Doing Business in Downtown Evanston
Downtown Evanston is the commercial center for Chicago’s North Shore, with one-of-a kind shops, a diverse mix of restaurants, first-class office space, and luxury condominiums. The area has experienced unprecedented development and redevelopment within the last two decades. Many projects have included both residential and retail components, resulting in the construction of more than 4,300 condo units since 2000, and over 500 rental units.

Even in the wake of the pandemic, the downtown remains a vital and vibrant workforce center, employing thousands of people and supporting hundreds of businesses. Evanston is proud to be the World Headquarters of Rotary International, and the Downtown is also home to Accuity, Acquirent, ZS Associates, Magnetar Capital, UL Research Institutes, UL Standards & Engagement, and other major companies. In addition, Evanston Labs is a new private Class-A office & laboratory building opening in summer 2024. 

Easily accessible via the CTA's Purple Line and Metra's UP-North Line, many daily commuters use these transit systems as their primary form of transportation to and from their work in Evanston and the surrounding communities. Downtown is adjacent to the Northwestern University campus, and offers easy access to the beaches and trails along Lake Michigan. Downtown is also conveniently located just 40 minutes from O’hare International Airport and 60 minutes from Midway International Airport, making Evanston attractive to regional and international travelers.

Business owners are served and support by the Downtown Evanston SSA (Special Service Area), which manages, markets and maintains the central business district, operating as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization. In addition, the City of Evanston’s Economic Development team has created an economic development work plan that focuses on creative placemaking, entrepreneurship development, and growth oriented startups, as well as retail attraction and retention. These two entities work closely together on a routine basis to ensure that Downtown Evanston provides the infrastructure and economic environment that local businesses need to succeed.

Visit to learn more.

  • Current on street parking spaces in the downtown area is about 1200.
  • There are four public use parking lots downtown including underneath the Chase Bank (Orrington/Davis), 500 Davis St., Benson/Clark and the Rotary Building.
  • There are 3300 parking spaces in the three City-owned parking decks.
  • Per hour meter rates in the CBD is $2 per hour with some 30 minute meters scattered throughout.
  • There are long term meters for commuters and employees at $.50 for 1 hour (12 hr. max). Click here to view a map of parking zones.
  • The new parking box technology allows for payment with coin, credit card and by mobile app from Passport Parking. 

Northwestern University
  • 12 schools and colleges
  • 21,000 total enrollment
  • 8,000 Full-time undergrad
  • 8,000 Full-time graduate
  • 6,000+ Full-time staff
  • 3,820 Full-time Faculty

Medical Facilities
  • Evanston Hospital
  • NorthShore University HealthSystem
  • Northwestern Medicine

Cultural and Arts
Evanston boasts one of the largest and most diverse arts communities in the state, among the multitude of galleries, museums, organization and live theaters. 
  • 12-screen movie theater 
  • Music Institute of Chicago
  • Halim Time & Glass Museum
  • Evanston Public Library
  • Northlight Theatre - coming soon
  • Evanston SPACE
  • Northwestern University Block Museum of Art, Wirtz Center for Performing Arts, and Cahn Auditorium
  • Noyes Cultural Arts Center
  • Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre
  • Evanston Arts Center

Evanston Facts
  • The City of Evanston grew up around Northwestern University and was renamed for physician John Evans in 1857, who was one of Northwestern's founders.
  • Evanston is located 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago, bordered by Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, Wilmette to the north, and Lake Michigan to the east.
  • The current population is about 75,000.
  • The largest Evanston racial/ethnic groups are White (58.4%) followed by Black (16.1%) and Hispanic (11.3%).
  • In 2022, the median household income of Evanston households was $93,188.
  • The median age for Evanston residents is 37.6 years young.