Chicago’s West Loop can look a bit like a war zone in the right light these days. Lots of demolition going on. I often say, the West Loop is about as New York as Chicago gets. I call it my home and it’s where I’ve had my studio for the last ten years. I feel very comfortable here.
I’ve lived in the Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park neighborhoods in the 15 years prior to that, both of which had their perks, but I never really feel like I belonged, like I do in the West Loop. For the most part, even after Oprah moved in decades ago and things began to be less like skid-row, which it was for many years along Madison, it’s been the meat-packing district. We all just shared the space with the frenetic whirling dervish dances of the fork-lifts that would run you down after 3am if you were staggering home with a buzz.
Make no mistake, it’s very much still the meat-packing district, at least from 3am to 9am. But it almost becomes a different world the rest of the day. It’s now home to some of the most innovative design and production studios in the city. And in the evening along Randolph, what used to be a smattering of restaurants, like the pioneering Vivo and Marché, is now the new center of every food experience you can imagine. And Vivo is still kicking.
With Google getting ready to move into the old Cold Storage Building on Fulton Market and the Chinese-owned Sterling Bay snapping up buildings and property like Junior Mints, it’s hard to say how the neighborhood will feel in five or ten years. Change is inevitable in a big city neighborhood like this.
The demolition continues.