Monday, May 15, 2023

Chabad South Loop Hosts Evening Dialogue with Holocaust Survivor this Thursday (5/18)

Surviving Auschwitz: An Evening of Dialogue with Mr. Israel Starck

Thursday, May 18th

Doors Open 6:45pm | 7:00pm Program Begins

Central South Loop Location

RSVP here.

Use promo code REMEMBER for earlybird pricing.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Lollapalooza Company (C3) Donates $500K for Pickleball Courts in Grant Park

We noticed a post on Hello South Loop's facebook page about the volley ball courts in Grant Park (south of Balbo and west of Columbus) being torn up.  

A reader posted an old article about what is happening (via Chicago Sun-Times):

Chicago’s pickleball scene is getting another shot in the arm — this time in Grant Park.

The folks behind Lollapalooza are donating $500,000 to the Chicago Park District that will be used to build new pickleball courts and refurbish existing tennis courts in the south end of Grant Park.

The pickleball courts will be designed for only pickleball use. 

One of the major knocks from the city’s growing pickleball scene is that the city is lightyears behind other major cities in building dedicated courts. Most pickleball in Chicago is played on tennis courts, which can create tension between picklers and tennis players.

The news was shared Tuesday in a letter that was emailed to Grant Park-area residents from Charlie Walker, an executive with C3 Presents, the company behind Lollapalooza.

A Park District spokeswoman said six existing tennis courts will be rehabbed and a minimum of eight new dedicated pickleball courts will be built.

I play tennis, but have never played pickleball.  That said, maybe we'll have to check it out.  This is probably a win win for most people - maybe outside of volleyball players.  C3 gets a hard surface to better accommodate their festival (for those in the know - this is usually behind "Perry's Stage" and the city/residents gets an area for recreation game that's getting more and more popular.  

Thursday, April 13, 2023

City and NASCAR Announce Dates of Street Closures Prior to 4th of July Races

The NASCAR Chicago Street Race is undoubtedly going to be a big, unique event for the city - but as expected it likely will be a headache for those of us who live or spend a lot of time in the Sloop.

How much of a headache?  Well the city just released a list of street closures in and around Grant Park and it's going to be much longer than we expected (via Yahoo):

NASCAR's Chicago Street race is slated to take over the city for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but the impacts for drivers will be felt long before and after the race is done.

Officials on Monday detailed a traffic plan, featuring more than a month of rolling closures around the city in the lead-up and tear-down for the first-time event.

Closures will include major roadways like DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Columbus Drive, Jackson Drive, Balbo Drive and Michigan Avenue and are expected to kick off on June 2 and continue through July 15, adding to a long list of traffic disruptions for drivers in the city already battling major construction projects on the Kennedy Expressway and elsewhere.

The biggest interruptions are slated to begin on June 25. (Full list of closures at link)

On top of the closures, officials said they expect roughly 50,000 people to attend each day of the two-day event.

Yikes - a month and a half of street closures will likely be pretty disruptive.  Yes, maybe some of the closures early on are small swaths of streets, but still will be confusing and painful.  

(Hat tip:  Mitch!)

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

20 Years Later After the Close of Meigs Air Field (Now Northerly Island)

Northerly Island is a quiet retreat for us in the Sloop, but many newer residents might not realize it's history.  WBEZ has a good read on how the current concert venue and park became what it is today thanks to a brash move by a mayor:

When the sun came up over Chicago on March 31, 2003, it shone down on six large Xs that were bulldozed overnight into the runway of a small downtown airport.

Under the cover of darkness, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley made it clear who ran the city when he ordered the destruction of Meigs Field on Northerly Island without alerting the City Council, the statehouse or the Federal Aviation Administration. The former airport is now a park, which the mayor had wanted for years.

Daley defended the move the next day by citing safety concerns and told reporters it was a risk to have planes that close to skyscrapers in a post-9/11 world.

The destruction of Meigs was a brash stunt that epitomizes Chicago politics. Simpson equates bulldozing Meigs with similarly “autocratic” schemes greenlit by Daley’s father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, such as ordering police to maintain law and order among protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, resulting in violent clashes.

Twenty years after the overnight destruction at the airport, Simpson and others said the maneuver is fading from collective memory, but it can serve as a reminder of the need to have checks and balances on mayoral power.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Life at Nema (1210 S. Indiana)

We don't live inside the Nema rental building (1210 S. Indiana), but have gawked at it from the outside and recently spent some time in the shinny new Dollop Coffee shop.  We recently stumbled upon a video on Tik Tok and recognized some of the views and deducted that it was a young 20 something, entrepreneur shooting as if he lived on top of the world in the building.  Anyway - if you ever wondered what it was like to live in Nema, maybe his videos can give you an idea:

 (Hat tip: @theibrahimansari)

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?