Streeterville, a Chicago Neighborhood Guide

Streeterville is a neighborhood that caters to both locals and visitors; it is a family-oriented neighborhood as well as a major tourist destination. With its colorful history and its something-for-everyone attractions, Streeterville is one of Chicago’s most interesting neighborhoods.

Lying between the most popular beaches of Lake Michigan and the north end of Michigan Avenue, Streeterville neighborhood is one of Chicago’s most cosmopolitan neighborhoods. Part of the Near North and the Gold Coast, it is moments away from the Magnificent Mile and some of the world’s most fashionable shops, four-star restaurants, museums, and theaters.

Streeterville includes Navy Pier, the Ferris wheel and the water. The Pier, with its skyline views, boat rides, shows, restaurants and refreshments — and the Shakespeare Theatre — is one of Chicago’s prime visitor attractions. It’s the Ferris wheel that especially resonates, not only as a revolving, twinkling billboard of sorts but as a link to the city’s history: The first one in the world, recycled long ago, rose in the Hyde Park neighborhood for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition.

The Streeterville territory between Lake Michigan and street addresses that begin at 200 East is dominated by large buildings — vintage and newer condominiums and apartments, and health care and research facilities associated with Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

There are also points of interest for visitors and locals alike.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, behind Water Tower Place (which belongs to the Mag Mile), combines its own collection of post-1945 artwork with changing exhibitions. Some of the artists in its own collection are familiar — works by Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Claes Oldenberg and Ed Paschke and more. Others are there to be discovered and debated.

Mies Van Der Rohe, the modernist architect and designer, lived at 200 E. Pearson St. He’s not represented in the museum and didn’t live to see it — his 1967 death preceded its opening by 27 years — but his flat is just north of the museum’s entrance . . . which faces Mies Van Der Rohe Way.

Want to see Van Der Rohe’s “less is more” in the neighborhood? Walk toward the lake along Oak Street east of Michigan — Oak Street becomes East Lake Shore Drive here — pass the Drake Hotel (Mag Mile again), admire the row of exquisite apartment buildings along the way, continue to the end of the block, turn right and you’ll see a pair of tall, mostly-glass buildings framed by a grid of black steel.

The buildings are 860-880 Lake Shore Drive (1949-51). Considered by architecture buffs to be the quintessential minimalist Mies, the concept has been much-emulated, even by Van Der Rohe. (See the 1959 Dirksen and Kluczynski Federal Buildings in the Loop.)

For an idea of what the neighborhood looked like before things got big here, find 222 E. Ontario St. , a half-block east of St. Clair. This is Les Nomades, one of Streeterville’s finest restaurants.

But before you drop in for dinner, or even if you don’t, look at the townhouse it’s in. Walk west past the big Marriott hotel next door that dwarfs the restaurant and check out 212 E. Ontario, another townhouse, this one converted to offices.

That’s what was.

Back to what is.

On Illinois Street near Navy Pier, warehouses have become the River East Art Center. The open loft/glass setting of the galleries is almost as interesting as the artwork featured within them.

At 610 N. Fairbanks Court, and easily bypassed, is the Pritzker Military Library. Students of war — particularly wars involving the U.S. but all wars dating to the Punic ones (Rome vs. Carthage, of course) — will find priceless resources here; more casual observers might find its poster collection and rotating exhibitions of interest.

Streeterville does have, along with Les Nomades, other restaurants of note. Critics have swooned over Pelago Ristorante (Italian), on Delaware Place in the Raffaello Hotel, unrecognizable from its days as a piano bar and Harry Caray hangout. The Saloon Steakhouse, on Chestnut Street in the Seneca Hotel, has devotees among local carnivores. Emilio’s Sol y Nieve, on Ohio Street, offers mostly tapas. And on Grand Avenue at St. Clair Street, in the afternoon shadow of Tribune Tower, is Volare, another well-rated Italian restaurant.

And speaking of food and drink: Show business fans will be interested to know that the third floor at 610 Fairbanks — one level above the Pritzker library — from 1932 until 1960 was home to the Chez Paree nightclub, Chicago’s Copacabana.

Streeterville Attractions

Streeterville is a popular neighborhood among visitors to Chicago, in that it has museums, theater, shopping, dining, and entertainment all in one place.

The Streeterville neighborhood includes one of the best-known museums in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA holds over 6,000 objects of art in all media and genres, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, film and performance pieces. The building itself is impressive, with a view of Lake Michigan and a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden. The Museum hosts several events throughout the year, including Free Tuesdays, 8-Minute Dating, a Book Fair and The Literary Gangs of Chicago.

Another major Streeterville attraction is The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which was founded in 1986 and moved to Navy Pier in 1999. This theater is dedicated to bringing to life the works of William Shakespeare and holds 510 seats on three levels that curve around the stage. The theater, although it seats hundreds of people, retains a very intimate air; there are only nine rows of seats, so audience members in the most distant seats are still very close to the stage.

The theater offers visitors a variety of ways to spend time before the show begins. There are lobbies with views of Lake Michigan, as well as a bookstore, a pub, and even a pre-show with a member of the cast or with a Shakespeare scholar. The theater also sponsors Team Shakespeare, one of the country’s largest arts-in-education programs that offer a collection of on-site teaching and reference materials, affordable tickets to students, and free teacher workshops.

Streeterville is also home to Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s best-known destinations. The Pier draws over 8 million visitors each year. Built in 1909, Navy Pier has undergone many changes, resulting in the family-oriented, fun-filled entertainment spot it is today. The list of things-to-do is long: there is a Ferris wheel, a carousel, an old-fashioned swing ride, a miniature golf course, a cliff climb, a maze, a children’s museum, and an IMAX theater to keep the kids entertained for hours. There is also a convention hall for large groups.

In addition, there are shops, boat cruises, two performance stages, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. Clearly, Navy Pier is a microcosm that offers hours of entertainment for every member of the family.

Of course, all this activity can lead to a big appetite. For this reason, Navy Pier boasts a number of restaurants. Apart from street vendors selling everything from Italian ice to elephant ears, there are establishments such as Billy Goat’s Tavern, Bubba Gump, Capi’s Italian Kitchen, the Dock Street Café and Haagen Dazs.

A few steps away from Navy Pier is Ohio St. Beach, a cozy little beach that is frequented by inhabitants of Streeterville. There is a lifeguard on duty, making this beach child-friendly. The landscape around the beach is surreal; it is interesting to enjoy a day at the beach while being gazed down upon by some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.

For those interested in the history of the Citizen Soldier, Streeterville’s Pritzker Military Library is a good place to visit. The library contains over 9000 volumes focusing on 20th century modern warfare and the American Civil War and is dedicated to portraying the soldier as essential to the preservation of democracy.

860-880 Lake Shore Drive

  • Historical Landmarks

Deceptively simple in appearance, these twin apartment towers by Mies van der Rohe set the standard by which all subsequent glass-and-steel high-rises are judged. Few, if any, have come even close to these buildings’ perfection in form, proportions, and detailing. They are featured in every book on modern architecture, and are among the best known of the city’s post-World War II architecture.

Free Admission | 860 N. Lake Shore Dr.

Arts Club of Chicago

  • Art & Architecture

Operating since 1916, the Arts Club offers three public art exhibits per year on the first floor of the building. Once the site of Pablo Picasso’s first art show in the United States, the Arts Club has also hosted exhibits and lectures by Pierre Renoir, Marcel Duchamp, and Jean DuBuffet.

Free Admission | 201 E. Ontario St. | 312.787.3997

Chicago Children’s Museum

  • Museums & Zoos,
  • Popular Attractions

Chicago Children’s Museum is the place where play and learning connect! Located on historic Navy Pier, the museum makes math, science, reading, the arts, and the city’s vibrant cultures come alive for kids through age 10 and their families.

Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave. | 312.527.1000

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

  • Historical Landmarks

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is the only surviving lighthouse in Chicago and one of only two remaining in Illinois. Built in 1893, the Lighthouse symbolically marks the Chicago Harbor; a historically pivotal point where the nation’s maritime transportation network connected the Great Lakes, the East Coast, and ultimately the Gulf Coast.

Free Admission | Chicago Harbor

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

  • Popular Attractions,
  • Theater & Dance

Recipient of the 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award, Chicago Shakespeare Theater offers a broad spectrum of theatrical experiences year-round, engaging and entertaining audiences from all walks of life and from around the world.

Free Admission | 800 E. Grand Ave. | 312.595.5600

East Lake Shore Drive District

  • Historical Landmarks

This dramatic row of eight buildings, designed between 1912 and 1929 by Marshall & Fox and Fugard & Knapp, epitomizes the city’s luxury apartment boom of the early-20th century. The architectural details and ornamentation is derived from the historical styles of England, France, and Italy. These residences helped establish the apartment building as an acceptable alternative to large townhouses or suburban estates.

Free Admission | 179 E. Lake Shore Dr.

Former Home of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

  • Historical Landmarks

The master of Modern architecture and one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe reshaped the skylines of America’s major cities in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. For much of his life he lived at 200 E. Pearson St. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction.

Free Admission | 200 E. Pearson St.

Former Home of Octave Chanute

  • Historical Landmarks

A renowned civil engineer, Octave Chanute built railroads that opened the American West, designed Chicago’s Union Stock Yards, and advised the Wright brothers as they developed their flying machine. He lived at 224 (formerly 413) E. Huron St. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction.

Free Admission | 224 E. Huron St.

Lake Shore Park

  • Parks & Gardens

Lake Shore Park sits atop what were originally the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. Today, Lake Shore Park offers extensive outdoor recreational opportunities in this densely populated community, including tennis courts, a quarter mile soft surface running track, softball diamonds, a playground, a full-size gymnasium, and a fitness center and meeting rooms available for rent inside.

Free Admission | 808 N. Lake Shore Dr. | 312.742.7891

Lookingglass Theatre Company

  • Theater & Dance

The Lookingglass Theatre Company combines a physical and improvisational rehearsal process centered on ensemble with training in theatre, dance, music, and the circus arts. The company has a permanent home in the historic Water Tower building, located on the Magnificent Mile.

821 N. Michigan Ave. | 312.337.0665

Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Art & Architecture,
  • Museums & Zoos,
  • Theater & Dance

One of the nation’s largest facilities devoted to the art of our time, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) offers exhibitions of the most thought-provoking art created since 1945. The MCA documents contemporary visual culture through painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance.

220 E. Chicago Ave | 312.397.4010

Navy Pier

  • Music,
  • Popular Attractions,
  • Theater & Dance

Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most popular attractions and features more than 50 acres of parks, promenades and attractions for visitors and residents to enjoy, from an iconic Ferris Wheel to the popular Chicago Children’s Museum, and much more.

Free Admission | 600 E. Grand Ave | 312.595.PIER

Pier Park

  • Other Attractions,
  • Parks & Gardens,
  • Popular Attractions

Pier Park offers games and rides for both children and adults to experience. It is located just behind the Crystal Gardens.

600 E. Grand Ave. | 312.595.PIER

River East Art Center

  • Art & Architecture

In this large and beautiful venue, visitors can observe artists at work, take a class, attend an event, or tour one of the renowned galleries in the building, such as Dali Lamb Studio, Ogilvie/Pertl Gallery and The Repose Gallery.

Free Admission | 435 E. Illinois St. | 312.321.1001

Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows

  • Art & Architecture,
  • Museums & Zoos

One hundred eighty-five stained glass windows from Chicago and around the world, including: Frank Lloyd Wright, Tiffany, and Mayer. Family friendly. Open when Navy Pier is open. Always free admission.

Free Admission | 600 E. Grand Ave., Navy Pier | 312.595.7437

Streeterville Community

The inhabitants of Streeterville are business people as well as families, professionals as well as the working class. There are several hospitals in the area, as part of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and thus there are several members of the medical community living in and near Streeterville as well.

The neighborhood is tightly-knit and involved. The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, or SOAR, is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1975. The organization is dedicated to “Working to Keep Streeterville a Neighborhood” by promoting a sense of community and safety in the area. SOAR is run entirely on a volunteer basis.

Streeterville is one of Chicago’s gems; this tiny neighborhood is full of people with a lot of heart and is a constant draw for those who want to have a lot of fun.

Streeterville Neighborhood Map of Chicago

Chicago's Streeterville Neighborhood Map

Where Streeterville gets its name

Streeterville owes its name to an interesting and quirky tale.

George Wellington “Cap” Streeter was a jack-of-all-trades who, in 1886, purchased a boat, named it the Reutan, and took it for a test run on Lake Michigan during a storm. Cap and his wife, who was also aboard, ended up on a sandbar 450 feet east of Michigan Avenue. Instead of digging themselves out once the storm had passed, they decided to live on the sandbar, aboard their boat.
At this time, only 15 years after the Great Chicago Fire, the city of Chicago was in the midst of rebuilding. Cap Streeter told several contractors that they could use his sandbar as a dump for a small fee, and soon the sandbar extended the shoreline by 186 acres!

Cap found that Chicago (and Illinois) ended at the original shoreline, and thus his sandbar was not considered to be a part of either. He named it the “District of Lake Michigan” and claimed full rights to this land.

At this point, Cap began selling small parts of his land and thus a shantytown was born on the sandbar. Cap built a house on the land amidst the squalor. Before long, some of Chicago’s wealthier businessmen petitioned to have Cap and the shantytown residents booted off the land since the land could be better used, in their opinion, as a highway connecting the Loop to the Gold Coast.

After several ensuing battles over ownership of the land, Cap was arrested for an unrelated, minor offense. During this time, his home was burned down and he finally lost control of the land. He died in 1921.

The land where the sandbar originated is now some of Chicago’s most expensive real estate.

Location & Area

North Boundary: 1000 N Oak
South Boundary: 500 N Grand
East Boundary: ~300-500 E Lake Michigan
West Boundary: 100 E Michigan
Primary Zip Code: 60611

Current Trends and Facts of Streeterville Chicago

In addition to the sites and shops of the Magnificent Mile, residents are able to walk to Navy Pier for shopping, recreation, music, or just to watch the sailboats drift by. Its location also gives residents access to the world-famous Oak Street Beach and the John Hancock building.

Streeterville neighborhood is considered by many to be an epicenter of culture with the amazing Museum of Contemporary Art at its heart. It also attracts many intellectuals and students with the downtown campus and medical center of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.

In fact, Streeterville’s premier location allows many residents to live without a car, relying on cabs, walking and ample public transportation.



Chestnut Street Dining

  • Various

This quaint, scenic strip of Chestnut offers classy dining options such as Saloon Steakhouse (200 E. Chestnut St.) and Le Petit Paris (230 E. Chestnut St.).

200 E. Chestnut St.

Drake Hotel Dining

  • Various

The Drake Hotel continues to be a favorite among dignitaries, royalty, and celebrities alike. The Drake offers four outstanding restaurants, The Cape Cod Room, Coq D’Or, Palm Court, and Drake Bros’, each with its own unique character.

140 E. Walton Pl.

Emilio’s Sol y Nieve

  • Tapas Bars

Chef-owner Emilio Gervilla started making tapas in his grandfather’s bakery and tapas bar when he was a child in Granada, Spain. Carrying on the family tradition, Emilio now owns two tapas bars, including Emilio’s Sol y Nieve, and was once called the “King of Tapas” by Crain’s.

215 E. Ohio St. | 312.467.7177

Fox & Obel

  • Food Retail: Grocery

A gourmet market, café, wine bar, and catering company, Fox & Obel has become a favorite of Chicago foodies since it opened in 2001. Cook your own meal with their fresh produce and meats or dine in their café and wine bar.

401 E. Illinois St. | 312.410.7301

Illinois & Columbus Dining, Drinking and Bowling

  • Various

With places like the classic PJ Clarke’s (302 E. Illinois St.), Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge (332 E. Illinois St.), and Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge (322 E. Illinois St.), the corner of Columbus and Illinois proves to be a vibrant place to grab a bite, grab a drink, and bowl a strike.

322 E. Illinois St.

Les Nomades

  • French

Known to be one of Chicago’s premier fine dining establishments, Les Nomades prides itself on traditional French fare with the freshest of ingredients. Chris Nugent, the executive chef at Les Nomades has been involved in preparing, cooking, and serving fine French food since the age of fourteen.

222 E. Ontario St. | 312.649.9010

Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub

  • Irish

“The only Irish pub on the Chicago River,” Lizzie McNeill’s is tucked away in a scenic enclave that feels like it is much more than three blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile.

400 N. McClurg Ct. | 312.467.1992

More Dining

  • Dining

For more dining options, visit the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (625 N. Michigan Ave.)

625 N. Michigan Ave.

Ontario & St. Clair Dining

  • Various

Italian and French cooking prevail at this gastronomic corner with restaurants such as the Tuscan influenced Coco Pazzo Cafe (636 N. St. Clair St.), the colorful Bice Ristorante (158 E. Ontario St.), and the French fusion style Viand (150 E. Ontario St.).

158 E. Ontario St.

Pelago Ristorante

  • Italian

Adjoined to the lavish Hotel Raffaello, Pelago is owned by Michelin starred Italian chef Mauro Mafrici and architect Kimberly Anguil Mafrici. Together the husband and wife team creates an upscale Italian restaurant with the finest food and decor.

201 E. Delaware Pl. | 312.280.0700

Rosebud Steakhouse

  • Steakhouses

Part of the Chicago-based Rosebud restaurants franchise, Rosebud Steakhouse is a “rare steakhouse, well done.” Their burger was rated the #1 in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune.

192 E. Walton St. | 312.397.1000


  • Middle Eastern

Featured on WTTW’s Check, Please!, Sayat-Nova is an intimate neighborhood restaurant with a 40-year tradition of serving authentic Armenian/Middle Eastern cuisine. The menu has barely changed since they opened, and popular items like the red lentil soup and Armenian combo taste the same as they did in the 70s.

157 E. Ohio St. | 312.644.9159

The Indian Garden

  • Indian

Indian restaurant with very authentic food and atmosphere. Has a popular lunch buffet. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.

247 E. Ontario St. | 312.280.4910

Volare Italian Restaurant

  • Italian

Established in 1997, Volare reflects the look and feel of an old world Italian restaurant. Volare breaks the traditional mold, however, and offers pastas and sauces separately, asking diners to choose their favorite of each.

201 E. Grand Ave. | 312.410.9900

Wave Restaurant

  • Mediterranean

Enjoy great views of the lake with your meal from Wave Restaurant in the W Hotel. The Mediterranean inspired cuisine showcases Execute Chef Kristine Subido’s global spice expertise in every dish. Stop by Wednesdays at 5:30 pm to taste Chef Subido’s version of street food of a different country each month, paired with a signature cocktail, all for only $10.

644 N. Lake Shore Dr. | 312.255.4460

West Egg Café

  • American (Traditional)

Reasonable prices, large portions, and tasty food make West Egg Café a neighborhood favorite. They specialize in egg dishes, which (along with the rest of the menu) are available all day long.

620 N. Fairbanks Ct. | 312.280.8366


M.C.A. Store

  • Art,
  • Books, Mags, Music & Video,
  • Home Decor

The Museum of Contemporary Art Store is no ordinary museum gift shop with its impressive collection of contemporary home furnishings, as well as unique gifts, personal accessories and artwork that appeals to shoppers of discerning taste and style.

220 E. Chicago Ave. | 312.280.2660

More Shopping

  • Various

For more shopping options, visit the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (625 N. Michigan Ave.)

625 N. Michigan Ave.

Water Tower Place

  • Shopping Centers

Located next to the historic Chicago Water Tower, this vertical shopping center features more than 100 stores and restaurants, including American Girl Place and Macy’s. Water Tower Place is connected to the Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel). Dine at the popular food court Foodlife, an urban dining venue with 14 distinctive kitchens.

835 N. Michigan Ave. | 312.440.3166


Mystic Blue Cruises

  • Boat

Experience a casual and exciting Brunch, Lunch, Midday, Lakefront Escape, Dinner or Moonlight Cruise aboard Mystic Blue Cruises. Three enclosed decks and one open-air deck offer spectacular views of Chicago’s world famous skyline.

600 E. Grand Ave.

Odyssey Cruises

  • Boat

Odyssey offers the most luxurious interior of any vessel on Lake Michigan. Dine on delicious cuisine, dance to live music, and view the most spectacular views of the world-famous Chicago skyline aboard any of our three-climate controlled decks.

600 E. Grand Ave.

Seadog Cruises

  • Boat

Seadog Cruises offers the most exciting boat tours on Lake Michigan. Hop onboard at Navy Pier and enjoy an amusing 75-minute River Architectural Tour, an exciting 30-minute Lakefront Speedboat Tour or the thrill of a ride on the all new, jet propelled Seadog EXTREME!

600 E. Grand Ave.

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Fireworks Cruises

  • Boat

This exciting 75-minute combination tour begins with a dramatic nighttime Chicago River Architecture Cruise, led by a professional Shoreline docent, and concludes with front-row viewing of the lakefront fireworks from Shoreline Sightseeing’s Navy Pier dock.

600 E. Grand Ave. | 312.222.9328

Shoreline Sightseeing: Architecture Cruises

  • Boat

Join Shoreline on their famous one-hour Architecture Cruise on the historic Chicago River. Professional and entertaining guides describe over 40 landmark buildings and recount the dramatic story of Chicago’s rise from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire.

600 E. Grand Ave. | 312.222.9328

Shoreline Sightseeing: Skyline Tour on Lake Michigan

  • Boat

See all of Chicago’s fabulous lakefront sights and attractions with a convenient half-hour Lake Michigan boat ride from Shoreline’s Navy Pier dock.

Navy Pier, 500 W. Grand Ave. | 312.222.9328

Spirit of Chicago Cruises

  • Boat

Step aboard the Spirit of Chicago and enjoy an exciting afternoon or evening of vibrant fun. You’ll dine and dance, be dazzled by interactive entertainers and marvel at the most breathtaking skyline views in the city.

600 E. Grand Ave.

Tall Ship Windy

  • Boat

Tall Ship Windy, Chicago’s official tall ship, offers a variety of tours from Navy Pier aboard a 148-foot, 4 masted sailing ship. Most tours are themed, with onboard story telling that appeals to all ages.

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. | 312.731.9689


Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

  • Film,
  • Kid and Family Events

Facets’ Chicago International Children’s Film Festival is the largest annual festival of films for children in the world, programming 250 films and videos from 40 countries.

1517 W. Fullerton Ave | 773.281.9075

Museum of Contemporary Art/Streeterville Farmers Market

  • Culinary Events,
  • Farmers Markets

Fresh fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers will be sold at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Streeterville Farmers Market every Tuesday from 7am-3pm.

Free Admission | Chicago Ave. & Mies van der Rohe Way | 312.744.3315