Natalie González

In the 1920s, University of Chicago sociologists carved up the city into seventy-five squarish sections, basing the boundaries on the neighborhoods that existed at the time. Two more areas were added on the North Side in later decades, yielding a magic number that many Chicagoans are familiar with: 77. Though the South Side’s boundaries have not changed in almost a century, census data and city planning initiatives are still organized around these ancient community areas. When DNAinfo asked Chicagoans to draw the boundaries of their neighborhoods a year ago, there was some disagreement about where exactly they begin and end, but the average drawing looked a lot like one of those familiar community areas.

But when you ask someone where their neighborhood is, or what their neighborhood looks like, their answer will never be as simple as a single square mile bounded by viaducts and big commercial streets. Our sense of home is never as simple as “Bridgeport,” “West Englewood,” or “Brighton Park.” We use these names in the Best of the South Side issue because they’re filled with meaning and history, but we know there’s so much we’re missing—pocket-sized communities, in-between spaces, individual blocks.

Communities are made up of people, not pieces of land. The center of yours might be wherever you wake up in the morning. Maybe it’s bounded to the north by your grandmother’s house, to the south by your best friend’s, to the west by the corner store or the laundromat, to the east by your school or your favorite place to get dessert. Maybe it looks more like one of Chicago’s messy, gerrymandered wards than it does one of the box-shaped community areas.

No matter the shape or form your neighborhood takes, though, and no matter if you’ve been there for six months or sixty years, it’s yours. We at the Weekly hope this year’s Best of the South Side issue gives you a reason to try something new for dinner or visit a neighborhood you’ve never been to before, of course. But more than anything else, we hope you see in these pages a celebration of the places we live in, the people that live around us, and all the good that happens in our communities every day.

We know that these pages don’t include all of the bests of the South Side. Share your favorites with us by emailing or by tweeting @SouthSideWeekly with the hashtag #BoSS2016.

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Best of the South Side 2016 was featured on ABC Chicago’s Windy City LIVE on Tuesday, September 20. Watch the videos below for an interview with our Editor-in-Chief and a celebration of three South Side eateries featured in this issue!

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Auburn Gresham → 


Back of the Yards → 


Beverly & Morgan Park → 


Bridgeport & McKinley Park → 


Brighton Park & Archer Heights → 






Chicago Lawn → 


Chinatown → 


Englewood → 


Far Southeast Side → 


Gage Park & Midway → 


Hyde Park & Kenwood → 


Little Village → 


Pilsen → 


Pullman & Roseland → 


South Loop → 


South Shore → 


University Village & Little Italy → 


Woodlawn & Washington Park → 

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