South Loop is the neighborhood situated south of Congress Parkway. It encompasses the area between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, with the exception of Chinatown. No official boundary distinction exists, and residents’ perception of the neighborhood’s boundaries have changed over time. Today, the name “South Loop” is used to refer to locations all the way to 26th street. Formerly a home to multiple rail yards and train stations, South Loop is now primarily a residential neighborhood.
One of the first residential districts in Chicago, South Loop was initially settled by working-class immigrants. In the 1850s, the development of railroads led to the establishment of freight houses and passenger stations in the area. By the 1900s, railroad tracks filled the neighborhood, and it eventually became home to burlesque theaters, bars and brothels. In the 1970s, however, local leaders developed plans to make significant changes to the South Loop's atmosphere, thus transforming it to the residential area it is today.
South Loop is primarily a residential neighborhood. Residents of the neighborhood are fairly affluent, and high-rise condominiums and loft conversions are plentiful in the area. The South Loop is also home to Phillips Academy High School, the South Loop School and a selective enrollment prep school known as Jones College Prep High School, which serves students from all over Chicago.
South Loop is home to a number of famous landmarks, including the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. This neighborhood also lays claim to a large portion of Grant Park.