Near West Side/University Village
Produced and edited by Candace Kuzmarski
The Near West Side, one of the 77 defined community areas of Chicago, is located (west of the Chicago River), adjacent to the downtown central business district (the Loop). The rich history of the Near West Side of Chicago has its genesis in the Hull House phenomenon. It was at the turn of the nineteenth century that Jane Addams and Ellen Starr chose the Near West Side slums to found America’s first settlement house. The world renowned Nobel Peace Prize winner labeled that immigrant community, “The Hull House Neighborhood.” Once a bubbling cauldron of European immigrants, its business districts:–(Greek Town, Maxwell Street and Little Italy)–remain as vestiges of the mass migration from southern Europe during the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. Only the Italian enclave continues to endure as a vibrant on-going community.
United Center Park
The center of the neighborhood is the United Center. The arena opened its doors in 1994, replacing Chicago Stadium. The United Center is not only home to the Bulls, but to the Blackhawks and the occasional WWE bout or Pearl Jam concert. At a cost of $175 million dollars and 960,000 square feet (89,000 m2) to work with, the United Center can seat between 20,000 and 25,000 people, depending on the event.
The Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) runs along United Center Park’s southern border providing easy access for residents commuting to and from work as well as for sports and music fans to get to the United Center Arena. The CTA Green Line has a stop at Ashland and the Blue Line Western Avenue stop is just beyond United Center Park’s southern border.