The Loop or Chicago Loop is one of 77 officially designated community areas in the City of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is the historic commercial center of downtown Chicago. It is the seat of government for Chicago and Cook County, as well as the historic theater and shopping district.
As established in social research done by the University of Chicago in the 1920s, the Loop is a defined community area of Chicago. The name comes from the eleveated train tracks that form a loop. Chicago's central business district community area is bounded on the west and north by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road. But the commercial core has grown into adjacent community areas.
The community area includes Grant Park and one of the largest art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago. Other major cultural institutions here include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Goodman Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the Cloud Gate, the Willis Tower, the Chicago Board of Trade Building, the central public Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center.
In what is now the Loop Community Area, on the southern banks of the Chicago River, near today's Michigan Avenue Bridge, the U.S. Army erected Fort Dearborn in 1803. It was the first settlement in the area sponsored by the United States.