Looking for Chicago Avenue hotspots?

Free wireless Internet access is spreading along Chicago Avenue.

The ChiFi network blankets the Eckhart Park area between Ashland Avenue and Throop Street. But businesses across Ashland are web hotspots as well, including Alcala's Western Wear at Hermitage and Columbia Furniture at Hoyne.

Buildings with small rooftop installations extend the network. The West Town Special Service Area business district plans to add more rooftop gateways across Chicago Avenue from Halsted Street to California Avenue, and eventually along Damen, Milwaukee and Ogden avenues as well.

Computer users access one of the network locations, labeled ChiFi 1 to ChiFi 9. They're then directed to a gateway website to for a new password every month, said program manager Matthew Westfallen.

Getting access was a simple matter on a spring visit to OnShore Networks, 1407 W. Chicago Ave. OnShore installs web networks in apartment and condo buildings across the city, said the firm's Matthew Lechleider.

Businesses who agree to be hotspots, or neighbors curious about the service, can call (312) 850-9390 or visit westtownssa29.org.
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