Posted by: newwestrealty | January 27, 2009

The Historical South Loop


ChicagoTribune - Riding high above the crowded streets, a Chicago fixture makes its debut. The "Loop" came to refer not only to the downtown elevated structure but also to the central business district. (Photo Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Society)

1555 Wabash resides in Chicago’s South Loop.  As many may already know “The Loop” refers to the area bound by public transportation along Lake Street, Wabash, Van Buren and Wells or the general business district of Chicago. The South Loop is a sub-neighborhood of the Chicago Loop and refers to the area south of Congress Parkway and east of the Chicago River.

The South Loop was one of Chicago’s first residential districts. By 1900, railroad tracks filled the area from State Street to Clinton Street, serving freight depots and passenger stations—Central, Dearborn, LaSalle Street, and Grand Central—that marked the southern edge of the central business district. Recent redevelopment has again transformed the South Loop into a residential neighborhood.

The Great Chicago Fire, in 1871, was good to the South Loop, leaving it relatively untouched and even driving businesses south of Harrison while the remainder of The Loop was rebuilt. European immigrants came seeking jobs in the rail yards. Apartments and hotels sprang up to house visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

And the city’s wealthiest citizens, like Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman, built mansions along the eastern ends of Calumet and Prairie Avenues. A few still stand in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, most notably the Glessner House at 1800 S. Prairie. Built for manufacturing entrepreneur, John Jacob Glessner, in architect H. H. Richardson’s signature Romanesque style.

The decline of passenger trains left the rail yards vacant, while changes in the printing industry had emptied out Printers’ Row (an area of Chicago known for the success of its printing). The 1973 Chicago 21 Plan (a 1970s urban renewal plan for the city of Chicago) called for construction in the South Loop to reflect a more urban atmosphere. The result, after many years of fund-raising, political wrangling, and trips back to the drawing board, was Dearborn Park, a planned community on 51 acres of former rail yards. Bears owner George “Papa Bear” Halas had it earmarked for a new stadium until the Dearborn Park planners wrestled them away. Construction on the development wasn’t complete until the mid-90s, but the first residents moved into town homes and high-rises and terraced mid-rise buildings in 1979.

In 1977 Columbia College purchased the first of more than a dozen South Loop buildings it now owns. The first high-rise south of Roosevelt went up at 1212 S. Michigan in 1982.

In the early 80s the neighborhood struggled to define itself, with what’s now the South Loop Planning Board, making a push to rename it Burnham Park, believing that “South Loop” bore the lasting stigma of the slums. However, South Loop residents, wrote in a 1985 letter to the Reader, “are proud to be ‘urban pioneers’ and object to a suburban-style name. . . . ‘

The area has been steadily increasing in popularity, driven by its close proximity to the Loop, lakefront, Soldier Field and Grant Park. South Loop’s neighborhood is an easy walk to Michigan Avenue and LaSalle Street.

Chicago’s Museum Campus, with the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, is the cultural attraction of the neighborhood. The beautiful campus, surrounded by Lake Michigan, creates wonderful opportunities for culture and education all year long.



  1. I would say the South Loop is the new place to be. I know tons of people who have recently moved there.

  2. I love living in the south loop, and walk past where 1555 Wabash often. It looks like it’s going to be an amazing place to live.

  3. […] 1555 Wabash today. You will have the opportunity of seeing for yourself what all the hype about the South Loop is about and the oppurtunity to own one of  New West Realty’s newly constructed, downtown condos […]

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