Some people like to escape the daily grind by delving into the pages of a good book. Chicago’s Printer’s Row neighborhood offers shelves upon dusty shelves of quick literary fixes and plenty of lavish housing in between. As the name suggests, this charming section of town was once a bustling commerce and manufacturing site for press and literary organizations. While many of the industrial press buildings have been converted and rehabbed into condos and lofts, Printer’s Row has held on to its publishing roots through several long-established bookstores and yearly book fairs.
In addition to being Chicago’s most prominent printing center, the area’s historic claim to fame is Dearborn Station, a legendary train depot that was the arrival point for many immigrants coming to America for the first time. The Dearborn rail stop also saw its share of celebrity passengers, most of who were in transit to Los Angeles. The station is still around, although it was converted into retail and office space in the 1980s, but the landmark building remains a constant reminder of how the railroad helped shape Chicago into the bright, lively city it is today.
Printer’s Row’s history also lives on in the modern-day literary community that has formed in the neighborhood. The streets are lined with book dealers ranging in everything from textbooks to best sellers to the classics. Some of these shops include Printer’s Row Fine & Rare Books and the family owned and operated Sandmeyre’s Bookstore. There’s also Books in the City, which supplies students of the nearby Columbia College, Roosevelt University and Robert Morris College with required reading material. And every year, Printer’s Row draws local and out-of-town book-lovers to the south side for Chicago’s annual book expo. The event is so huge the entire neighborhood closes down its streets to make way for booksellers, literary organizations and small press associations from all over the country.
Once you’ve found your next read, head over to one of Printer’s Row’s coffee houses where you can curl up with a freshly roasted cup of java or mingle with other bookish types. When you’re hungry, the neighborhood has plenty of restaurants including a few local chains, like Potbelly’s, where you can grab a quick lunch or midday snack in between classes or office meetings. For brunch, Orange on Harrison is one Printer’s Row restaurant that everyone enjoys – which is why it is usually packed on the weekends. Folks seeking a tasty late breakfast line up out the door for a table and a chance to sample Orange’s outstanding flavored pancake plates. In the evenings you can head to the neighborhood wine bar or sip a cocktail or two at Bar Louie, a popular Chicago chain sports bar with an upscale spin.
Most of Printer’s Row’s residential real estate is urban-inspired housing that doesn’t include much in the way of single-family homes. Instead, Printer’s Row residents appreciate that active but quaint neighborhood atmosphere of a big city borough with tightly-packed brick walk-ups, renovated loft buildings and some new condos. Studios start in mid $100,00s, but most are listed between $170,000 and $200,000. One bedroom condo and loft units cost anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000. Want more space? You’ll probably have to dish out another couple hundred-grand for an extra bedroom. Of course, if you’re going to splurge, you may as well opt for one of those coveted Printer’s Row penthouses, which easily go for $650,000 or more.