Boystown, Chicago's rainbow neighborhood

The first officially recognized gay village in the United States, Boystown Chicago is the commonly accepted nickname for the eclectic East Lakeview neighborhood that is home to Chicago's visible and active gay and lesbian community.

Rainbow crosswalk rendering (credit: northalsted business alliance)

Boystown is situated just southeast of Wrigleyville in Lakeview. The area is bordered by Broadway Ave. on the east and Halsted St. on the west, Grace St. to the north and Belmont Ave. to the south.

The two main (north-south) avenues of Halsted St. and Broadway dominate the heart of this commercial and entertainment district. Broadway primarily offers a variety of themed shops and restaurants stretching throughout the neighborhood while Halsted caters to a lively nightlife with more than 30 different gay and lesbian bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

The neighborhood is also home to the Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ community center that welcomes over 1000 people per day. Boystown hosts a number of annual events — Chicago Pride Fest, the Chicago Pride Parade and Northalsted Market Days — drawing over one million people to the North Side neighborhood each summer.

Immerse yourself in Boystown Chicago!

Boystown’s Rainbow Pylons

While visiting Boystown Chicago, it won’t take long to notice the 20 rainbow pylons that adorn "Chicago's proudest neighborhood."

The 25-foot-tall pylons were designed and installed by architecture firm DeStefano+Partners as part of a series of streetscape projects under Mayor Richard M. Daley. They were officially dedicated in 1998. It was the first time a city government officially recognized an LGBTQ community.

In 2012, the Legacy Project selected the unique rainbow pylons as the location for the first outdoor museum recognizing the significant world achievements and contributions of LGBTQ people.

As of 2019, the pylons have been enhanced with 40 illuminated bronze plaques dedicated to historically important figures, including Frida Kahlo, Jane Addams, Sally Ride and Alan Turing. The plaques are mounted with stainless steel frames on the sidewalk-facing sides of each pylon and is known as the Legacy Walk, the world's only outdoor museum dedicated to LGBTQ history.