“Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood: South Loop | Chicago News


Another sign that Chicago is returning to normal: conventions are starting to return to the city, including the Chicago Auto Show scheduled for mid-July at the McCormick Place Convention Center in the South Loop.

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Officials say the gigantic event space had an economic impact of $ 1.9 billion on the city before COVID-19, an impact that all but disappeared during the pandemic.

“As people come in, I always say that our goal and role is to organize conventions, trade shows and meetings, so that we can bring people from all over to spend their money. money in Chicago, â€said Larita Clark, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority which oversees McCormick Place. “It will boost the economy of restaurants and hotels, and people will spend their money and create jobs.”

Video: Watch our full interview with Larita Clark.

The convention center is located in the South Loop district on the Near South Side, home to approximately 24,000 Chicagoans, and of course plenty of shopping, dining, and music venues.

As conventions return, 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell says the community is working to be more connected with the convention center, with an additional $ 10 million in funding for street development on the along Motor Row to support foot traffic in businesses there.

She adds that while businesses in this field have performed quite well during the pandemic – and more businesses are underway – the agreements add even more value.

“We’re really excited to have the auto show back, we’re really excited about more attention to Chinatown, Chinatown is coming back. So the real goal is to connect the South Loop, Motor Row, to McCormick Place, as well as ‘in Chinatown and Bronzeville,’ said Dowell.

Video: Watch our full interview with Ald. Pat Dowell.

One of those long-standing businesses here is Reggies, a restaurant and live music and comedy venue in the South Loop.

Owner Robby Glick says that since the city reopened, his customers have come back with a vengeance and he is grateful that this provides work for everyone from waiters to lighting engineers producing live musical performances.

And these are the same people behind the scenes at the Convention Center who make up a large part of its clientele.

“It’s mostly the people who put the shows up and down, so mostly the decorators, riggers, carpenters and Teamsters, who work there who come for their lunch and come back after their gig,†said Glick.

Glick says he typically has around 50 bands a week between his three venues at Reggies, and while they’re not yet at that level, he expects performances to pick up significantly in the fall.

A long-standing business in the South Loop is Reggies, a restaurant and venue for live music and comedy. (WTTW News)

Around the corner from Reggies and just north of Motor Row is what’s known as Record Row, which is home to Chicago’s rich blues history.

The last vestige is Chess Records, where music greats like Etta James, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon made their music.

Janine Judge, Executive Director of Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation, helps keep Willie Dixon’s memory alive here. And just this week, she resumed making tours of the building for the first time in 16 months.

“I would like to see the city of Chicago embrace the genre of music it owns. Very few cities can really claim a genre of music. Chicago blues is actually a genre in itself. And as Willie Dixon said, “The blues is the root, the rest is the fruit.” Almost all of the music comes from blues music somewhere, â€Judge said.

Chess Records, in the South Loop, is where great musicians like Etta James, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon made their music.  (WTTW News)Chess Records, in the South Loop, is where great musicians like Etta James, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon made their music. (WTTW News)

There is the musical history on Record Row, the history of the car on Motor Row, but there is also the significant architectural history in the South Loop.

The epicenter of this heritage is Glessner House, one of the original Prairie Avenue homes from the late 19th century. It was built in 1887 by architect Henry Hobson Richardson for the Glessner family, in part to show their success and wealth.

“The South Loop was very popular because it was close to the city center, it was easy to get to their businesses, you didn’t have to worry about crossing the river,†said Bill Tire, the house curator. . “At the start of the 20th century, as the city grew and it was easier to get to parts of the city, people left the South Loop, and it really went through a long period of decline for a great deal. part of the 20th century. That’s why most of the homes around Glessner House were ultimately lost, â€Tire said.

And today, only seven of the original 90 houses are still standing.

Tire, who literally wrote the book About Prairie Avenue and Its History, says houses like Glessner House are important to understanding the history of the city and how it developed so rapidly at the time.

And many of the Chicago institutions we know today, like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute of Chicago, were founded by the Glessners and their contemporaries.

Glessner House resumed touring in March of this year.

Glessner House is one of the original Prairie Avenue homes from the late 19th century.  (WTTW News)Glessner House is one of the original Prairie Avenue homes from the late 19th century. (WTTW News)

Community Report Series

“Chicago Tonight†Expands Community Reporting. We take to the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. Find out where we’ve been and what we’ve learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.

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