If you’re not familiar with Printer’s Row, now’s your chance to read up all about it. Printer’s Row – AKA Printing House Row – is an area just south of the Downtown Loop. It’s bordered on the north by Congress Parkway, on the south by Polk Street, on the east side by Plymouth Court, and on the west by the Chicago River. It’s developed a name for being eclectic, artistic, and tightly-woven.
Printer’s Row got its name because in days of yore the buildings in this area were predominantly used by printing and publishing businesses (because keep your friends close and your enemies closer?). It was a time when linotype machines and printing presses once whirred – but these days it’s mostly residential. The old industrial buildings that are filled with character are now converted into lofts and the neighborhood has an intimate feel to it.
The best way of arriving there is via Dearborn Street Station which is situated at the southern end of the Row. Once the point of arrival for thousands of immigrants, Dearborn Street Station is a landmark.
The big event Printer’s Row is known for is the Lit Fest. Held in June, it’s an annual book fair and literary festival that began in 1985 and was called the Printers Row Book Fair. It was originally intended to attract visitors but when it was acquired by the Chicago Tribune in 2002, it took on the mantle of the Printers Row Lit Fest. Crowds up to 125,000 large show up for this Festival and it’s known as the Midwest’s largest book fair. Attendees can expect hundreds of book vendors, talks with authors, readings and other programs.
This year, expect such luminaries as Buzz Aldrin, LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Ethan Hawke, R.L. Stine and more. For more details on this year’s Lit Fest – which takes places from June 10-11, head here.
You can also find some great restaurants and blues and jazz bars. We recommend the Sofi if you’re into Italian, Umai if you prefer Japanese, and Flaco’s Tacos for a taste of Mexican. For a fuller list of what’s in the neighborhood simply click here.
So if you haven’t been yet, go check out a chill, artsy neighborhood that’s seen a few things in its time. And don’t forget the Book Fair!