The Loop is Chicago’s official downtown area. Although commonly thought to have been named after the loop of the “L” elevated train line in the center of the business district, the name Loop actually refers to the streetcar route of 1882.

Many large, international businesses have offices and/or are headquartered in the Loop. State Street, considered to be the main thoroughfare is a famed shopping destination. As the second largest downtown business district in the United States, the Loop’s famous skyscrapers and historic buildings have defined the community, from Chicago’s first ornate skyscrapers that still stand, to Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) at 110 stories.

Officially, Chicago Loop real estate is bounded by Lake Michigan to the east and the Chicago River on the north and west. The southern boundary is Roosevelt Road, across which is the South Loop. To the West is the West Loop; to the north is River North and Streeterville.

Between the bustling business district and the Lake is Grant Park – over 300 acres of open space and home to music, art and cultural festivals, most notably the Taste of Chicago, which runs for about 10 days around the 4th of July weekend, the Blues Festival, and the rock festival Lollapalooza. The more prominent features of the park are the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, the Petrillo Music Shell, the Museum Campus and the famous Buckingham Fountain. Monroe Harbor and the Chicago Yacht Club create a picturesque lakefront with its sailboats, the lighthouse and breakwalls.

There are hundreds of residential buildings in the Loop, mixed in with the office towers. Most residential Loop real estate, as could be expected, are high-rise condominiums or apartments – and there always seems to be a new residential tower going up, even in a poor economy. Rents range from the affordable to the super-luxury penthouses overlooking Millenium Park. There is plenty of reason to want to live in the Loop. Besides being close to your job, art and theater are well-established in the Loop, which has its own theater district and the Civic Opera House and Symphony Center on South Michigan Avenue. And the dining selections and nightlife options are plentiful.