Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Make Dearborn a Pedestrian Street

Whenever we read city planning articles or posts we automatically try to think how that idea or theory could apply to the Sloop. Over the weekend we read a post from Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune about the possibilities of pedestrian streets in Chicago.

It is a popular attribute of urban life in many foreign (especially European) cities and something some cities in the US have begun to implement (most notably New York in Times Square and Harold Square). Kamin's post doesn't specifically call out any locations in the Sloop that would be prime candidates to convert to pedestrian streets, but in our opinion the stretch of Dearborn between Polk on the South and Harrison on the North would be perfect.

As of now it's a large one way street with stores, restaurants and bars lining both sides. Although the street is used, it's not a vital stretch for car/bus/taxi traffic in the city mostly because there are north/south streets in close proximity Dearborn (Federal on the West and Plymouth on the East). Let me know if you disagree but it seems like these two streets could handle the traffic that would be diverted if Dearborn was paved over.

Obviously this is us just talking, but it seems logical in our opinion. Wouldn't it be great to have a pedestrian street in the heart of the Sloop? It's already nice and pleasant on Dearborn, but this would really improve the street. Let us know what you think.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

This would be awesome. Would be great for property values and development too.

Rob Latham said...

State Street was pedestrian-only from 79-96. I'm sure there are a lot of factors but that time corresponds to a period of great decline for the business there.

I see this point has been made on chicagoist and the tribune web sites so I guess I'm not such a clever one after all. Still, I would hope the lessons of State Street get applied to any future pedway.

Anonymous said...

State street wasn't really a true pedway during that time, as buses (and taxis, I think) were permitted to drive on state.

A pedway on Dearborn would be awesome, but I'm willing to settle for anything that gets drivers to just slow the eff down and stop nearly killing pedestrians crossing the street.

Charlie Thomason said...

What an awesome idea. In fact, I would love to help make this idea happen. You make an excellent point that Dearborn is NOT an important thoroughfare. With the South Loop becoming one of the City's newest and brightest neighborhoods, it could help out local businesses immensely.

Anonymous said...

We all would like our part of town to be "special", but there is a social fabric to a city as a whole that should be respected. Federal and Plymouth are both short streets that don't span very far; Dearborne, on the other hand, spans much of downtown and comes to a logical terminus (Polk Street Station). Harrison is not a very logical terminus.

Another reader has made the point that State street was, for a time, pedestrian only, and it was not helpful to the life of that section of the city.

I'm all in favor of a pedestrian-friendly city, but that has to be part of a larger plan, and mass transit throughout the core has to be restored and even upgraded before talk of "no auto" zones makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see more pedestrian streets in Chicago, and think this would be the most logical spot in South Loop. Of course, it probably should happen alongside some redevelopment on that parking lot at Harrison and Dearborn.

Anonymous said...

Close Dearborn and create a urban park at the parking lot on Harrison.

Anonymous said...

Chicago would really benefet from taking a step forward in giving priority to pedestrians & bicyclists over cars & trucks. Redesigning the Clark/Harrison and Clark/Congress intersections can make this a very efficient way to move traffic around Printers Row. Federal & Plymouth can be for local traffic only; while State & Clark continue to be the main N/S arteries for the area. Close Polk & Dearborn!!!

Anonymous said...

State street was a pedestrian zone and failed; Times/Herald Square are pedestrian zones that are busier than ever. Its all about how you do it and where you do it. I think this would be a good location.

charles said...

This would define our neighborhood as a true neighborhood and not just a thoroughfare for those living outside our area as it is now. It would be fantastic.
The only things I would add would be to make Clark 2-way until Congress and Make Polk from Clark to State car free too.

Cherise said...

I quite like this idea. What would be the first step, contacting the alderman to get support?

Anonymous said...

You people are out of your minds given that Dearborn is a feeder for traffic from State and Clark.

Anonymous said...

no traffic down dearborn??!?? how many bus lines go down dearborn? its a major local street for driving around the area. Using plymouth and federal makes its so hard to cross polk and harrison. Why not close off Plymouth and Federal? Open up the storefronts to both sides - like starbucks and and that newish sandwich rolly place. Remove those garbage cans on plymouth!!!

Anonymous said...

I think Plymouth and Federal do make a lot more sense, but we'd have to really redevelop the commercial space on these streets for this work.

Anonymous said...

Dearborn between Harrison & Polk is one of the most glorious vehicular streets downtown: the relationship between pedestrian and car is totally balanced (walkers can stroll across midblock with little wait, and cars get from point a to point b as quickly as they please).

Taking cars away would do one particularly awful thing: reduce safety. There are plenty of times when a lass such as myself will be walking her pooch late at night, when nearly no one else is around on foot. The passing cars give the lonely walker extra security (we don't have porches here for "eyes on the street," so the eyes need to come *from* the street). Urbanism 101.
Now, what *should* be pedestrianized is one stinking connection from Dearborn Park directly onto Clark.

Anonymous said...

"Now, what *should* be pedestrianized is one stinking connection from Dearborn Park directly onto Clark."

Tell me about it! But you can't suggest doing anything to Dearborn Park... Apparently that neighborhood is beyond criticism and/or improvement.

Molly said...

As long as bicycles are still allowed, I'm good.

Anonymous said...

"Now, what *should* be pedestrianized is one stinking connection from Dearborn Park directly onto Clark."

There's a door south of 9th.

Anonymous said...

"Now, what *should* be pedestrianized is one stinking connection from Dearborn Park directly onto Clark."

There's a door south of 9th.

A door that requires a key to access from Clark. A hidden out of the way door is not pedestrian access on par with every other street in the city, but nice try.

Anonymous said...

"A door that requires a key to access from Clark. A hidden out of the way door is not pedestrian access on par with every other street in the city, but nice try."

It doesn't require a key.

Anonymous said...

Love this idea! I cross this 4x a day for work. Even with the traffic light at Polk & Dearborn, I've seen many close calls & had several myself because drivers don't seem to notice the walk signal for pedestrians. I'd imagine it would be nice for the businesses in the area too--dining al fresco would certainly be improved by the absence of cars, too.

Katie said...

The gate to from Clark to Dearborn Park does require a key code. It would be awesome to be able to walk straight through from Clark to the area (Chicago Curry House!) or right on through to Michigan Ave... anyone wanna share the code????