Urban Design

What Makes Your Place Great? Enter MPC's Contest to Find Chicago's Best Public Spaces!

by crandell | 06/07/2009

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Chicagoans are lucky to have a multitude of vibrant streets and public spaces to enjoy every day. From lunches outside in Millennium Park to coffee at a sidewalk table on Broadway in Lakeview, I certainly do my best to take advantage of the great places our city offers. These kinds of places not only are good for our quality of life, but they also contribute to the economic health of our region. In order to showcase Chicagoland's best places and remind Chicagoans why these places are so important, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has launched the "What Makes Your Place Great?" contest at PlacemakingChicago.com.

The contest is open through July 27, 2009. Email MPC your original photographs or videos of your favorite Chicagoland public space. Together with a 250-word-or-less description, your photos or videos should describe why this place is special to you and how it adds to your community.

Belmont Pedestrian Plaza -- a Placemaking Proposal for Lakeview

by crandell | 04/06/2009

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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.

Just a reminder: cars can kill people

by pinkscare_LN | 02/17/2009

According to an article in today's RedEye, there were fifty-six pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in Chicago in 2008. As the article points out, there are a LOT of pedestrians in this city. Chicago was named the 4th most walkable city in America by the organization Walk Score, and I can vouch for the awesome walkability of my own neighborhood.

Chicago 2016 Olympics: Where's the Transit Legacy?

by crandell | 02/08/2009

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As we wait for Chicago 2016 to make its final Bid Book public, I thought I'd take a moment to review what the last iteration of our Olympic plan said about transportation. I think one of the major selling points for Chicagoans is the promise of "legacy" projects that will improve our quality of life following the games -- and I do believe the Olympics certainly have the potential to be good for our city. The Chicago 2016 website claims this as one of 16 benefits to the city: "Hosting the Games will fast track key capital projects, especially transportation related initiatives, to coincide with the Olympiad." We balance the budget risk of the games against this legacy daydream and hope the games will draw enough funding to make the dreams a reality.

Walk Score Ranks Chicago's Most Walkable Neighborhoods

by crandell | 07/17/2008

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If you've ever wished there were an easier way to figure out which areas of the city are friendliest to those on foot, then you'll be excited about Walk Score's new walkability maps and neighborhood rankings. Walk Score today published rankings for the most walkable cities (Chicago is ranked fourth), as well as the most walkable neighborhoods in each city -- in Chicago: the Loop, Near North Side, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Uptown. They also have wonderful color-coded walkability maps for each city illustrating which areas are most walkable.