The Loop, as it's officially known to Chicagoans, or Chicago Loop as it's known to the rest of the world, is one of 77 officially designated neighborhoods in Chicago. It is the historic commercial center of Downtown Chicago as well as the seat of government for Chicago and Cook County. The Loop is also the main theater and shopping district.
In addition to these attractions, The Loop also is home to Grant Park and one of the largest art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago. Other major cultural institutions that call The Loop home are the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Goodman Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the central public Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center.
Origin of the Name
The first settlement in the area by the United States was Fort Dearborn, erected in 1803 on the southern banks of the Chicago River. The original fort constructed by the U.S. Army was The Loop, which is on the southern banks of the Chicago River, near today's Michigan Avenue Bridge.
It is believed the origin of the term “loop” is derived from the cable car turning loops in the central business district, and especially those of two lines that shared a loop, constructed in 1882, bounded by Madison, Wabash, State and Lake. Others believe that "the Loop" was not used as a proper noun until after the 1895–97 construction of the Union elevated railway loop...known affectionately as “The L.”
Loop architecture has been dominated by high-rises since early in its history. Notable buildings include the Home Insurance Building, considered the first skyscraper (demolished in 1931); the Chicago Board of Trade Building, a National Historic Landmark; and Willis Tower, the tallest building in the United States, soon to be eclipsed by the World Trade Center in New York. Some of the historic buildings in this district were instrumental in the development of high-rises. Chicago's street numbering system—dividing addresses into North, South, East and West quadrants, originates in the Loop at the intersection of State Street and Madison Street.