What is the South Loop? Well, that depends on who you ask – and when you ask them!
Traditionally the South Loop was considered fairly small, bordered by Dearborn Station to the north, Roosevelt Road to the south, Michigan Avenue on the east, and either Clark Street or the Chicago River on the west. As development (and redevelopment) have increased, so have the boundaries.
Today the South Loop, which is also commonly referred to as the Near South Side, is generally considered to extend from Congress Parkway on the north to the Stevenson Parkway (I-55) on the south. The Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) serves as the western boundary, with Lake Michigan as the eastern boundary.
People may not agree on its physical boundaries (more on that here), but no one would argue about whether the South Loop has a colorful past. It was “historically home to vice districts, including brothels, bars, burlesque theaters, and arcades. Inexpensive residential hotels on Van Buren and State Street made it one of the city’s Skid Rows until the 1970s” (Wikipedia). But it also includes neighborhoods where magnates of the transportation, retail, and consumer goods industries lived and was the heart of the Midwest’s printing industry for much of the twentieth century.