As much as we rag on the CTA, it's always exciting when a fresh station opens up. It doesn't happen too often. Stops like the Morgan Green and the Oakton-Skokie Yellow have opened up pockets of the city (and, er, Skokie) to explore in recent years. This week, the Green Line added another dot to its map, the Cermak-McCormick Place station in the Near South Side. Frankly, it's so close to the Chinatown Red Line, it's not revolutionary, but we'll take it. The new stop gets you closer to some restaurants and nightlife spots we dig, not to mention the massive convention center in the station name. That will be nice for events like the Auto Show and C2E2.
Here are some things to do around the new stop.
Chess Records / Blues Heaven Foundation The address 2120 S Michigan will ring a bell with rock & roll lovers. The Rolling Stones had a song about it, and with good reason. As the former home of Chess Records, this erstwhile studio and label home is the mecca of all electric guitar music. Today, the place is a museum.
Chicago Illuminating Company With easy transportation access, this area could be the next weddings hub. The modern, minimal Chicago Illuminating building is a cool, gorgeous event space. And for picturesque outdoor wedding pics, there's our nearby next entry…
Chicago Women's Park and Gardens This small, pretty park is framed by historic houses (see below) and features a large copper-basin fountain and the Helping Hands Sculpture, a sort of mini Stonehenge, in its crisply landscaped rectangle.
Clarke House Before the likes of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or even Louis Sullivan started putting Chicago on the architectural map, this 1836 Greek Revival–style home, graced with a four-column portico, symbolized the first national architectural style. It also lays claim to being the city’s oldest house.
Opart Thai House This second location of the Lincoln Square Thai stalwart thumbs its nose at the chowhounds running around town for ant eggs and crispy caterpillars. No need for secret menus here—a broad range of staples is done well and at a good price.
Reggie's Rock Club and Music Joint / Record Breakers The area around this new stop is rich with concert halls and is now a live music hub on par with the Lawrence Red. Reggie's focuses on punk, metal and hip-hop, for those who need volume and velocity. The rooftop is pretty sweet, too. The adjoining Record Breakers, while not one of our city's best record stores, is still an increasingly rare place for purchasing physical music.
The Shrine Perhaps the most underrated music venue in the city, the Shrine is both a top dance club and the vital stopping point for soul and rap acts. Coming up soon: hip crooner Mali Music and a J Dilla tribute.
Tommy Gun's Garage The long-running interactive dinner theater re-creates the gangster-ridden world of 1920s Chicago.
Velvet Lounge The club, which was run by veteran saxophonist Fred Anderson before his death, once concentrated on avant-garde jazz, though today it is as much a sports bar, nightclub and private events space.