Envisioned as the "gateway from the west into the loop" by famed architect and city planner Daniel Burnham, Chicago's West Loop community has a long and colorful history. Once one of Chicago's most densely populated areas, the West Loop was home to immigrants and wealthy Chicagoans alike. With the construction of two new elevated railroads in the late 1800's and the subsequent industrialization of the area, many residents were displaced or moved to avoid the bitter (and sometimes violent) labor strikes and conflicts of the near west side.
Today, the West Loop is home to some of the best restaurants, nightlife and galleries in the city. While many of the industrial buildings have been converted into residential lofts, the area still maintains a somewhat gritty, industrial feel with numerous warehouses, food distributors and small manufacturing businesses. This is a neighborhood where you'll find great restaurants, galleries, designer boutiques or upscale clubs hidden between empty warehouses and wholesale meat and produce distributors.
Although very close to the hustle-and-bustle of the Loop (just across the Chicago River), it is a much less traveled area of the city with more limited public transportation options. The best way to reach the West Loop is on foot, by cab or via the CTA. (CTA options include the #20 Madison Street bus or the CTA Blue Line subway. You can catch the Blue Line subway on Dearborn Street in the Loop. Head towards Forest Park and get off at the UIC-Halsted stop. Walk north into the West Loop.) Given the fact that the West Loop is less populated with many of its areas-of-interest dispersed among industrial buildings, be aware of your surroundings. In the evenings, take a taxi to the restaurants and bars along Randolph, Lake and Fulton Streets. These areas are also your best bets for finding a taxi back home. The Greektown area, given its proximity to the downtown business district, is lively day and night, and is also a good place to find a taxi. (Approximate distance of walking tour: 2.25 miles.)