Printer’s Row Neighborhood, Chicago
Once home to factories and printing presses, Printer’s Row Neighborhood, Chicago now attract students and visitors from around the world with great universities, a large library, parks, and other attractions.
The former printing businesses are now lofts and offices, and local colleges like Columbia College, Roosevelt, Robert Morris, and DePaul have further transformed the landscape and personality of the neighborhood.
Dearborn Street Station
The area blossomed into the heart of the printing industry in the region thanks to the Dearborn Station, completed in 1885—the first intercity train depot in the downtown area brought paper by the ton to local presses.
Dearborn Station is where countless Americans entered the City of Chicago for the first time and the place where others departed the Windy City on the Santa Fe Railway for parts west. Dearborn was closed in 1972 when all city stations were moved to Union Station. Today, it’s impressive clock tower still stands over Printer’s Row, and the building has morphed into restaurant and retail space.
Printers Row Lit Fest
To celebrate its origins, Printer’s Row holds an annual book fair and literary festival each June. Visitors can find rare books, hear authors speak, and enjoy local food. The Printers Row Lit Fest and book fair is the largest of its kind in the Midwest and features over 100 free programs.
In 2004, the area colleges completed the $151 million University Center at 525 S. State Street. The large dorm, home to nearly 2,000 students, is the nation’s largest joint student residence hall, and has retail space on the ground floor.
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Chicago takes up much of the real estate in the area. The large private school owns 17 buildings in Printer’s Row and the South Loop, and is by enrollment the biggest arts and communications college in the U.S.
Programs include Film and Video, Photography, Theater, Music, and Dance. Andy Richter, Pat Sajak, Kanye West, and Janusz Kaminski, whose cinematography credits include Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan, all studied their craft at the art school. The colleges’ artistic focus adds to Printer’s Row and the South Loop’s diverse, offbeat, and creative feel. It’s a pedestrian part of Chicago, filled with small nooks like Printer’s Row Park, consisting of a few benches and a fountain at 700 S. Dearborn, just steps away from the quaint Gourmand Coffee & Teas café.
Printers Row Blues
One of the area’s most famous music venues is Buddy Guy’s Legends, located at 754 S. Wabash (moving to 700 S. Wabash). The famous bluesman opened his club in 1989. The blues mecca has been graced by the likes of Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Buddy Guy himself.
Harold Washington Library Center
A few blocks to the north, visitors can find the Harold Washington Library Center at 400 S. State. Named for the former mayor of Chicago, the 750,000-square-foot public library is a post-modern red brick building with an ornamental glass and steel roof.
Printer’s Row and the South Loop were once forgotten industrial corners of the city, but today they are increasing in both population and culture. Hop on the red line, and take the el to one of the fastest growing sections of Chicago.
by Zach Baliva