Vanessa Valadez

Welcome to this, the fifth annual Best of the South Side.

We don’t mean to be self-congratulatory, but five years is kind of a milestone. It makes you want to ask: what makes something the best of the South Side? And how can that change every year? Five years is a milestone for us, but it’s not much time at all—not for these neighborhood boundaries carved out by University of Chicago sociologists in the 1920s, not for this city, not for the Potawatomi before that.

The South Side is bigger and deeper than its literal geography (around sixty percent of Chicago’s land area, if you want to know). Even as the area of Chicago stays the same, what’s within the city is always expanding—the history is always there too, if someone works to remember it. The best of the South Side always changes, because neighborhoods are always growing and changing, for the good and for the bad and also independently of value judgments. Beloved restaurants go out of business, while some are just opening their doors; new arts initiatives pop up, lose dedicated volunteers, and regain their footing; a local activist rises to prominence. There’s the kernel of a “best” in practically every aspect of a neighborhood—you just need to know the place well enough to find them, and find a focus that puts their value into crisp, clear view. To know a neighborhood well is not to know more of it but to know it differently—than your cousin, than your elderly next-door neighbor, than yourself at the same time last year.

This might also mean knowing a community differently than how the city’s neighborhood boundaries define it, or than how a publication characterizes it. In the end, we believe in these communities because they matter to people, to you—because you’re a part of them, and you expand them and deepen them.

Whether you’ve been here for five years or for fifty, we hope this year’s Best of the South Side issue is a milestone for you too. We hope it inspires many more years of celebrating what makes your communities, and our side of the city, so special. This is just a beginning.

We know that these pages don’t include all the best things on the South Side. Share your favorites with us by emailing or by tweeting @SouthSideWeekly with the hashtag #BoSS2017.

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Best of Auburn Gresham

Best of Back of the Yards

Best of Beverly & Morgan Park

Best of Bridgeport & McKinley Park

Best of Brighton Park & Archer Heights

Best of Bronzeville

Best of Chatham, Avalon Park, & Greater Grand Crossing

Best of Chicago Lawn & Gage Park

Best of Chinatown

Best of Englewood

Best of the Far Southeast Side

Best of Hyde Park & Kenwood

Best of Little Village & South Lawndale

Best of Midway & Ashburn

Best of Pilsen

Best of Pullman & Roseland

Best of the South Loop

Best of South Shore

Best of Washington Park & Woodlawn

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