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Belmont Pedestrian Plaza -- a Placemaking Proposal for Lakeview
by crandell | 04/06/2009
Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square was created through a similar street reconfiguration. Photo: Erik Swedlund
In celebration of the Burnham Centennial, I'm sharing an idea to enhance the public realm in my neighborhood. I've lived in Lakeview for six years, and while I love it, I've always felt that it's missing a quality public gathering space. The various sub-neighborhoods kind of have their own little centers, but you can't really inhabit those places. Most of the sidewalks are too narrow and there aren't places to sit. I grew up near Annapolis, Md., which has a harbor with a plaza where people would hang out to talk, eat ice cream, drink coffee, etc. And Lakeview alone is almost three times the size of Annapolis, so we should be able to support a place like that. Anyone who has lived in a European city also knows what a pleasure a nice centrally located plaza can be. But even some other neighborhoods in Chicago have such places. I'm thinking of Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square, which is a great, active public place.
These kinds of shared spaces are an important symbol of the civic life of a neighborhood. They represent a common investment by the community to provide a democratic place for all people to use and enjoy. I believe attention to the civic realm is really what distinguishes great urban places from bland suburbs.
So I've been dreaming for some time about getting a plaza on Belmont near the CTA station. I was inspired by Lincoln Square and thought of a similar plan, which would not only create a wonderful civic place, but would also be very doable. The plan involves creating a cozy pedestrian plaza at Wilton and Belmont by returning two-way traffic to Wilton and making it a cul-de-sac.
Why a pedestrian plaza and why here?
An Outdoor Living Room for Central Lakeview
At the Heart of the Neighborhood
Positive Pedestrian Impact, Minimal Automobile Traffic Impact