At this point, the South Loop isn’t just up-and-coming, it’s booming.
With historic architecture mixing seamlessly with beautiful new construction, the South Loop has become one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods. In an exceptional location steps from downtown, Grant Park, and Lake Michigan, the neighborhood offers an eclectic artsy vibe and friendly spirit.
It’s also just plain fun! Residents love the area’s great restaurants, shopping, trendy nightlife, and other attractions such as Chicago Bears games. With nearby CTA stops, Metra trains, Lakeshore Drive, and I-90/94, the rest of the city is at your fingertips!
South Loop Neighborhood Guide
Great restaurants, creative businesses, and easy access to major attractions make the South Loop one of Chicago’s most exciting places to live.
Restaurants and Nightlife
The restaurant scene is pure Chicago. Fine dining (including 2 Michelin Star Acadia) and upscale cafes forming a unique blend with casual eateries, delis, and deep-dish joints. Local classics include Bongo Room, a hip brunch spot, Cafe Hoang, offering fresh and authentic Vietnamese, and Cafecito, serving delicious Cuban sandwiches.
South Loop nightlife includes great bars and pubs such as Kasey’s, the second oldest pub in Chicago. Music lovers have much to enjoy with staples like Buddy Guy’s Legends for live blues and Reggie’s for local and touring rock bands. Great local shopping is also available and the area is only a short distance from the Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s premier shopping district.
Living in the South Loop puts some of Chicago’s biggest attractions only steps away. Museum Campus is at the neighborhood’s eastern edge, including treasures like the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium. The campus is also home to historic Soldier Field, home of the beloved Chicago Bears.
Grant Park, known as a “Chicago’s Front Yard” to locals, offers nearly 400 acres of beautiful parkland with breathtaking views of the skyline and Lake Michigan. The park is home to a full schedule of fairs and events, including the famous Taste of Chicago and the now 4-day Lollapalooza Music Festival. Not just for big events, the park is perfect for quiet days of picnicking, walking the dog, or reading.
Despite living in the heart of Chicago, residents have access to plenty of nature. On the shores of Lake Michigan, joggers and bicyclists love the miles-long Lakefront Trail. Northerly Island, once home to Meigs Field airstrip, is now dedicated to nature, with beautiful grasslands and strolling paths. At the northern point of the island, the Huntington Bank Pavilion is a great place to see summer concerts.
Other parks include Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, and Roosevelt Park offering great amenities including a public pool, equipped fieldhouses, and plenty of natural areas and trails. Nature Lovers, the South Loop has you covered!
South Loop History
Once home to the steel mills and railyards transforming the nation, the South Loop was one of Chicago’s first residential areas. Home to raucous saloons serving the local workers, the neighborhood was known for its sleazy underbelly.
Spared from the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the neighborhood was devastated by another large fire in 1874. The neighborhood became less residential, taking on an industrial and business character. Big-business moved in, including the printing industry and the early automobile industry. Many of the historic structures built in this epoch are still standing, including the Romanesque Glessner House, today a museum.
In the mid-20th century, hard times came to the area. With the growth of highway systems and the decline of the printing industry, many businesses closed or left the neighborhood, leaving railyards vacant, buildings abandoned, and storefronts empty. Into the 1990s, much of the South Loop remained derelict, a collection of abandoned rail yards, warehouses, and parking lots. One consistent bright spot, however, has been the presence of several colleges and universities, including Columbia College Chicago.
South Loop Today
Perhaps of all the Chicago neighborhoods revitalized in recent years, the South Loop has had the most remarkable turnaround. The rundown state of the neighborhood was curious given its prime location and slowly developers began to see promise in the area. Major projects were mounted, such as the conversion of rail yards into housing, the restoration and conversion of Dearborn Station into retail/office space, and the conversion of Printers’ Row into modern lofts. These initial projects have exploded into a boom. Today, South Loop residents are used to the presence of cranes and hardhats.
South Loop Homes
With modern housing options including newly built apartments with unbeatable views, renovated condominiums, and historic loft conversions, in addition to single-family homes, townhomes, and mid-rises, the area has great options for any price range. With top Chicago attractions, great shopping and dining, and eclectic energy, it’s no surprise that the South Loop has become a true Chicago hotspot!