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Curbed Cup 1st round: (2) West Loop and Fulton Market vs. (15) Rogers Park

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Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Retangular, frame-shaped public art in Chicago’s Mary Bartelme Park on a sunny day.
Mary Bartelme Park
David Wilson / Flickr

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!


(2) West Loop and Fulton Market

The West Loop and Fulton Market District are flaming hot neighborhoods. Developers can’t stop themselves, which is fine because there seems to be a never-ending supply of buildings perfectly suited for creative redevelopment.

Earlier this week, a proposal from Sterling Bay included three office buildings and a movie theater. In November, the area’s largest proposal to date was announced—a 1.2-million-square-foot, mixed-use complex from IBT Group and LAMB Properties. For comparison, the Google-anchored 1K Fulton building is just about half that size.

Other upcoming projects include a warehouse-style office structure at 801 W. Fulton Market, a glassy seven-story project at 1201 W. Lake Street, and the McDonald’s Vendor Village at 210 N. Carpenter. The Ace Hotel opened up this year and the 58-story Equinox Hotel is waiting for approval. It’s anyone’s guess on when the Nobu Hotel might get back on track but the project did just switch hands. There is so much ongoing development—it’s impossible to mention them all.

No other neighborhood in Chicago has restaurant scene like the one on Randolph Street. The former meatpacking district is now full of swanky restaurants and Michelin stars. The Randolph Street Market with more than 200 vendors has been a long-time shopping favorite of many residents and Mary Bartelme Park has some pretty awesome city views and public art. For both locals and tourists, the West Loop and Fulton Market are must-see neighborhoods.

(15) Rogers Park

Rogers Park is the city’s most northern neighborhood and may not get the attention it deserves due to its distance from downtown. The area buzzes with many different languages, offers well-worn local haunts, dive bars and plenty of coffee shops for Loyola students.

Row houses on Pratt Street in Rogers Park
Tim / Flickr

Several historic buildings have found new life as apartments but plenty of new multifamily development is popping up the area as well. Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Emil Bach house is a major attraction in the neighborhood, as well as the community-based public arts initiative Mile of Murals.

There is lots to take advantage of in Rogers Park, such as the many different restaurants which include Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian and nearly every cuisine in between. A community hub, Heartland Cafe, acts as a gathering space with regulars showing up every week for open mic nights. Nostalgia runs rampant at Lost Eras Costume and Prop, where vintage treasures are hidden throughout the shop.

The relatively quiet Rogers Park could not be more of an opposite to the booming West Loop and Fulton Market—but which one deserves to be neighborhood of the year?