Neighborhood Stories : Near North

Neighborhood Stories

If you like urban pleasures, favor walking to work, savor dining al fresco, theatre, art museums and galleries, and acclaimed architecture, there's a neighborhood for you. Don't be deterred by traffic, tumult and construction. Wend your way to Chicago's Loop and near north.

For visitors and residents alike, downtown Chicago abounds in attractions. There are plazas with mosaics and sculpture; the business and financial district; Navy Pier with its rides, restaurants and theatres; Orchestra Hall, Lyric Opera and theatrical stage venues; shopping on State Street and the Magnificent Mile; and Grant Park with its annual Taste of Chicago, concerts and music festivals. And in warm seasons, tens of thousands of sunbathers flock to the Oak Street and North Avenue beaches.

Housing tends to be condos and rentals, with loft conversions the latest trend. You'll find apartment buildings interspersed among office buildings downtown, heavy concentrations to the east near Lake Michigan and to the north in Streeterville and along Lake Shore Drive on the Gold Coast. In recent years, River North has gained in popularity. The downtown area is home to longtime residents as well as singles and empty nesters who moved to the suburbs while raising children and now have returned to enjoy center city amenities.

The downtown region is also home to the central offices of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago at 1 S. Franklin St., Ben Gurion Way. The building also houses a number of Jewish Federation agencies, including Jewish Vocational Service, Jewish Family and Community Service, Jewish Children's Bureau, Jewish Community Centers and Chicago Board of Rabbis. It is also home to JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council, the umbrella body for 47 major Jewish organizations in Chicago.

Two Federation agencies are located at 618 S. Michigan Avenue. The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies offers an array of academic programs and houses the Norman and Helen Asher Library and Chicago Jewish Archives as well as the Spertus Museum featuring the largest Jewish museum in the Midwest, and the Zell Holocaust Memorial exhibit. The Community Foundation for Jewish Education, a support foundation of the Jewish Federation, provides resources and services on behalf of the Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform congregations and their movements.

There are a half dozen congregations in the downtown-near north area, including Reform, Conservative, Traditional and non-denominational.


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