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South Loop

 

Sometimes referred to as Chicago's original Gold Coast, the South Loop is a neighborhood that amazes visitors to Chicago who have not been here since the 1980s.  Though the neighborhood's exact boundaries are up for debate, the area south of Congress Parkway and east of the Chicago River is generally defined as the South Loop. A restrictive designation would comprise River City, the northern section of Dearborn Park, and parts of State Street, Wabash Avenue, and Michigan Avenue; while a more liberal definition would consist of the Central Station development, Dearborn Park II, the Prairie District, and perhaps even Chinatown.

 

Undeveloped for the greater part of the 20th century, the 1990s brought an influx of new homes, in part because of the area's proximity to the Loop as well as to the lakefront and Grant Park. In response to the development boom, eateries and retailers sprung up, bringing with them a thriving nightlife. Restaurants of note include Italian hot spot Gioco and Latin American Zapatista. In terms of night spots, the South Loop offers a wide variety of experiences, from the M Lounge, a martini lounge with a jazz focus, to Kitty O'Shea's, an authentic Irish pub tucked inside the Chicago Hilton and Towers. Rife with young artists attracted by Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute, the area is also appealing to tourists and families who are attracted to the world famous Field Museum as well as the Shedd Aquarium.

 

Increasingly popular, the South Loop features loft conversions on Printers Row, high-rises at Central Station, and luxurious new construction buildings and townhouses everywhere in between. Renovation is key in the area, with factories and warehouses having been transformed into condominiums, lofts and spacious apartments. New construction is also integral to the South Loop's growth. With prices ranging from $200,000 to well over $1 million, an amazing array of townhomes, high-rises, single-family homes, and mid-rises have revitalized this neighborhood.