Thursday, December 20th, 2018
From the postcard perfect Buckingham Fountain to the convention mecca that is McCormick Place; from the main branch of the Chicago Public Library to the Museum Campus; from the Bears to Buddy Guy — all of these make their home in Chicago’s South Loop.
Many Chicagoans, as well, are choosing this neighborhood — or neighborhoods, given the expanding nature of what is defined as the South Loop and its diverse and engaging microcommunities.
What does the South Loop offer its residents (and, frankly, visitors from throughout the city, suburbs, country and world)?
Music: Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island is a brilliant lakefront concert venue that features inspiring skyline views and national acts. Soldier Field books the biggest tours. Buddy Guy’s Legends, on South Wabash, draws stellar blues and jazz artists. On State Street, Reggie’s Rock Club is a perfectly grungy joint for up-and-coming acts, cold beer and great burgers.
Sports: Soldier Field is home to the Bears. Wintrust Arena, next to McCormick Place, hosts DePaul’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, along with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. The White Sox play at 35th Street, basically a warning track fly from the southern border of the South Loop. For participation sports, Grant Park is the premier location in the city for that Chicago original — 16-inch softball (and the 12-inch variety), and the lakefront is filled with joggers, bikers, swimmers and boaters as long as weather permits.
Culture: The Museum Campus features the Field Museum, home to a cast skeleton of the largest dinosaur ever discovered; the John G. Shedd Aquarium, which houses beluga whales; and the Adler Planetarium, the first such facility in the western hemisphere. Then there’s the Harold Washington Library Center, the main branch of the Chicago system, occupying a full city block of State Street from Congress Parkway to Van Buren, housing more than 1 million holdings and open seven days per week.
Food: Chicago cuisine varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, and the South Loop includes or is adjacent to Chinatown, Greek Town, Little Italy and Pilsen, an enclave of Latin culture. Just north of Roosevelt Road on Jefferson Street, don’t forget Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, established in 1942 and arguably Chicago’s best Jewish deli.
Traditionally, the South Loop was loosely defined as the area bordered by Congress Parkway to the north, Roosevelt Road to the south, Grant Park to the east, and the Chicago River to the west. Many now push the southern and western boundaries to I-55 and the Dan Ryan Expressway, respectively. More important are the various communities that have woven themselves into the fabric of the South Loop: Chinatown, the Cultural Mile, Dearborn Park, the Prairie District, Printers Row, River South and the Wabash Corridor.
Here they are in the broad strokes:
Chinatown: The heart of Chicago’s Asian community and an important Chinese business hub in the Midwest, Chinatown bridges the gap between narrower definitions of the South Loop and the White Sox’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
Cultural Mile: This gorgeous, though less celebrated sibling of the Magnificent Mile, is a stretch of Michigan Avenue with breathtaking views of the lake, the Museum Campus and Soldier Field.
Dearborn Park: Notable for quiet, tree-lined streets and a decidedly residential bent.
Prairie District: A historic district that featured the city’s poshest homes in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire, the Prairie District blends landmarked buildings with high-rises and newer townhomes and row houses.
Printers Row: Home to Lit Fest (a great summer book fair) and many landmark buildings, this former printing and publishing hub is among the most intimate areas of the South Loop.
River South: Marked by lots of retail development in the last couple of decades, this area combines urban authenticity with suburban convenience.
Wabash Corridor: Columbia College has kept this South Loop area full of funky, artsy types for decades. Gritty, kinetic and evolving all apply.
The South Loop is full of dramatic and charismatic living spaces, from brick and timber lofts along State Street to the 21st century high-rises near Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue, a Wabash Avenue townhome or a Congress Parkway condo. Regardless, Downtown Apartment Company, with its extensive knowledge of architectural details and personal amenities, is the best resource for finding your perfect place in the bustling and beautiful South Loop.
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