Friday, March 24, 2023

We Love Dearborn Station - So Here is a brief part of it's Origin and History

Chicago's Dearborn Station is a historic transportation hub that has played a significant role in the city's history and development. Built in 1885, it was the first railway station in Chicago to serve multiple rail lines. Over the years, the station has been home to numerous railroad companies and played a crucial role in the growth of the South Loop neighborhood.

The Beginnings of Dearborn Station

The idea for Dearborn Station came from the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, which was looking for a way to consolidate its passenger operations in the city. At the time, the railroad had several different terminals scattered throughout Chicago, which made it difficult to manage and inefficient for passengers. The company decided to build a new, centralized station that would allow it to streamline its operations and provide a better experience for passengers.

In 1881, the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad purchased a site on Dearborn Street between Polk and Taylor. The site was chosen because it was located near the heart of the city and was easily accessible by both rail and streetcar. The station was designed by Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, a prominent New York architect who was known for his work on train stations and other public buildings.

Construction on the station began in 1883 and was completed two years later. The building was an impressive structure that featured a central clock tower, a large waiting room, and multiple platforms for trains. The station was also unique because it served several different rail lines, including the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, the Michigan Central Railroad, and the Wabash Railroad.

Impact on the South Loop Neighborhood

The construction of Dearborn Station had a significant impact on the South Loop neighborhood. Prior to the station's construction, the area was largely residential, with a few factories and warehouses scattered throughout. However, the station brought new businesses and commerce to the area, including hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. The station also served as a gateway to the city for many travelers, which helped to boost the local economy.

The station also played a crucial role in the development of Chicago's transportation network. The station's central location and access to multiple rail lines made it a key transportation hub for the city. It allowed passengers to easily transfer between different rail lines and made it easier for goods to be transported throughout the city and beyond.

Throughout the years, Dearborn Station continued to evolve and change. In the early 1900s, the station was expanded and renovated to accommodate more passengers and trains. However, as air travel became more popular in the mid-20th century, the station's importance began to decline. In 1971, the station was closed and its operations were consolidated with other rail yards in the city.

Today, Dearborn Station still stands as a reminder of Chicago's rich history and its importance in the development of the city's transportation network. While the station is no longer used for its original purpose, it has been repurposed for other uses, including retail stores, restaurants, and offices.  

For example, UChicago Medicine has an urgent care facility located at Dearborn Station for convenient same-day care for the entire family. The American Montessori Academy South Loop also has a location at Dearborn Station offering year-round programs for children aged 8 weeks to 9 years old.  The popular Jazz Showcase is also located in Dearborn station and so is Bar Louie.

It is one of our favorite buildings in the neighborhood and a unique monument to the history of the neighborhood.  One of our favorite prints is this one:

You can find that at the following etsy site if you want to buy one for your place.

Dearborn Station is an important part of Chicago's history and has had a significant impact on the development of the South Loop neighborhood. The station's central location and access to multiple rail lines helped to make it a key transportation hub for the city, and its construction brought new businesses and commerce to the area. While the station's operations have since ceased, it remains an important part of Chicago's architectural and cultural heritage.

Sources for additional reading:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Kdot (Kendrick Lamar) is Coming to Lolla!

Lollapalooza season is officially on us....sorta.

Well at least we know who is going to be gracing Chicago and the Sloop with their presence during the weekend of August 3rd-6th:

While we get older the music doesn't age (maybe with the exception of Red Hot Chili Peppers).  A lot of these acts are new to us, but surprisingly I'm familiar with more than some of the recent lineups.  Like most, we'll be digging in over the spring/summer to scope out who we're liking.  

Please share acts that you're excited about so we can give them a listen.

While it may be a bit obvious to be excited about the the top of the list performer, Kendrick Lamar is a unique voice in hip hop and continues to push the envelope.  This is one of the best still doing his thing and arguably in his prime - so should be a recipe for a great festival show.

We asked for some help from our favorite AI friend to give us the latest on Kendrick Lamar's latest album for those who may not know:

Kendrick Lamar's newest album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers has been received positively by critics. According to NME, it is a "cathartic, soul-baring autobiography". The album sees Lamar overcome "writer's block" to triumph with a collection on which his observational skills go into overdrive.

The album has been praised for its differences from previous albums. According to Pitchfork, "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" is a thorny double album featuring everyone from Kodak Black to Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. It also explores vulnerability, the challenges of newfound fatherhood and his marriage.

We've heard the album compared to a therapy session and judging by this video from the album we can see why:

Poignant video and song...and Helen Mirren! Lolla 2023 - yay!

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Next Phase of Sloopin

Hi fellow Sloopers!  

Long time no talk - we've taken a bit of a hiatus to think through some aspects of this site and what the future could be.  Apologies for the abruptness of this stop.

I don't have much to reveal today, but the plan is to restart posting a bit more often.  There is a lot of great content about our neighborhood and city being put out into the world and we hope we can be a portal into the vastness of the interwebs helping you all sift through the noise.

An ask to you or anyone who you might know.  There is an underlying idea we have for local media, news and information.  We haven't nailed it down yet, but if you like to write, take pictures, record videos, do tech wizardry, help with startup ideas or have cash you're looking to invest, please reach out to  If you're a South Loop business looking to continue to foster a relationship with the neighborhood also reach out.

For this idea to blossom, the reality is I'm going to need some help from our community - the great people of the South Loop who I call neighbors.  

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Checkout Chicagohenge 2023 Starting Tomorrow

Twice a year, during the spring and fall equinoxes, the rising and setting sun lines up with Chicago’s east-west street grid, creating spectacular photo opportunities as the sun is framed within Chicago’s skyline. The spring equinox is Monday.

Take a look to the west shortly before sunset, according to Michelle Nichols, master educator for the Adler Planetarium. The effect is visible for about the week before and after the equinox. And if you miss it, wait another six months for the next one. The fall equinox happens Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.

Where is the best place to see it?
The city’s rigid east-west grid pattern means that just about any east-west street works, but a street without many obstructions would be best. Skyscrapers in the Loop will offer some of the choicest framing opportunities.

The article gives a great overview of why this phenomenon exists and why people call it Chicagohenge (...stonehenge in the UK).  

So head out to the streets at sunrise or sunset and check it out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Slick Promotional Video Envisions a New Soldier Field and Surrounding Area

 The video says a lot:

It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of shiny new things, but the reality is this seems extremely unlikely on many fronts.

The Chicago Tribune Editorial board probably summed it up best with their headline "A fantasy Soldier Field video brightened a gray January weekend. Don’t be fooled."  It's a good read and this statement probably sums it up best:
The video features Bill Kurtis, the city’s most respected baritone booster, coaxing us to live up to our potential. “Chicago,” it begins, seductively, “the model of a world-class city.”

Whenever you hear the adjective “world-class” (or anyone quoting Daniel Burnham) in a proposal, watch your wallets and purses. And know that anyone using the phrase is about to argue that “world-class” (whatever that means) might just go away without whatever megaproject they are hyping.

There are a lot of great points in the piece - including some interesting nuggets about the Bears move to Arlington Heights potentially running into some snags.

Look - the idea of Soldier Field being revamped is great on paper (or in a video) - but the chance of this happening seems less than 1% (and that's generous).

Monday, January 2, 2023

AI Writes Sloopin Post to Start 2023

It's 2023 - happy new year!  

The first image on Google Images (prompt: south loop chicago neighborhood in 2023)

With each passing year, we hear about new technologies that are going to radically change the world.  AI has long been one of those technologies and towards the late part of 2022, ChapGPT was getting a ton of attention for its writing potential.

So we thought we would check to see if the robots could take over our Sloopin.  

After quickly writing the following prompt:

Write a blog post of what readers should do in the South Loop of Chicago in 2023

The AI quickly did its thing and wrote this out for us:

If you're planning a visit to the South Loop of Chicago in 2023, you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of things to see and do in this vibrant neighborhood. From cultural institutions to outdoor activities to dining and nightlife, there's something for everyone. Here are a few suggestions for what to do in the South Loop: 
  • Visit a museum: The South Loop is home to many cultural institutions, including the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Take some time to explore the exhibits and learn about art, science, and history. 
  • Hit the Lakefront Trail: The South Loop is surrounded by green space, including the Lakefront Trail, which stretches for miles along the shores of Lake Michigan. Take a bike ride, run, or walk along the trail and enjoy the beautiful views. 
  • Shop till you drop: The South Loop is home to many shopping destinations, including the popular Roosevelt Collection and the State Street corridor. Browse the stores and boutiques and find something special to take home with you. 
  • Dine out: The South Loop is known for its vibrant dining scene, with a wide range of restaurants offering everything from casual bites to fine dining. Sample the local cuisine and discover new favorite spots. 
  • Enjoy a night out: The South Loop is also home to many bars and clubs, making it a great destination for a night out. Whether you prefer craft cocktails or live music, you'll find something to suit your taste. 
Overall, there are so many things to do in the South Loop of Chicago in 2023. Whether you're interested in culture, outdoor activities, shopping, dining, or nightlife, you'll find plenty of options to keep you busy.

At a broad level - not bad suggestions, but also not very specific.  For instance, where would the AI recommend we eat out?

So we following up with:
where should I dine out in the South Loop of Chicago in 2023


The South Loop of Chicago is home to a wide range of dining options, so you'll be able to find something to suit your taste and budget. Here are a few highly rated restaurants to consider: 
  • The Gage: This upscale gastropub serves classic American fare with a twist, using locally sourced ingredients. It's known for its extensive craft beer selection and lively atmosphere. 
  • MFK: This trendy seafood spot is known for its oysters, ceviche, and other raw bar offerings, as well as its creative cocktails. The industrial chic decor adds to the atmosphere. 
  • La Sirena Clandestina: This colorful Brazilian-inspired restaurant is known for its delicious grilled meats and vibrant cocktails. The cozy, laid-back atmosphere makes it a great spot for a casual dinner with friends. 
  • The Dawson: This chic bar and restaurant is known for its artisanal cocktails and modern American fare, including small plates, sandwiches, and entrees. The loft-like space is stylish and lively. 
  • Han 202: This popular Korean barbecue spot is known for its high-quality meats and wide selection of sides and banchan (small side dishes). The fun, interactive dining experience is a hit with meat lovers. 
These are just a few examples of the many excellent restaurants in the South Loop of Chicago. Whether you're in the mood for casual or fine dining, you'll find plenty of options to suit your taste. It's always a good idea to do some research and read reviews before choosing a restaurant, to help ensure that you have a great dining experience.

While some of these restaurants aren't far from the Sloop, none of them are actually in the neighborhood (by our definition).

So while this tech seems promising, it still has a ways to go in my opinion.  What do you think?  Should we just let ChatGPT run this blog from now on?

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Two South Loop Locations Approved for Marijuana Dispensaries

(It's been awhile - sorry about that folks!)

We're coming to you with some interesting developments on the Sloop marijuana front.  We recently read about two new spots in the neighborhood where dispensaries are opening (via Tribune):

The board also approved a permit to Rickey Hendon, a former alderman and state representative, and his children to open a Green Rose dispensary in the South Loop, at 1233 S. Wabash Ave., and a dispensary by High Hopes Chicago at 622-24 W. Roosevelt Road.

The spot at 1233 s. Wabash is a pretty prominent location and is where the long vacated bar - Wabash Tap - once sat (closed in 2019).  The bar at one point said they were going to "reinvent".  That clearly didn't happen, but we guess a Marijuana Dispensary is a reinvention (although likely different owner?):

While numerous South Loop locations have been rumored and discussed for a dispensary, not much has materialized.  

We will see what else materializes, but if you're into the pot you may not have to leave the neighborhood soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The Best Living the Sloop Has to Offer & Only for $5.9M

We took a break from Sloping, but apparently we just needed a $5.9M urban house to make us draft up a post (747 S. Dearborn listing).  This has to be the most amazing residential space in the Sloop, if you've seen a better one let us know.

(Hat tip: TC!)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Friday, September 30, 2022

Cafe Bionda Opens Under New Restaurant Group and Looks Fantastic

Same spot, but new restaurant group.  Judging by the pictures in this post - looks like we're going to have to check it out (via InsideHook):
Cafe Bionda
South Loop

You’re here because: You were crushed when they announced their closure during the pandemic.

You’re dining on: Cafe Bionda is back with a new restaurant group, refreshed space and an Italian chef. Classics like sausage and peppers, brick chicken and cavatelli al forno grace the menu, while newcomers include caprese burrata and housemade short rib ravioli topped with a red wine demi-glace. The warm, candlelit dining room is the perfect place to enjoy an autumnal, carb-heavy meal with a glass or two of wine from the Italian-focused wine list.

1924 S. State St.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Monday, September 19, 2022

A Weekend of Partying Until 2am and a Homicide Down the Street

We live by Roosevelt and State, and this weekend was a brutal one for our young family.  

While we're all for celebrations, the rowdy scenes for Mexican Independence Day went well past 2am on Saturday morning with loud music, squealing tires and fireworks booming overhead.  While this is a nuisance and maybe makes it hard for us to sleep for one night - we can put up with it.  Sure, it's probably illegal on many fronts but it's the cost for living in a vibrant (?), diverse city.

That said, as we woke up and rode bikes to Grant Park on Saturday morning to a park district lesson for our young son, it's unfortunate to see trash littered all over ever street and sidewalk.  It's also strange  explaining why there was a burnt out car on Roosevelt sitting at a major intersection like it wasn't unusual.  Nothing to see hear - just a lovely Saturday morning in the Sloop!

Our life went on - but it was a strange morning bike ride.

Then we woke up Sunday morning to see the headlines that a man was murdered in front of South Loop Elementary just outside the playground.  This one hits really close to home for us and seems to encapsulate why many people simple don't want to live in Chicago (via CBW Chicago):
Chicago police said a man was fatally shot while standing with a large group of people outside South Loop Elementary School overnight. The people he was with all ran away after the shooting, and police still don’t know who he is. 

It happened around 12:46 a.m. Sunday in the 1200 block of South Plymouth. Chicago police said the man, who appeared to be in his mid-20s or early 30s, suffered gunshot wounds to his face and chest and was pronounced dead at the scene.
We love riding our bikes to the lake, having dinner on the sidewalks of our neighborhood, having our son walk to school and doing so many other things the Sloop (and city) has to offer.  If you know me, i'm one of the biggest boosters of "city living" - after all i've been writing this blog since 2008!

But on this Monday, I write to say this is tough.  I don't have the answers on how to make things better, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to call Chicago home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Person of Interest Being Questioned in Groping Incidents Around the Neighborhood

Hoping this guy is caught (from CBS2):

Chicago Police Saturday were questioning a person of interest in a series of groping incidents in the city's Loop and South Loop.

Police say a man on a one-wheeled motorized skateboard assaulted at least two women and then rode off.

CBS 2 spoke with two other women who say they were also assaulted.

These are just a few of the people who have come forward. Many others have posted about their experiences online, and they fear that if this person is not detained there could be many more.

The incidents documented by Chicago Police occurred on the morning of Aug. 6 in the 1100 block of South State Street and June 1 in the 400 block of West Lake Street around the same time of day.