The only time you may have set foot in this teeny Near South Side enclave is during its summer Lit Fest. But look again: It’s full of charming brick buildings steps from Grant Park, any number of el and bus stops, several bars and restaurants (First Draft for game watching, Flaco’s Tacos for quick Mexican, and Umai for sushi), and, of course, bookstores. “People seem to know each other or at least recognize each other here,” says author Beth Finke, who has lived in the area since 2003. Even though she is blind, she says she feels “safe out and about.” There aren’t any elementary schools within neighborhood boundaries, but kids who live here attend the highly ranked South Loop Elementary.
If you’re looking for a funky starter-home loft space for a competitive price, check out Dearborn between Harrison and Polk. (Two-bedroom condos start around $235,000, but cheaper options are findable.) Coming soon: new developments, including proposed microapartments near Dearborn Station, which will likely attract more retail options. “Part of its charm is that you can still get the vibe of how it was back in the printing press days from the old buildings,” says resident Heather McClean, 40, who bought her condo in 2003 and works in not-for-profit fundraising. “But I’m happy the neighborhood is getting more restaurants like Sociale [a tapas bar with a rustic-meets-industrial vibe].”