How to Settle Chicago Neighborhood Fights

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone about exactly where one neighborhood ends and another begins? It’s not uncommon to hear people in the office or the corner bar discuss and debate where the boundaries of the Gold Coast are, or what the Hell is “North Center.”

The problem is that the city maintains two different classes of neighborhoods. One is actually called “neighborhoods.” The other is called “community areas.” The good news is that the city maintains detailed maps showing exactly where the lines are. So for your dispute-settling needs, download the following PDFs:

The Official Chicago Neighborhood Map

The Official Chicago Community Area Map

You’ll notice a few things right off the bat — that the Gold Coast begins at Chicago Avenue, not at Division like a lot of people assume. And that the Cathedral District doesn’t officially exist. Oh, and that brownstone two-flat you bought on Jackson past the United Center that your real estate agent swore up and down was the “West Loop.” Yeah, well he’s a big fat liar. You’re represen’in’ Garfield Park.


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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  1. Great post – although Streeterville is on the Neighborhood map…just south of the extended Gold Coast

    Also, it appears that the Gold Coast starts north of Grand (east of N Michigan) and becomes wider at both Chicago and Division.

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  2. Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t notice the Streeterville label because it’s out to sea.

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