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Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, with nearly 3 million residents in the city and more than 8 million in the metro area. It is the center of commerce, finance, industry, and culture for the Midwestern United States.
The city covers more than 200 square miles and has 77 official community areas. Some names are instantly recognizable while others aren't much used outside of official pronouncements. Outside of the downtown Loop area, Chicago community areas group into six "sides" - the North Side, the Northwest Side, the Southwest Side, the West Side, the South Side, and the far South Side. The last includes a section of southeast Chicago addresses.
Most tourist-visited neighborhoods are on the North Side along the lakefront accessible by the CTA redline. That includes the hip River North area, home to hot clubs and trendy restaurants; the Gold Coast, home of the posh with access to Michigan Avenue's Mag Mile shopping district; Lincoln Park neighborhood, an upscale neighborhood with a singles nightlife; Wrigleyville, home of the Chicago Cubs and many bars, Lakeview-Boystown, the center of Chicago's gay community is densely populated with great bars and restaurants and farthest north is Andersonville, another gay community and good for a partial day trip of brunches and browsing boutique shops.
The South Side is adopted home of President Obama, who lives in Kenwood. It's also home of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox baseball team, which plays at a stadium on 35th Street, and the venerable University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Bronzeville, the historic heart of Chicago's Black Metropolis, and Chicago's Chinatown are two other South Side neighborhoods popular with tourists and safe during daylight visits. Another neighborhood worth a visit from tourists who are comfortable in a slightly edgier urban environment is the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen on the near Southwest Side.
Blacks who migrated north in the early 1900s were relegated to ghettos on the South and West Sides of the city. Some of those areas remain predominantly African-American. Garfield Park is a West Side neighborhood that's home to the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest and most impressive conservatories in the world. It is easily reached by the Green Line L and is safe to visit during the day.
Far South Side
Another historic neighborhood worth a daytime visit is Historic Pullman on the Far South Side. The neighborhood was built by rail car magnate George Pullman as a utopian workers' community. Today it is being gentrified, but is located near some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. If you want to visit, you'll want to rent a car and not venture to the areas outside of Historic Pullman.
Northwest and Southwest Sides
These neighborhoods are primarily residential and home to great swaths of Chicago bungalows, the classic 1.5-story brick houses built from 1910-1940. Initially settled by white ethnic immigrants from Europe, today the neighborhoods are a multi-ethnic melting pot of people who trace their heritage to all corners of the world. Both areas are home to a large percentage of Chicago police officers and firefighters.