Near East Side
Many of the Loop's newer skyscrapers are residential towers built northeast of Millennium Park between Stetson Avenue and Lake Shore Drive and bounded by the Chicago River in the north and Randolph Street in the south, an area known as the Near East Side. Pictured above are the Shoreham, the Lancaster, and North Harbor Tower.
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Before the new residential towers, the Near East Side was once a large rail yard where goods were shipped so that they could be loaded onto waiting boats on the Chicago River bound for ports in the East (You can see a picture of this from about 1865 at the Encyclopedia of Chicago here). This was the site of some of the world's first grain elevators built originally in the 1850's. Since handling grain through the elevator system was so much more efficient than handing them by hand, sack by sack, it allowed merchants at the Chicago Board of Trade in the Central Loop area to develop many new methods to sell the grain, including grain futures, which revolutionized the industry. Today there is nothing left to remind the visitor of the area's importance to the agricultural industry as the railroads and the grain elevators have all been replaced by shimmering glass and steel skyscrapers.
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