Community Area #31, the Lower West Side is 3 miles southwest of the loop. It is bounded on the south and east by the South branch of the Chicago River and on the north and west by the Burlington Northern Railroad. The oldest section is known as Pilsen, named for the city in Bohemia, where many of the earliest settlers to the area immigrated from. The initial popularity of the area was as a place for Bohemians to rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The area west of Pilsen was known as the Heart of Chicago, and soon became as popular as Pilsen, and as immigrants from different countries came to America, many of them settled in Heart of Chicago. Many of the residents of both main sections of the Lower West Side were laborers and worked in the city’s factories, in the nearby stockyards or meat packers, or as tradesmen.
The housing is most often modest brick worker’s cottages and practical multi-unit housing, and the area is dominated by several monumental churches, whose influence and congregation’s popularity helped bring population and development to the area, including St. Paul’s, St. Pius and St. Adalbert. Beyond the churches and residences, the Lower West Side also includes grand treasures by the biggest luminaries of Chicago architecture. Highlights in the area and on the bike tour include the Daniel Burnham designed Fisk Power Plant, the Pond and Pond designed Gad’s Hill Center, the William Carbys Zimmerman designed Dvorak Park Fieldhouse and the Schmidt and Garden designed Schoenhofen Brewery. Join us for a day on your bike digging the Lower West Side.
Upcoming date for the Tour of the Lower West Side
- February 2015
Previous dates of the Tour of the Lower West Side
- April 25, 2010
- August 14, 2011
- February 9, 2013