Dearborn Station at the end of Printers row, in the South Loop Printing House District, is the oldest train station still standing in Chicago; it has been converted to retail and office space. Most of the area south of Congress Parkway and east of the Chicago River, excepting Printer’s Row, is referred to as the South Loop. The southern boundary of the neighborhood is under debate. While the southern boundary for the community area is Roosevelt Road, the term “South Loop” is often used to describe an area that extends as far south as 18th Street or Cermak Road. Numerous shops south of Roosevelt Road with “South Loop” in their name hint that this more generous definition may be gaining recognition.
The more restrictively-defined area includes River City, the northern half of Dearborn Park, and portions of State Street, Wabash Avenue, and Michigan Avenue. The more generous definitions would include the Central Station development, Dearborn Park II, the Prairie District, and even the northern growth of Chinatown.
The major landowner in the South Loop is Columbia College Chicago, a private school that owns 17 buildings. Also to be found here is the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, championed by Mayor Daley.
Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park
South Loop is zoned to the following Chicago Schools: South Loop School and Phillips Academy High School. Jones College Prep High School, which is a selective enrollment prep school drawing students from the entire city, is also located in the South Loop.
The South Loop was historically home to vice districts, including the brothels, bars, burlesque theaters, and arcades. Inexpensive residential hotels on Van Buren and State Street made it one of the city’s Skid Rows until the 1970s. One of the largest homeless shelters in the city, the Pacific Garden Mission, was located at State and Balbo from 1923 to 2007. The new location is further south and across the Chicago River, at 1458 S. Canal St.