Welcome to Chicago, one of the most exciting and breathtaking cities in the world. As the third-largest U.S. city, Chicago abounds with cultural, artistic, and professional opportunities.

With a rich history in entertainment, media, and the arts, the city features world-class museums, newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations, theaters, corporations, publishers, sports organizations, agencies, studios, festivals, galleries, restaurants, parks, and cultural institutions. Chicago is also an emerging leader in the technology industry, with new businesses and startups that are shaping the future of many creative fields.

Columbia's campus sits at the heart of it all, in Chicago's arts and education corridor known as the South Loop. Our front yard is Grant Park, which rests on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan and is home to many of the city's music and art festivals. Just steps away is Chicago's Museum Campus, featuring the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium. To the west is the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), and to the north is Millenium Park, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier.

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Though everything you need is just steps away from Columbia's residence halls and campus buildings, Chicago's comprehensive public transportation system, known as the CTA, provides easy access all over the city. Full-time students receive a Ventra U-Pass that provides unlimited rides on the CTA. Visit colum.edu/upass for more information.

Here are just a handful of the city's culturally rich, diverse, and inspiring neighborhoods to explore:

Bridgeport: Located south of Columbia, Bridgeport is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. Some of the highlights include Guaranteed Rate Field (where the Chicago White Sox play), a variety of ethnic restaurants, and the Bridgeport Art Center, home to design studios, an event venue, and gallery space. 

Lincoln Park: A residential neighborhood north of the city along Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park features sprawling parks, beaches (yes, it does get hot in Chicago), the free Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Old Town: A historic and beautiful neighborhood just north of downtown, Old Town is home to Second City, the internationally known comedy club that launched the careers of Tina Fey, Billy Murray, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert and, most recently, Columbia's own Aidy Bryant. Columbia's Comedy Studies program partners with the Second City.

Pilsen: Located in Chicago's lower west side, Pilsen is a cultural gem. Within its borders is one of Chicago's largest art districts—which includes the National Museum of Mexican Art—as well as many Mexican bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores.

Uptown: This neighborhood north of the city features an entertainment district with music venues, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops. The Aragon Ballroom and the Riviera Theatre are popular music venues, while the historic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge (once frequented by infamous gangster Al Capone) is known for its jazz shows. 

Wicker Park: This near northwest neighborhood is a hotspot for musicians, foodies and artists. Known for its independent businesses, art shops, restaurants and venues, there's always something to do in this young, vibrant community.