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Curbed Cup 1st Round: The Loop (4) v. Uptown (5)

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The Curbed Cup, Curbed Chicago's annual Neighborhood of the Year tournament, is kicking off with eight (quarter)finalists, who will square off in a series of one-on-one matchups. Voting for each matchup will close in the wee hours of the following day. We'll have one per day through the week; results will be reviewed Friday. Let the eliminations begin!

The Loop made a lot of noise this year and in the 2010 Census, where it out-gained most other neighborhoods. A natural focal point for business development, it's now also a new apartment construction hot spot. Much of that heat is concentrated in the Lakeshore East Mega-development, where Aqua took top skyscraper design honors, and The Coast recently broke ground as the site's eighth high-rise with more to come. Roosevelt University's vertical dorm is almost complete. To pick one proposal from a slew of 'em, the recent announcement of the old Motor Club's potential conversion to hotel has people pretty excited. Development aside, it's still a 'hood markedly short on groceries and day-to-day services. But if you're driven by amenity or the advantages of living near much of the city's best cultural institutions and public space, then The Loop may catch your fancy. As a nominator put it, it's "still the undisputed beating heart of the city".

Last year's winner, Uptown, has absorbed some unflattering news of late (this month's standoff with police, for example), but it's still been gathering a lot of steam as a neighborhood. The mayor's office has declared the Broadway corridor an "Uptown Entertainment District" specifically eying restoration of the famous Uptown Theater as an anchor for commercial regeneration. Pockets of crime have kept housing prices fairly low (for the North Side), but to some this simply means the rare merger of quantity and quality with proximity to transit and the lake. 2011 welcomed the new Black Ensemble Theater, but if it's towers you're after, a resurgent Lake View Station is back on the boards as the 620-unit "Lighthouse at Montrose Harbor" (hoping to ruffle fewer feathers). And, lest we forget, Uptown is home to the Green Mill. That's something, friends.

Poll results

·2011 Curbed Cup: Name Chicago's Best Neighborhood!! [Curbed Chicago]