The South Loop neighborhood encompasses the area south of Congress Parkway, between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Southern boundaries have changed over the years, but the neighborhood extends as far south as 26th street, but does not include Chinatown.
Population (2010) Total 97,362
The South Loop neighborhood has undergone enormous changes since its origins as the home of Chicago’s vice districts. Thanks to its proximity to the Dearborn Station where shipments of paper would arrive, the area evolved into the epicenter of the Midwest’s printing industry up until the 1960s.
Today, the former printing factories and railyards have been redeveloped into residential buildings — including the highly-sought after Printing House Row Historic District, which makes use of historically significant buildings from Chicago’s printing heyday.
Over the years, vacant and underused land in the South Loop has been developed into townhouses and high rise residential spaces, as well as an expanding business district. With the influx of new residents and college students from universities like Columbia College Chicago, the neighborhood has seen enormous population growth since 2000. While the community is more populated and diverse than ever before, it maintains a mellow but engaging atmosphere.
The South Loop is easily walkable, and its location makes it convenient for reaching other parts of the city and the wider metropolitan area. The neighborhood has direct access to several expressways including the Eisenhower and Lake Shore Drive.
If walking isn’t an option, taxis, rideshares, and Divvy bike share stations are abundant throughout the neighborhood. Public transportation remains one of the most widely-used methods of getting around the neighborhood, with dozens of Chicago Transit Authority bus routes for both commuting and weekend rides, as well as easy access to the Green, Orange, Red, and Blue “L” lines.
Both major Chicago airports can be reached by highway and public transportation. To get to Midway Airport, take the Orange “L” line from the Roosevelt Road station directly to the terminal. The Blue L line will take riders directly to O’Hare International Airport.
There are many public and private pre-k through grade 12 education options for families living in the South Loop.
The South Loop has such a wide variety of attractions and entertainment options, everyone is sure to find something that excites them. The eastern edge of the neighborhood encompasses the lower end of Grant Park, often referred to as “Chicago’s Front Yard”. The park includes more than 300 acres of recreational fields and green space, and plays host to many of the city’s most iconic events and festivals throughout the year. Just a few steps north on Michigan Avenue and visitors will find themselves right at Millenium Park and Maggie Daley Park.
Along that lakefront perimeter of the South Loop is Museum Campus, home to several of Chicago’s most treasured cultural institutions like the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. And for art-lovers, the Art Institute of Chicago is just a few blocks north of the neighborhood.
Northerly Island, a peninsula along the lakefront, serves as both a nature lover’s destination, as well as playing host to an outdoor concert venue.
Chicago is a city that loves food, and the South Loop is no exemption from that reputation. The neighborhood has both independent restaurants and bars and fast-casual chains perfect for quick lunch break eats. Its proximity to Chinatown to the south means world-class authentic Chinese food is just blocks away. Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience, a specific international cuisine, or a quick sandwich to take on a Grant Park picnic, South Loop has something to suit every taste.
Festivals & Parks
Like all Chicago neighborhoods, the South Loop has several Chicago Park District parks with access to engaging year-round programming for kids and adults.
Grant Park hosts a variety of the city’s most famous festivals, including Lollapalooza, Chicago Blues Festival for music lovers, and the Taste of Chicago. The southern end of the Park marks the end of the annual Chicago Marathon.
Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, sits on the eastern edge of the South Loop, just to the south of the Museum Campus.