Home College Towns This Is the Best Downtown In the Midwest

This Is the Best Downtown In the Midwest

This Is the Best Downtown In the Midwest

Downtown Evanston, Illinois, has a high concentration of “creator” types, from artists and engineers, to technology designers and researchers. Downtown Evanston offers a safe and walkable environment that’s packed with entertainment options and small, sustainable businesses.

With Northwestern University and gorgeous Lake Michigan views, culture galore, and social and economic diversity make Evanston the best downtown in the Midwest.

Evanston is not your typical Chicago suburban downtown. They have…

  • A unique skyline of contemporary condo buildings and post-modern office buildings.
  • A high concentration of cultural attractions and a social calendar that never quits.
  • Public transportation options that include light rail.
  • More than 10,000 jobs, leading to nearly 1,200 new condominium units being added to the real estate landscape since 2000.
  • A smarter than average population! More than 38 percent of Evanston’s downtown residents hold a degree.

It’s the home of Northwestern University

northwestern photo
Photo by jojolae

A 240-acre parcel of land in Evanston is home to one of Northwestern University’s three campuses-the others are located in Chicago and Doha, Qatar. Students of Northwestern University will all tell you that it’s the best, but those at the main campus in Evanston practically run the town around them. The school was founded in 1851 by John Evans, for whom Evanston is named. It is the only private university of the Big 10 Conference.

The University has actually created more land since its inception by way of an 84 acre lakefill in Lake Michigan. The parcel of land boasts walking paths, picnic areas, and vistas of Lake Michigan and Chicago. Among the buildings that call the new parcel of land home are the University Library, Norris University Center (which houses the student union), and Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

By Rdsmith4 - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5
By Rdsmith4Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

Ryan Field, the school’s football stadium, is a source of income for both the school and the town, but the real revenue streams are in the research labs that flourish with opportunities that keep Evanston on the map. Inventions like Lyrica, Pfizer’s drug for epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. In 2013 alone, the school’s researchers had made 247 inventions, filed 270 patents applications, received 81 patents, embarked on 12 startups, and generated $79.8 million in licensing.


Steve Elliot Co-founder of America Unraveled, editor, travel enthusiast.


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