West Town, located northwest of the Loop, on Chicago's West Side is one of 77 officially designated Chicago community areas. Much of this area was historically part of the city's Polish Downtown, and its name may refer to Western Avenue, which was the city's western boundary at the time of West Town's settlement, but more likely was a convenient abstraction by the creators of Chicago's community areas. Then, as now, West Town was a collection of several distinct neighborhoods. The boundaries of the community area are the Chicago River to the east, the Union Pacific railroad tracks to the south, the former railroad tracks on Bloomingdale Avenue to the North, and an irregular western border to the west that includes the city park called Humboldt Park.
The influx of artists, students, and other younger “bohemian” populations drew more affluent residents, particularly in the Bucktown section north of North Avenue. This gentrification subsequently spread to the southeast areas along Milwaukee Avenue and Halsted, with restaurants, nightclubs, and shops near the cultural landmarks and institutions created and sustained by earlier residents. Lower-income residents of West Town have moved to areas further north and west to escape the area's rising real-estate values.
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