More often than not, friends and family suggested neighborhoods on the North side of the city. Most suggested areas where they lived in the past or were currently living. They made convincing arguments and had glowing things to say about their idea of "Chicago's best neighborhood." I was then and continue to be impressed by the loyalty Chicagoans have for their 'hoods.
For a variety of reasons - convenience being one of them - we settled on the South side. If our family and friends were disappointed, they kept their opinions to themselves. The area seemed a perfect fit when we found our place in the South Loop.
In the short time we've been here, I've developed my own fierce case of loyalty for the South Loop. There are million reasons to love this neighborhood. And although, I have nothing to compare it to, and have been here less than year (how's that for expertise?) I'm convinced it is "Chicago's best neighborhood."
Here are 5 of the one million reasons:
The day we spent apartment hunting, we made plans to meet our realtor in a neighborhood on the North side - that will remain nameless. We drove around for 20 minutes just trying to find a place to park so that we could look at the apartment.
During this process we looked at each other and said, "Do we really want to do this every day?" The answer was a resounding, "NO."
Not only do we have a parking spot (in a garage) that is included with our apartment, there is available street parking on our block. I can count on one hand the times we've had to drive around the block more than once or park more than a block from our building. In the South Loop, parking is a possibility.
When I imagined living in Chicago, I pictured sky scrapers and the hustle and bustle of one of America's biggest, most vibrant cities. I wanted to live Downtown. I wanted to be in the Loop (even though I wasn't completely sure what the Loop was...)
The hubby, on the other hand, was reticent. He wasn't sure about living an urban lifestyle and worried it might be too loud, too crowded, and too busy.
The South Loop has been a perfect compromise. Where we are, it is relatively quiet. However, we are two blocks from Michigan Ave. There are sky scrapers all around us and we are a very, very short bus ride from the center of the Loop. This neighborhood still feels like Downtown Chicago.
The Lake Front Path
There's a rumor that the path down here is dirty and dangerous. It has a bad reputation. The last thing I want to do is dispel that rumor. Its existence means there are far fewer people running, biking and crowding the path along Lake Michigan.
So, if you're reading this and you stay away from the Lakefront path below the Museum campus because you fear it's dirty and dangerous, you are right. It's bad down here. You should definitely continue to run with 10,000 of your closest friends up on the North side.
Being so close to Millennium Park has been one of the best features of living in the South Loop. Since we live in an apartment, it's kind of become our back yard. And let me tell you, we have a yard that regularly hosts some world class cultural events.
Just last night we had the pleasure of watching a simulcast of the Paris Opera Ballet performing Giselle at the Harris Theater. It was the first event of its kind in the United States. And it was two miles from our house. Just one short bus ride away.
Further Justification for Rooting for the Sox
I've written before about my Chicago baseball allegiance. It's convenient to be in the shadow of U.S. Cellular if we're going to root for the White Sox. Plus, it's just a bonus to enjoy the Stadium's fireworks from our balcony after weekend games.
In a few years I wonder if the South Loop will be completely crowded and congested. I wonder if everyone will discover how amazing it is to live in this neighborhood? If they do, I'll be able to point to this post and cackle, "I've been saying that all along. What took you so long to figure it out?"
Tell me something you love about YOUR neighborhood.