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Curbed Cup Elite Eight: (2) West Loop and Fulton Market vs. (7) Uptown

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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 are two of the most active neighborhoods in the city. Developers snatch up property at every opportunity and are eager to launch the next creative redevelopment.

Sterling Bay just proposed three office buildings and a movie theater for the area. In November, IBT Group and LAMB Properties announced the area’s largest proposal to date—a 1.2-million-square-foot, mixed-use complex. That’s double the size of the Google-anchored 1K Fulton building. Office buildings and hotels are going up left and right. The Ace Hotel opened up this year and two others are in the works.

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 absence of towering high-rises is another aspect to admire about this neighborhood.

The restaurants, pop-up shops, tons of headquarter relocations and massive development boom shot this neighborhood up from No. 10 to No. 2 in Curbed Cup’s bracket this year. Will the momentum be enough to win neighborhood of the year?

(7) Uptown

Uptown is a neighborhood that is a perfect union of old and new. The area is dotted with architectural gems including the Moorish-style Aragon Ballroom, the legendary 100-year-old Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, and even an Art Deco Post Office.

Aragon is just one of many theaters and entertainment venues in Uptown. There’s also the gorgeous Riviera Theater and the movie palace Uptown Theater, which is in desperate need of restoration. A mini pagoda set atop the Argyle el station is a nod to the immigrant community and many Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants that pack the street nearby.

The neighborhood claims Montrose Beach and The Dock—both popular summertime destinations. The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is a unique public space, that provides a scenic rest stop for birds migrating in fall or spring.

In more recent news, Uptown’s historic Agudas Achim Synagogue is being redeveloped into apartments and a handful of TOD projects will bring additional residences to the area. This year the $203 million Wilson stop restoration was completed after nearly three years, signaling an important step in the neighborhood’s restoration.

In past Curbed Cups, Uptown was the reigning champ in both 2010 and 2011—so will they do it again this year? Cast your vote below!