Like a lot of people she knows, Michelle Passantino only comes to the Loop for one reason: her job.
“But occasionally, I’ll see people maybe walking their dog or going for a jog, and I wonder, ‘Do these people live here?’” she says.
So Michelle asked Curious City: Who actually lives in the Loop? And what makes them want to live there?
Michelle says she doesn’t see the appeal to living in the area. “It doesn’t seem like a neighborhood type of place to live, and it seems like a very expensive place to live,” she says.
Yet more than 33,000 folks have found a good reason to live there— that’s the population according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures. In fact, the population of the Loop has tripled since 1990, even as the city as a whole has lost people.
So what is attracting folks to the Loop? In the video below, we introduced Michelle to a variety of people living in the Loop for reasons you might not expect: community, security, and the chance to sniff out new friends.
Liz Stanton is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. Follow her at @ElizAnnStan.
More about our questioner
Michelle Passantino has spent her entire life in Chicago. She currently lives in the Dunning neighborhood, a residential area with manicured lawns and lots of baseball fields for Little League games — pretty much the opposite of the Loop, where the sidewalks are crowded with tourists, and the noise from traffic lasts all day.
As a new parent, Michelle was especially skeptical of the Loop lifestyle. “I think it would be hard to have small children downtown, maneuvering a stroller around the workday crowd,” she says.
However, after meeting a variety of downtown dwellers, Michelle’s perspective changed. “The things that stand out to me are how safe they feel in the Loop, and how much of a community they feel is in the Loop,” she says. “Those are things I wasn’t expecting at all to hear about people who live here.”
So will we see this downtown doubter scoping out condos on State Street anytime soon?
“I’m still good in my neighborhood,” says Michelle. “But I can see the appeal now.”
Jake Smith writes and produces radio stories in Chicago. Follow him at @JakeJeromeSmith.