is a natural divider between the two neighborhoods.
Streeterville packs a whole lot into its neighborhood borders including yes, a Target (swoon!), Northwestern – which is one of the nation’s top universities (yup, I’m bragging) – and ample space to get outside and play (yay!).
And to think, it all began with one wild story…
Have you wondered how Streeterville got its name? Hold on tight, because this story is a crazy ride.
George Streeter Makes Landfall
Streeterville’s history dates back to the early 1800s, but it gets really exciting in 1886. That’s when George Streeter, a former Union Army private, ran his steamboat into a sandbar just off the coast of Lake Michigan. Or at least, that’s how the fabled story goes.
It seems more likely that Streeter knew exactly what he was doing when piloting his ship right into the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Streeter and his wife Maria claimed the area around the wreckage as their own. They turned their boat into their home, filled the land surrounding it with trash and declared the 186-acre parcel the U.S. District of Lake Michigan.
Around this same time, the area just north of Streeter’s “shipwreck turned compound” was going through a development boom. Chicago’s wealthiest residents were relocating to the north-side neighborhood, now known as the Gold Coast. And Streeter…well, he saw dollar signs.
A Battle of the Wills
Streeter stayed put for nearly three decades, using forged documents to sell off land he had no claim to. When the authorities attempted to oust him, he battled back with gunfire, axes and even boiling water.
They’d take him to court, he’d weasel his way out. They’d try to reclaim the land, he’d send squatters to thwart their plans.
Streeter was a larger-than-life character who Chicagoans both loved and loathed. Eventually, he was sent to jail for murder but was pardoned by the governor of Illinois after serving just nine months. Just a few years later, Streeter died of pneumonia, leaving behind a wild legacy and neighborhood that would eventually be his namesake.
Today, there’s a statue of Streeter donning a top hat on Grand Avenue and McClurg Court. The marker memorializes “the eccentric resident who gave Streeterville its name.”
Who would have guessed that Streeterville was named after a freaking murderous lunatic?
Streeterville’s Skyline is Built
Spurred by the opening of the Michigan Avenue bridge in 1920, Streeterville’s development boom really began. Suddenly, the area was an accessible extension of Chicago’s downtown and a virtual blank slate.
From the 1920s through post World War II, Streeterville rose up…and up and up and up. Luxury high-rise apartments began dotting the shore of Lake Michigan and swanky hotels, such as The Drake, opened their doors to eager visitors. Northwestern University opened in Streeterville in 1924, drawing aspiring lawyers and doctors to their downtown campus.
Around the same time, Streeterville was also growing out, out, out and into Lake Michigan. The world-famous Navy Pier opened in 1916. Originally named “Municipal Pier”, it was designed as a shipping and recreational facility. In the 1920s, it served as a housing base for naval personnel and was renamed Navy Pier in their honor.
Magnificence Hits Streeterville
By mid-century, Streeterville was undergoing a renewal effort led by the city of Chicago and their sites were set on Michigan Avenue. This is when developer Arthur Rubloff gave the 13-block stretch the nickname “The Magnificent Mile”.
Everyone wanted to be close to the action. By the 1960s, the last of Streeterville’s industrial remnants disappeared and new high-rise apartment and commercial buildings sprang up in their place.
Streeterville officially became Chicago’s most popular neighborhood to live, work, shop and play in. And, it still is today.
What Streeterville is Like Today
Streeterville has come a long way since George Streeter’s antics. And, the development that began building in the 1960s hasn’t let up. The neighborhood continues to be reimagined, improved and redeveloped, all while holding tight to its downtown charm and history.
Living in Streeterville
If you want to live amongst all the action in downtown Chicago, Streeterville is a great neighborhood to be in. I especially like recommending it to Chicago newcomers because it’s the best of everything – it’s right near the heart of downtown and has that buzzy-city vibe that so many downtowners crave. But, it’s tucked away just enough to offer solace from nearby neighborhoods like the always busy Loop and River North.
The central and northern part of Streeterville is all city, all the time. The busy streets are awash in shadows cast by the dense high-rises that loom overhead. Live near Michigan Avenue, or the blocks surrounding Northwestern’s Memorial Hospital and Universities, and you’ll become a pro at weaving your way around tourists and med students.
On the south and east borders, you’ve got the water calling your name. The vibe in the southern part of the ‘hood is less hustle-and-bustle and more let’s-take-an-easy-stroll.
Being able to grab a riverside table-for-two or jog along the lakeshore is also such an appealing part about living in Streeterville. The neighborhood developers didn’t forget that in order to live your best life, respite and greenspace are a must-have.
Everything You Need…And More
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about city living – especially in Chicago – it’s that everyday conveniences have to be easily accessible. Without a grocery store within walking distance, it feels like you’re living on a deserted island in the middle of a busy city.
This is where Streeterville totally kills it. The trifecta of must-have-to-live-stores – yes, I’m talking Whole Foods, Target and Trader Joe’s – are all within reach. Whether you need last-minute cauliflower gnocchi or shaving cream, you’ve got it just blocks away from home.
Here’s the lowdown on all the grocery stores, drug stores, and more that Streeterville offers its residents:
- Whole Foods Market: Organic grocer on Fairbanks and Grand.
- Target + Target Grocery: Located at 401 E Illinois Street; a city-chic version of a regular Target. Slightly smaller format, but with great everyday needs and more.
- Trader Joe’s: Technically, in River North, but just a block west of Michigan Avenue and totally walkable from Streeterville.
- Bockwinkel’s: Small, local grocer located at 320 E Ohio.
- Walgreens – with 3 Streeterville locations, this favorite-drug store is within arm’s reach no matter where you live in Streeterville.
- CVS Pharmacy: Pharmacy located inside Target on McClurg Court and Illinois Street.
Things to Do in Streeterville
If you’re ever bored in Streeterville, we need to talk. Whether you call Streeterville home or are just visiting, the list of must-dos is a mile long. From some of Chicago’s most quintessential sights to beaches and parks, make your list and start checking it off.
Tourist Must-See Sights
If you’re visiting Streeterville, these are your must-dos. And if you live in Streeterville but haven’t checked these out, what are you waiting for? Set aside a weekend to play tourist in your own neighborhood.
Chicago’s Navy Pier is the most visited attraction in Chicago for a reason – it’s packed with so much to do that you can easily spend a whole day wandering the attractions. Especially perfect for families, be sure to explore the Children’s Museum, Crystal Gardens and merry-go-round.
Wanting a quick version of the pier experience? Walk the length for an incredible people-watching session, then ride the nearly 200-foot tall Ferris wheel. The night-time view is especially breathtaking!
The Magnificent Mile…what more do you need? The diversity of stores on Michigan Avenue means you can window shop and actually shop, all on the same trip.
Streeterville’s stretch of the mile includes my niece’s favorite place in the world – American Girl at Water Tower Place, which is pure magic. Tiffany and Gucci are a block south…this is where my window shopping comes into play. Hey, a girl can dream, right?
If you’re looking for a Chicago day-date idea or girls-day-out, I have a fun itinerary for you!
First, make an afternoon tea reservation at The Drake. If you’re as obsessed with The Crown as I am, you’ll be delighted to hear that both Princess Diana and the Queen herself have noshed on finger sandwiches and sipped on Earl Grey at The Drake’s traditional tea hour.
Then, head over to The Museum of Contemporary Art. While it may play second-fiddle to the Art Institute of Chicago, don’t miss out on this gem. Open since 1967, the museum specializes in art from 1945-present.
Their collection includes pieces from modern masters like Picasso but the rotating exhibitions keep art-fanatics coming back again and again.
Streeterville Parks and Beaches
The thing I love most about downtown Chicago is that it’s not all concrete and brick. When you need your fresh air fix, it’s never far away. And in Streeterville, you’ve got lots of spots to get your green on.
Up until 2019, Streeterville’s most residentially-dense blocks were missing something – green grass and room to play. Residents in the southern half of Streeterville rejoiced when Bennett Park opened, finally giving neighbors a spot to run, romp, and relax.
In true city spirit, the park is built on top of a parking garage. So much more than a patch of grass, Bennett Park’s 2-acres include an incredible kid’s playground, beautifully landscaped spaces and an area for dogs.
Neighbors in the northern part of Streeterville are lucky to have Lakeshore Park within reach. Close to Northwestern’s campus, between Chicago Avenue and Pearson Street, the park packs a whole lot of fun into 7-acres.
Lakeshore Park does have grassy space large enough for a neighborhood game of freeze-tag, but the real draw is its fitness-focused features. There are tennis courts, pull-up bars and even room to run your dog in circles.
But the park’s headliner is definitely its outdoor track. Speed-trainers and casual-walkers alike flock to the park daily to get their steps in.
Ohio Street Beach & Jane Addams Memorial Park
Chicago’s urban beaches are my favorite escape from the city…and you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy them! City dwellers love to spend hot summer days lounging, dipping their toes in the water and playing volleyball on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan.
Streeterville’s Ohio Beach – the closest beach to the heart of downtown – is an awesome spot to catch some rays and chill. Located near Navy Pier, the area boasts more than just sand and surf.
Jane Addams Memorial Park is also nestled on the edge of the beach. With patches of grass and birch trees placed between walking trails, it offers just enough green space to find a little peace and quiet.
Milton Lee Olive Park
Not far from the beach is the largest park in Streeterville: Milton Lee Olive Park. Follow the paved path east of the Ohio Beach shoreline for 10-acres of wide-open space and an awesome walking path with incredible views of the downtown skyline.
Need to get out and burn some energy? Streeterville is a great spot to hop on Lakefront Trail for a jog, bike ride, or if you’re me, a leisurely walk with a cup of Dollop’s Mexican mocha in hand. The 18-miles of paved trail give even the most ambitious folks room to get their run on.
Streeterville Apartment Buildings
Streeterville sounds pretty sweet, right? Deciding to live in Streeterville is easy. But finding an apartment to rent takes a little more work. That’s where my team of leasing agents and I come in. There’s an abundance of awesome apartments to rent in Streeterville and we know the ins and outs of just about every building.
Here’s a preview of just a few of the best apartments in Streeterville.
465 North Park
465 North Park’s 48-floors opened in 2018. Located on Illinois Street and Park Drive, this high-rise is luxe city-living at its finest.
And you can’t beat the location in the south part of Streeterville. It’s a 3-minute walk to the river, 10-minutes to River North and 6-minutes to Lakefront Trail.
465’s apartments are beautiful and the amenities are next-level. From a rooftop fire pit that overlooks Lake Michigan to warm and cozy lounges to the spa…you’ll never want to leave.
But it’s the staff that makes its residents never want to move out. The reviews on 465 North Park gush about the staff being the heart and soul of the building and I can tell you, this is the most priceless amenity of all.
The Atwater Apartments is another great option if you’re searching for a high-rise in Streeterville. With 54-floors, its residents enjoy comfortable city-living in the heart of the neighborhood’s residential district.
Located at 355 E Ohio Street, Atwater was built in 2009 and renovated in 2015. It’s a dog-friendly building with a really welcoming community and a friendly vibe. There are tons of unique amenity spaces to sneak away to, my favorites being the steamy indoor sauna and rooftop egg chairs.
Axis Apartments and Lofts
If you’re looking for an apartment building that’s extra-unique, Streeterville’s Axis Apartments might be it for you. Located in the northern part of Streeterville, Axis is a great apartment building if you want to be near Northwestern’s campus or work at Memorial Hospital.
Axis has awesome floor-plans including units with loft spaces and terraces with the best views. The crowning jewel though is Axis’ rooftop deck. The first time I stepped foot in this outdoor space I was blown away by its views of the Loop and the lake.
Lofts at River East
When I have someone who wants to live in Streeterville but isn’t feeling the high-rises, I take them to check out the Lofts at River East.
The building isn’t brand-new; it’s a rehabbed warehouse and shipping dock from the 1900s that feels like it belongs more in West Loop than Streeterville. The apartments, which opened in 2016, showcase original brick walls, wood beams and exposed pipes that are just sooo cool!
The building has all the amenities you’re looking for too; a great gym, co-working space and even a game room with a bar.
Located at 445 E Illinois Street, the lofts overlook the Ogden Canal and many units have views of the water, straight out to the lake. And because it’s not new construction, each floor plan is unique. If you want to live in an apartment that feels outside of the box, this is it.
The building might be vintage, but the nearby modern conveniences are plentiful. The building the Lofts occupy is ginormous, spanning several city blocks. Other occupants include Cupitol Coffee, Pinstripes, Pinched on the River and Target.
Moment Apartments take the phrase “home is your refuge” to a whole new level. Opened in 2016, Moment has a focus on health and well-being. If yoga is your jam, you’ll love it here.
First, the building has a minimalist style that’s so fresh and simple you can’t help but feel an instant sense of tranquility the minute you walk through the doors. Self-care focused amenities are becoming more popular, and Moment has nailed them. You’ve got a meditation and yoga studio, massage room, rooftop oasis, tea bar and a pool that overlooks the lake.
Moment is also one of the most dog-friendly apartments in Streeterville. Located across from Bennett Park’s dog-friendly park, Moment boasts an enclosed dog-run and even a pet spa. Because self-care is important for pooches too, right?
The Best Restaurants in Streeterville
Each neighborhood in Chicago has its favorite go-to spots for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in-between. In Streeterville, these are my top spots.
Best Hidden Gem: Beatrix
Beatrix has several locations in the downtown neighborhoods, but Streeterville’s is the best. The atmosphere is posh but comfortable and the staff is top-notch.
Beatrix Streeterville looks unassuming, but don’t be fooled. Located on street-level at Northwestern’s Memorial Hospital, Beatrix wraps around the corner of Erie and St Clair Streets. From sunrise to sunset, they serve up dishes that feel indulgent but have a healthy twist- and a fair price.
If it’s early, go for the lemon pancakes and breakfast enchiladas. Then come back for Streeterville’s best French fries and mouth-watering South African curry. Pretty intriguing, right?
Best Pizza: l’Aventino Forno Romano
The best pizza in Streeterville has got to be l’Aventino Forno Romano. It’s not a traditional Chicago deep dish (unpopular opinion: I just don’t love all that dough, sorry!), but you’ve got to give this place a shot.
Their specialty is Roman Pinsa, a traditional Italian pizza known for its deliciously yummy crunchy crust. Take one bite and I swear you’ll kick deep dish to the curb.
Best Authentic Asian: MingHin Cuisine
I’ve got two words for you: DIM SUM.
I stumbled upon MingHin Cuisine while searching for a good-enough bowl of fried rice and orange chicken. Instead, I found the best Chinese food in Streeterville. No hole-in-the-wall, MingHin boasts a very fancy dining room with sky-high ceilings, chandeliers and gold-encrusted everything. If Cantonese couch-dining is more your thing, delivery is available too.
Just go ahead and order everything! Dim sum, sticky short ribs, har gao, egg yolk buns, shrimp crepe, stuffed sticky rice…the list goes on and on.
Best Breakfast: Eggs Cafe
Streeterville has lots of awesome breakfast and brunch options. But I find myself headed back to Eggs Cafe again and again because of their enormous menu and consistently yummy plates of breakfast standards.
Located right on the edge of the lake, Eggs’ dining room is simple, light, bright and smells like a big ‘ole gooey cinnamon roll. Save your cheat day for one of their breakfast-meets-dessert plates like red velvet French toast or s’mores pancakes. The traditional fare will hit the spot too.
Best Bakery: Sweet Mandy B’s
Treat yo-self to the best bakery in Streeterville. Sweet Mandy’s B’s, at 254 E Ontario, serves up heaven in the form of sugar.
A go-to for any special occasion (yes, four Zoom calls in one day counts as a special occasion), Mandy’s is famous for their classic frosted sugar cookies, endless cupcake flavors and good ‘ol apple pie.
Most Peaceful Patio: Pinched on the River
Pinched on the River serves up a Mediterranean menu that’s authentic and lick-your-plate good. But, it’s the charming patio that makes this place one of my go-to spots in Streeterville.
Just a block from Navy Pier on the Ogden Slip, step onto the patio at Pinched and you’ll feel immediately at ease. The quaint setting offers up the prettiest views of Chicago’s famous blue-green water.
Watch the boats cruise by while you sip on fresh cocktails and devour Chicken Shawarma. And, how’s this for an unexpected twist: beignets! Yup, Pinched on the River serves the best beignets north of the French Quarter.
Streeterville Bars and Nightlife
Best Dive Bar: Timothy O’Toole’s Pub
Every neighborhood needs a great dive bar and in Streeterville, it’s Timothy O’Toole’s. Find it by heading to the corner of Ontario and Fairbanks then look for the Cubs flags waving in the wind.
Take a step down (yes, down – this place is literally a basement dive bar) and you’ll be greeted by friendly faces, cold taps, hot wings and a bazillion televisions. Yes, O’Toole’s is also Streeterville’s best bar to go watch the game.
Best Rooftop Bar: Streeterville Social at Loews Hotel
For me, warm Chicago summer nights mean one thing – cold cocktails with a view. In Streeterville, the best rooftop bar sits atop Loews Hotel. Only open during the summer months, Loews’ Streeterville Social has an astounding 7,500 square-feet of outdoor terrace – one of the biggest in the city.
Take in the view, take in the breeze and yes, take in the vodka. Streeterville Social’s specialty cocktails rotate all summer long, giving you dozens of icy-cold reasons to keep coming back.
The data always paints a picture. Streeterville’s neighborhood demographics reveal the make-up of the community:
- Population: 32,426
- Median Age of Population: 38.9
- Total Households: 20,726
- Average people per Household: 2
- Households with children: 5.1%
- Owner-Occupied: 46.4%
- Renter-Occupied: 53.6%
- Average Household Income: $167,990 annually
- Median Household Income: $103,522 annually
Streeterville Neighborhood Associations
Chicago’s downtown neighborhood associations are super active, and Streeterville’s is no exception.
Active since 1975, The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents is the organization you’ll want to join if you want to be a more involved community member.
Their mission is “to serve as a community organization that advocates and promotes Streeterville for all who live in, work in, and enjoy the neighborhood”. SOAR is the driving force behind the Streeterville farmer’s market and has several task force groups and clubs focused on making the neighborhood a great place to live.
Streeterville Chamber of Commerce
If you own a business in Streeterville, becoming a member of Streeterville’s Chamber of Commerce will arm you with connections and tools for success. Established in 1989, this nonprofit’s mission is to increase visibility for neighborhood businesses.
Streeterville Schools and Universities
K-12 School Options in Streeterville
If you live in Streeterville with school-aged children, you’ll need to commute out of the neighborhood to attend school. The assigned public schools are Ogden Elementary School, just north of Streeterville in Gold Coast, and Wells High School in Noble Square.
There are closer public charter options nearby. Secondary options include Muchin Prep School (9-12 in the Loop) and Walter Payton Prep School (9-12 just outside of Gold Coast). Skinner North Classic School (K-8 just outside of Old Town) is a charter option and a good elementary choice.
Universities in Streeterville
Northwestern University’s main campus is located 10-miles north of Streeterville in the northern suburb of Evanston. But their downtown campus, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, sprawls across 25-acres in Streeterville. Sandwiched between Michigan Avenue and Lakeshore Drive, the downtown campus includes the schools of law, medicine and professional studies.
Loyola University’s Water Tower campus is located in Streeterville just off Michigan Avenue. Colleges on the downtown campus include the Quinlan School of Business, Corby Law Center and schools of social work, communication and pastoral studies.
Parking in Streeterville
Parking in Chicago is never super fun but it doesn’t have to be painful. All it takes is a little planning to save yourself from looping block after block searching for a spot.
Since Streeterville is so packed with high-rise buildings, parking garages are easy to come by. Use an app like Parkopedia to reserve garage space ahead of time. Meter parking is also available and can be reserved through Park Chicago.
Public Transit in Streeterville
Like all downtown Chicago neighborhoods, public transit in Streeterville is ready to get you where you need to be.
If your own two feet can’t get you where you’re going, the CTA Red Line runs parallel and just west of Michigan Avenue. The Grand Station is on the corner of State and Grand, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from most of Streeterville’s apartment buildings.
Public buses are a terrific way to get around Streeterville or easily zip to other nearby ‘hoods. Use the CTA’s trip planner to quickly find a route that’ll get you around the city in a snap.
Highway Access from Streeterville
Getting out of Streeterville by car is simple. Hop on Lakeshore Drive (Highway 41) at the Illinois Street intersection to quickly hum along the lakeshore to north or south suburbs.
Finding your way to the southwest and northwest suburbs from Streeterville is a breeze too. Zip down Erie or Ohio Streets through River North to catch I-90.
Time to Move to Streeterville?
And..that’s a wrap on Streeterville! Sounds like a pretty great spot to call home, right?
My team and I know downtown Chicago’s best neighborhoods in and out and Streeterville is a fave of ours for a reason. If you’re considering a move to the neighborhood, we’d love to help. Give us a buzz and let’s talk about finding your new apartment in Streeterville.