The historical Printers Row neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side is aptly named. Decades ago, printing businesses both large and small lined the streets of Printers Row. Beginning in the 1970s, many of these buildings were repurposed as residential lofts, though the most iconic buildings remain as part of the Printing House Row District, a national historic landmark that overlaps with the neighborhood.
The neighborhood is bordered by the Chicago River to the west, Ida B. Wells Drive to the north, Plymouth Court to the east, and Polk Street to the south. That means Printers Row residents can enjoy the tranquility of tree-lined streets all while being minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the Loop.
Read on to learn why Printers Row is one of Chicago’s most popular and up-and-coming neighborhoods for renters.
History of Printers Row
By the late 19th-century, Printers Row was the epicenter of printing in the Midwest. For many decades, millions of books flowed from this mecca of printing and bookbinding. R.R. Donnelley & Sons and Rand McNally are prominent examples of famous Printers Row businesses.
The red brick Franklin Building dates to 1916. Polychrome terracotta tiles along the building’s east facade depict those who once plied their trade here, including a typesetter and a bookbinder. A painted tile mural commemorates the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible.
The landmark Printing House Row District includes Dearborn Station. The Romanesque Revival structure at the corner of Dearborn and Polk dates back to 1885. In Upton Sinclair’s 1905 novel, “The Jungle,” the lead character Jurgis Rudkis is a Lithuanian immigrant who arrives at Dearborn Station to begin his new life. By 1920, the station with the majestic 12-story clock tower served 17,000 rail passengers per day. Operations ceased in the 1970s but Dearborn Station remains an important part of the neighborhood to this day, hosting retail shops, offices, and more.
Printers Row Events
Printers Row Lit Fest is an annual literary festival held every year on a June weekend. The Near South Planning Board established the festival in 1985 to attract more visitors to the neighborhood. Today, it is one of the Midwest’s largest book fairs. Annual attendance has reached as high as 150,000 and C-SPAN even broadcasts from the festival. Hundreds of vendors offer their books: some new, some old, and some rare. More than 200 authors contribute to panel discussions.
Printers Row City Market is another seasonal treat. It is open Saturday mornings from July to October. Browse and select from generous displays of vegetables, fruits, bread, houseplants, and more. At other times, relax near the fountain at Printers Row Park. The one-third-acre park also includes a community garden.
Printers Row Restaurants
You’ll find many popular restaurants in the Printers Row neighborhood. Many serve their devoted clientele along Clark and Dearborn streets. Before the big game, sports fans gather at First Draft or Kasey’s Tavern. Kasey’s is the second oldest tavern in the city. Sociale is a tapas bar with an international vibe. In the winter, request a seat at one of Sociale’s fire tables.
Those who favor the flavors of Mexican food head to Flaco’s Tacos. Gordo’s, a few steps away, is the place to head for homemade ice cream.
Universities and Schools
Prominent high education institutions call Printers Row home. They include Roosevelt University, Robert Morris University, and Columbia College, UIC John Marshall Law School. DePaul University’s Loop Campus is also in the area.
Printers Row is also home to Jones College Prep, the British International School, and The South Loop Montessori School, which is located in Dearborn Station. And, according to Chicago Magazine, the nearby South Loop Elementary is among the top-ranked in the city, making Printers Row an attractive destination for families.
Less than a mile away from Printers Row is Grant Park. Here you’ll find iconic Chicago attractions like the Art Institute and Buckingham Fountain. Millennium Park is home to the iconic “Bean” sculpture. Maggie Daley Park offers rock climbing, tennis, and mini-golf. Residents of Printers Row enjoy quick access to the Lakefront Trail and its 18 miles of paved surfaces.
The Museum Campus is just south of Grant Park and The Field Museum is mere blocks away from Printers Row. Gaze up at “Sue,” the 40-foot-long T. rex who waited some 67 million years to attain her celebrity status. Explore the mysteries of the universe at the Adler Planetarium and the aquatic wonders of the Shedd Aquarium.
Behind some of Printer Rows’ historic facades, you’ll find well-established bookstores that stock everything from new releases to literary classics, and from rare manuscripts to university texts. Sandmeyer’s Bookstore is a true mom-and-pop shop that has served South Loop residents for more than four decades. Browse the latest releases, or shop for holiday gifts within its cozy confines.
Since Printers Row is so close to downtown Chicago, transportation options abound. Harrison Station is on the route of the CTA Red Line. CTA bus stop 1875 is at Dearborn and Polk.
LaSalle Street becomes the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) immediately to the west. Reach Chicago’s west side and the western suburbs in minutes. Exit to the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90) for destinations to the north and south. To reach the southwest suburbs, head south on the Dan Ryan to the Stevenson Expressway (I-55).
Printers Row Living
One example of Printers Row luxury living is Draper and Kramer’s Burnham Pointe. Here, historically inspired design elements pay homage to the glory days of Printers Row. Modern updates complement a carefree and active lifestyle. Burnham Pointe is also a very pet-friendly property—a real plus in Printers Row. The spacious indoor bark park is a popular amenity for pet parents, especially during Chicago’s cold and blustery winter days.
Draper and Kramer is a family-owned real estate company founded in Chicago in 1893. Read more about Draper and Kramer’s portfolio of luxury apartment properties or schedule a virtual tour of Burnham Pointe today.