Boystown is the popular name of a district within Chicago, Illinois. Situated within the neighborhood of Lakeview, it was the first officially recognized gay village in the United States, as well as the cultural center of one of the largest lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) communities in the nation. Boystown has grown into a cultural center for the nearly 800,000 LGBT residents estimated to live within the Chicago metropolitan area today.
The sector's informal boundaries are Addison Street to the north, Lake Michigan to the east, Diversey Parkway to the south, and Sheffield Avenue to the west, the main junction being the intersections of Halsted Avenue, and Belmont and Clark Streets. Boystown lies just south of the Wrigleyville area, another district within the Lakeview neighborhood. Boystown has carved a niche all its own within the urban fabric of Chicago proper. The Center on Halsted, a LGBT community center, is also located on Halsted Avenue.
Boystown is known for its colorful nightlife and inviting atmosphere. Bars in Boystown close at 3am weekdays and many are open until 5am on weekends. Boystown also consists of trendy fashion outlets, Chicago's "Off-Loop" theater district, historic architecture, wine boutiques, specialty restaurants, and shops, many of these businesses lying on Halsted, Belmont, Clark, and Broadway. The city's annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade runs from Belmont and Halsted north on Halsted Street, then south along Broadway down to Diversey, and then finally east on Diversey to Lincoln Park, along the lakefront.
Public transportation is provided by the Belmont and Addison stations on the Red Line, and by Brown Line as well as numerous bus routes and taxicabs.
North Halsted Street is the main street of this bustling district. It sports Chicago's highest concentration of LGBT-friendly establishmentsâ€”-an eclectic mix of bars, coffeehouses, and restaurants in accord with the equally eclectic population of local hipsters and open-minded progressives. City planners have designated North Halsted an official pedestrian and bike route following a 1998 community project that resulted in the erection of 11 pairs of rainbow-colored abstract Art Deco pylons along the strip. Coupled with the ever-present rainbow flag that is posted upon nearly every business entrance on the Halsted strip, these pillars also denote the many respectable gay-owned and operated venues that have become hotspots for residents and visitors to Boystown.
City politicians are generally accepting of the community's identity. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's agreed to endorse and host the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. Chicago's openly gay aldermanâ€”Thomas M. Tunneyâ€”represents the 44th Ward area on the Chicago City Council.