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Near South Side

In the mid-19th century, the Near South Side was a rough-and-tumble mix of warehouses and residential buildings, home primarily to Irish and German immigrants. Working-class housing consisted of small wooden structures while the more affluent built grand houses along Wabash and Michigan avenues. The Great Fire of 1871 spared much of the area, and over the next 20 years it transformed to mainly commercial uses largely due to its close proximity to the south branch of the Chicago River and two train stations. While the neighborhood included Chicago’s earliest “Millionaire’s Row” along Prairie Avenue and important religious institutions like Quinn Chapel AME and Second Presbyterian Church, much of the area was notorious as a vice district. Today, the Near South Side is widely seen as a desirable location to live and work, with a range of restaurants, museums, the McCormick Place Convention Center, and historic landmarks including Motor Row, the Glessner House and the Clark-Ford House.

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