The small area within West Town east of the Kennedy Expressway and west of the North Branch of the Chicago River, between Division Street (1200N) and Grand Avenue (500N) is referred to as River West, complementing the River North area of the Near North Side. The small area is bisected by the elevated Union Pacific Railroad tracks. It contains several large loft buildings, most converted in the mid 1980s for residential use; several housing developments; St. John Cantius church; The Chicago Academy for the Arts located in St. John Cantius’ former school; the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing facility; some nightclubs and restaurants, and a few blocks of historic residential areas.
West Town, located in Chicago, Illinois, northwest of the Loop, on Chicago’s West Side is one of 77 officially designated Chicago community areas. Much of this area was historically part of the city’s Polish Downtown, and its name may refer to Western Avenue, which was the city’s western boundary at the time of West Town’s settlement, but more likely was a convenient abstraction by the creators of Chicago’s community areas. Then, as now, West Town was a collection of several distinct neighborhoods.
The boundaries of the community area are the Chicago River to the east, the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the south, the former railroad tracks on Bloomingdale Avenue to the North, and an irregular western border to the west that includes the city park called Humboldt Park. Humboldt Park is also the name of the community area to West Town’s west, Logan Square is to the north, Near North Side to the east, and Near West Side to the south. Currently, as well as historically, the collection of neighborhoods in West Town along with the neighborhoods of Bucktown and the eastern portion of Logan Square have been referred to by media as the Near Northwest Side.