Few Chicago neighborhoods have undergone as dramatic a transformation in such a short amount of time as the West Loop. A downtrodden area for much of the 20th century, the West Loop turned a corner when the newly built United Center hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1996. In the ensuing years, the land between the stadium and the Loop would fill in rapidly with trendy loft conversions, new-construction condos, art galleries, boutiques, night clubs and dozens of new restaurants.

New West Loop condo developments have become more sophisticated in recent years, both in terms of architecture and amenities - a reflection of the neighborhood's escalating cool factor. But buyers can still get a lot for their money. Most West Loop properties are priced in the $250,000 to $500,000 range.

In addition to trendy shops and art galleries, The West Loop is home to a thriving restaurant district on Randolph Street, offering up everything from sushi to haute cuisine. In fact, some of the city’s finest restaurants can be found in the West Loop, including the acclaimed Girl and the Goat and Next. Residents can also enjoy a range of excellent dining options in nearby Greektown, Fulton Market and Little Italy. The United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, is located in the West Loop, as are several large companies, including Google and Hillshire Brands Inc., which have relocated to the area.