The Story of Streeterville | Hotel EMC2

The Story of Streeterville

Today Streeterville is a destination known for great restaurants, luxury retail and department stores, tourist attractions, breathtaking views, and historical architecture amongst galleries. So, it pretty much has it all! And while many people love walking along The Magnificent Mile and exploring, most people don’t know its origin story. 

Here’s the story of Streeterville—how it came to be the extraordinary area it is today and why it’s worth a trip. 

Where it All Began

Streeterville was once just sand and water—literally—no people, buildings, or shops. Back in the late 1800s, a man named “Cap” George Streeter came to Chicago with his second wife, Maria by boat in 1886. Unfortunately, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Streeter, and a wild storm caused his boat to run aground on a sandbar in Lake Michigan. Streeter turned his misfortune into something marvelous—he made the area he landed on into his new home, which we now know today as Streeterville.

The city developed quickly, since Streeter chose to rent out his land as a public waste area. The only problem? The people living in his city were wealthy, and the “wasteland” Streeter was developing didn’t appeal to their high standards of living. They did try to end his “wasteland” business in court by attempting to take over the development and turn the land into more affluent and sophisticated neighborhoods.

Streeter put up a good fight, despite having little influence in the upper class community. One man in particular, a millionaire named Kellogg Fairbank, failed in his attempt at an 1893 lawsuit against Streeter. Streeter kept selling land and even created an army to control the residents of his land. For a while, he was successful.

How it Became a Luxury Destination

Yet in 1918, Streeter had to accept defeat in court. Still though, that’s where Streeterville got its name—named after the highly influential and persistent Streeter who gave it its beginning. 

The economic boom of the 1920s helped turn the wasteland into a highly developed area with dining, retail, luxury accommodations, and more—to the landowners’ pleasure. And after the Michigan Avenue Bridge opened in 1921, it became the city’s most luxurious option for real estate. 

For instance, when Northwestern University’s downtown campus opened in 1924, North Michigan Avenue became a destination for retail and high-end shops, and investors starting building hotels along Lake Shore Drive, many of which still exist today as renowned, luxurious establishments. And more have arrived throughout the years—all as a result of Streeterville.

What’s more, after World War II, a local developer named Arthur Rubloff wanted to make North Michigan Avenue even more affluent and influential. He decided to coin the area as “The Magnificent Mile,” and hoped to create another round of major construction to make it truly magnificent and beautiful. 


Streeterville continues to boast excellent restaurants, hotels, attractions, and shops. In fact, the area has continued to grow, with new hotels and shopping locations opening within the last few years. 

For example, in 2017, Hotel EMC2, a 195-room luxury hotel, opened its doors in Streeterville. The creator of the hotel was inspired by its location, since it resides near Northwestern University’s medical school. As a result, the architect of Hotel EMC2 planned to incorporate the research labs and technology found at Northwestern University’s medical school into the design of the hotel. Inspired by its location, Hotel EMC2 presents itself at the intersection of art and science.

Streeterville is a great area for visitors, residents, and even provides opportunities for education. It has everything you’d ever need in a city! There are notable landmarks, such as the John Hancock Center and Water Tower Place, as well as more modern attractions. The growth is impressive, and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon! 

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