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Curbed Cup 1st round: (8) Lakeshore East vs. (9) Pilsen

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Which neighborhood will make it to the next round? Vote now!

Lakeshore East development at night with street lights glowing.
Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Carl Larson

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!


(8) Lakeshore East

Also known as Chicago’s New East Side, this downtown collection of skyscrapers and townhomes is one of the city’s youngest neighborhoods. Built on landfill that once supported a commercial rail yard, Lake Shore Drive’s infamous S-curve, and later a nine-hole golf course, Lakeshore East is a master-planned city within a city and is considered by many to be a triumph of modern urban planning.

Home to architectural icons such as Jeanne Gang’s Aqua and the skyline-altering Vista Tower, the neighborhood centers around a rectangular tract of green space featuring a playground, dog park and decorative fountains. The area is a dream for downtown commuters and is a short walk from the Loop, Maggie Daley Park, Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, and the Lakefront Trail. Pedestrian access to the latter is only expected to improve as future phases of high-rise development round out the rest of the planned community.

While Lakeshore East may not offer the traditional neighborhood feel of Chicago’s outlying low-rise communities, its shortcomings haven’t stopped an ever increasing number of residents from embracing the density, settling down, and raising children there. Does this carefully laid out city within a city have what it takes to advance to the next round?


(9) Pilsen

Pilsen is a neighborhood that’s impossible to miss. The famous murals, authentic Mexican food and the people who call it home are unforgettable. From the beginning its been an important neighborhood for immigrants—first home to Germans, then Czechs and now a vibrant Mexican population.

Cafe Jumping Bean at sunset

A post shared by Tim Klein (@timkleinphoto) on

Over the past few years, the neighborhood has been in the spotlight as its faced increasing gentrification. Small Mexican-owned businesses and long-time residents have suffered as high-end retail infiltrates and rental rates increase. It’s something that the community has been vocal about and tried to fight against. One thing for sure is that Pilsen has proven to be a neighborhood full of passion, creativity and grit.

The cultural history of the neighborhood is rich and reflected in the architecture. One example is Thalia Hall, a popular music venue and home to Dusek’s and Punch House, which was designed by Faber and Pagels in 1892 and modeled after Prague’s opera house. One of the city’s best museums, the National Museum of Mexican Art calls Pilsen home too. Festivals, celebrations and parades boasting neighborhood pride are never in short supply, as well as local art galleries, restaurants, and bars.

So which neighborhood deserves to move ahead? Vote now!