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Curbed Cup 1st Round: Lincoln Square (2) v. Lakewood-Balmoral (7)

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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. Let the eliminations begin!

Lincoln Square, it ain't just sausage. Cultural upgrades over the course of the year rival any 'hood, from the Old Town School of Folk Music's new digs to the DANK Haus' streetscape-bolstering face lift. Greenspace is getting an upgrade too, with the city's announced acquisition of a 20-acre piece of land on the Northwest corner of Rosehill Cemetery, destined to become nature preserve. Foodies know there's lots of good eating here, and it's home to one of Chi-town's booming breweries, Half-Acre. The neighborhood is gentrifying fast, but a measure of affordability remains, helped out by its distance from the lake and Loop.

Lakewood-Balmoral is really just a historic district within Edgewater, but we're content to recognize its nomination due to its distinct history and character. Predominately a residential cluster, it was first developed in the 1890s by John Lewis Cochran as a secondary destination for big-ass pastoral homes, if you couldn't afford a lakeside mansion. Funny enough, most of those fancy lakeside addresses gave way to apartment towers, and Lakewood-Balmoral became the area's node of opulence. While there's not much to do within the district itself, it's a quick walk to Andersonville or the lake. Development-wise, the Edgewater Medical Center site is a magnet for intrigue and debate. Want something more concrete? Head to Admiral at the Lake to watch the cranes fly.

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