Chicago Relocation


September 23, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Continuing our talk on the South Loop let’s return to Printer’s Row.  Not only is it probably the most recognized district in South Loop, Printer’s Row has a pretty descriptive and literal name. The few blocks that make up Printer’s Row (Clark/Dearbron, just south of Congress) were home to many of the major printing houses of the 20th century. While things have changed you can still pay homage to it’s roots at the annual book fair (no surprise) each summer.

Need a bite? The famous Hackney’s has a south loop location. Try the inside out cheeseburger (and don’t get burned by the molten cheddar coming out).   I recently found another great eatery hideaway.  My traveling partner and Groupon-girlfriend Gerry and I found a little hole in the wall on Polk.  Appropriately named Polk Street Pub this establishment is located next to a place that would have fit in during South Loop’s “Levee” days.  ‘Nough said.  And their “pastor” burger – well “fogettaboutit” as they say.  Medium rare with blue cheese, bacon, a perfectly poached egg (and I threw on a chorizo finger)…WOW. I walked in the back and personally thanked the cook.

For a top notch cut of beef the place to go is an old rehabbed firehouse, curiously called The Firehouse.  They have some fantastic steaks and great al fresco dining in the summer. Other notable mentions: Giocio, Scout, Waffles Chicago.  There’s really a little bit of everything out here.

One of my favorite “secret” places in the South Loop is Chess Records. If you’ve never heard of Chess Records, shame on you :) This nondescript little building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. (also knows as Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven) is where Etta James recorded “At Last,” and was the home base for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor – the royalty of “Chicago Blues.” If these names don’t ring a bell, go directly to iTunes and buy some of their music. NOW.

Chicago had/has an incredible blues scene playing the Chicago Blues – Not to be confused with their southern cousins Memphis Blues, Texas Blues, and of course the Delta Blues.  Chess Records was so influential to twenty-year-old Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that those blues fans actually came here to record “Satisfaction” in June ‘64.  So if the Rolling Stones think the South Loop is cool…then check it out.

For some authentic South Loop blues, visit Buddy Guy’s at Balbo and Wabash.  I ran into Buddy in the bar there once, some years back. A regular guy.  Just havin’ a drink.

And while being uber-urban, it doesn’t mean south loop is not green. Michigan Ave. makes up the east border of the neighborhood so you’re never more than a quick walk to Grant Park, our city’s front yard.  Bike trails, Lake Michigan, Northerly Island, Museum Campus…WOW, I live in a pretty captivating neighborhood.

Not able to check out all this greatness in person?  Turn to Hollywood.  The opening credits to Hill Street Blues and see the old shot of the South Loop cop shop.  And of rouse I have to include The Blues Brothers.  In this classic film John Lee Hooker belts out “Boom Boom” on Maxwell Street which is just a quick walk from the South Loop.  If you head there yourself, bring your money and bargaining skills for sure.

While we’re also talking about Maxwell Street, remember that an HISTORIC event started right around the corner?  Right at 558 W. De Koven St.?   Well, it’s the site of the Chicago Fire Department Training Academy.  What else is that a famous site of? Anyone? Anyone? I’ll give you a hint. Mrs. O’Leary used to live there, her cow lived out back….and one windy hot summer night in 1871 Peg Leg Sullivan came by….. 





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