Widely known as Boystown, Northalsted owns the distinction of being the oldest officially recognized gay neighborhood in the United States. It will come as no surprise Northalsted is not only the epicenter of LGBTQ+ life in Chicago, but for the entire Midwest.
Annually, this approximately one-mile expanse of North Halsted Street, plays host to two of the city’s biggest events -— Pride Fest, Chicago’s two-day LGBTQ+ pride celebration, attended by more than one million spectators every year, and the famed Northalsted Market Days, the largest street festival in the Midwest, which takes place every August. Other popular local events include September’s Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, the second longest-running film festival of its kind, and October’s Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade, Chicago’s biggest neighborhood Halloween event.
Beyond these perennial special events, Northalsted pulsates with activities and sights year-round. Case in point: the Legacy Walk, the world’s only outdoor LGBTQ+ history museum and Chicago’s newest historic landmark, located on Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue and Grace Street. And then, of course, there’s the nightlife — perhaps the most defining attribute of this inclusive and inviting neighborhood. Take in a comedy show at The Annoyance Theatre, where the likes of Jane Lynch and Amy Sedaris have found a showcase for their talents or hit up the Chicago outpost of the world-famous Laugh Factory, where they have just completed a $5 million renovation.
For a bit of bar hopping or clubbing, you’ll find no shortage of options in Northalsted where the party never stops. One of the most popular haunts is the venerable Sidetrack Bar where, in addition to an always happening dance floor and bar, Showtune Sundays are a weekly staple, as are regular RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties. Another fave is the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, where cool martinis, Hollywood-inspired nibbles, and over-the-top drag divas are always on the menu.