Monday, October 25, 2010

Why No Through Street?

One of our favorite things about Chicago and the South Loop is that it has a sensible and relatively comprehensible city street grid. It's pretty easy to get around the Sloop thanks to the numbered east-west streets among other things. However one thing that has always perplexed us is why some of the streets aren't through streets. We all know about Dearborn Park I and II, but there are some others that stick out in our mind.

Below is a picture facing West at the corner of Wabash and 14th street. There is a stop light at
State and 14th (which presumably still functions due to the condo parking garage at that corner) and there is a sidewalk that appears to be built for a through street going West to that light. But for some reason a parking lot and wall block this from happening. Does anyone know the reason for this? We would love to hear some theories.
We know we're not city planners, but sometimes it's fun to play one (if you're like me you loved the Sim City growing up). What other city planning improvements would you recommend for the Sloop?


  1. This is where the State Street subway originally exited/ended. It comes out of the tunnel and joins the Green Line, the original routing of the line when the subway was completed.


    In November 1985, officials from the City of Chicago and the CTA® broke ground on the project to unite the Howard and Dan Ryan lines via a new subway connection. The project was budgeted at $142 million in '85. The undertaking was intended to create smoother, more efficient operations and provide the CTA® with the balanced ridership on its through-routes that would allow them to better rationalize service levels: in 1985, the Howard line had 98,000 daily boardings and the Ryan had 66,000 riders a day, while the Lake line had only 33,850 daily passengers and the South Side Elevated had about 45,000. In terms of similar ridership levels, the new mates would be a far better match. At the time of the groundbreaking, the project was expected to be completed in late 1988.

    In reality, completing the new subway connection took a great deal longer. Construction of the new tunnel -- which extended from just north of the Cermak-Chinatown station at 18th and Clark to the unused extension tubes built into the State Street Subway in 1943 (intended for the Archer Avenue Subway) just south of Roosevelt station -- took nearly five years.

    On January 25, 1990, the first test train was operated through the new Howard-Dan Ryan connector subway. Yet it would another three years before the divorce and remarriage of the lines would take place. Finally, in early 1993, the preparations were compete for the route realignment. The CTA® began a marketing in campaign to educate riders about the new through-routes featuring two frumpy twin characters named "Ho-DaR" (short for Howard-Dan Ryan) and "L.E. Jack" (Lake-Englewood-Jackson Park), with caps and jackets that matched the color of their respectively colored lines. On January 19, 1993, the new connector subway was activated and the operation of test trains and training runs began.

  2. the old Jackson Park / Englewood subway line is rising at this point to the elevated preventing the street from being connected...

    the streets that should be connected are the ones through Dearborn I and II and particularly the one at 15th...

  3. 9th Street in DPI and 15th Street in DPII MUST NEVER be opened to through traffic. NEVER I SAY!!!! The residents not just of DPI & II, but of the surrounding area MUST unite to prevent this from ever happening. The quality of life that these closures bring cannot be compromised. I think that all residents in the surrounding area benefit from these closures, not just residents of DPI & II. Furthermore, now that the election season is upon us and all of these wannabe aldermen are floating around, they all need to declare where they stand on this issue. Fioretti needs to be the first to declare that he will NEVER open up these streets. Of course he has lied before, so I am not sure that his word can be trusted in any case. Also, I have reason to believe that at least one of these aldermanic wannabes is a Fioretti shill, so I would have no reason to believe that particular candidate as well.

  4. The rest of the area benefits how? From all the traffic that has no place to go but on other streets? Please. They even display signs at the entrances at times saying "Residents only" as if it's a private street.

    One of my favorite hissy fits by Dearborn Park residents was when I read that they didn't want to allow an official bike path through it. Although the top one was the mass hysteria over the fence around the park/playground at South Loop School. I believe there was even a lawsuit filed, or at least threatened. Because it somehow infringed their liberty if they had to walk a few extra feet to enter the park. This was doubly hilarious because almost every property there has its own fence.

    I remember the whole uproar when the residents just south of Dearborn Park demanded 15th Street be closed off. Apparently the children that live there are the only ones whose parents are incapable of teaching them how to cross the street safely because they talked about how dangerous it would be. They didn't even want to allow access for fire trucks to the condo tower directly south. At least they lost that one. I say bring back the grid!!

  5. only those who live in DPI and DPII benefit from the streets being closed off. No buses can pass through, limiting public transportation options, and with the limitations already presented by the highway and the river it makes several inaccessible strips of the neighborhood. Closing off the neighborhood was valuable YEARS ago when the surrounding area was not safe, but now that it is a booming area, it hinders the growth of the neighborhood and ease of transportation for all of the other residents.

    Not to mention, the Zone 40 parking issue (DPI is apparently zone 40 but you can't park there 2 hours a day..."because of the school district") Fioretti's office has admitted that the parking issue alone is elitest behavior and bad for the neighborhood but said that their hands are tied.

    DPI and DPII residents want the best of both worlds -- to live in the suburbs in the heart of downtown. I appreciate that some DPI and DPII residents have been in the south loop for a very long time, but their stance on their precious neighborhood is bad for the development of the area and claiming that keep it shut off benefits everyone is ridiculous.

  6. Let's not forget that Cottontail Park is on 15th Street, there are hundreds of kids running around 15th. Residents from all over the South Loop utilize this park and typically proclaim the benefits of having 15th Street closed to thru traffic.
    Opening 15th Street is not a solution to the traffic issues in the neighborhood... it's the local residents that use their cars that is the problem. I have lived in the South Loop for many years and RARELY use my car. South Loop residents that complain of traffic need to reconsider if driving is the best option. Ride a bike (as my family does), ride the CTA, walk!
    The ONLY way we will survive and keep our sanity in the middle of Chicago's center is to live more sustainably... that means more bike lanes and less roads!

  7. I agree with the previous poster that people need to get out and use their legs more! On my way home last night I stopped at Target to pickup a few things. I couldn't believe the number of cars coming out of the parking lot - it was a steady stream...and how many people were walking in or out of Target the same time as me. 2.

  8. The Chicago Colliseum stood on this site (between 14th and 16th Streets)until it was demolished in 1982.

  9. I believe that the Chicago Coliseum stood on the east side of Wabash where the Buddhist center and adjacent parking lots now stand...
    It should be mentioned that Plymouth St. is the best biking street in the south loop! I commute via this road and can go a mile without having to worry about cars or trucks. A blessing in Chicago!
    Additionally, why does anyone want to have access through Dearborn Park? Clark Street is practically an expressway from 18th to Polk… and access further west is totally blocked by the Metra lines and the prairie. We are awfully lucky to have an island of relative peace so close to the center of Chicago…

  10. I like the lack of streets through Dearborn Park as well. I often walk home this way, and it makes for a nice peaceful walk rather than listening to horns blaring and other city noise. I still love the city, but I also like having this area as well.

    Also I think Clark should be kept limited access because this is one of the fastest ways to and from the loop.

  11. Are you kidding me? How would opening up the Dearborn Park streets benefit anyone? Why would a city bus need to travel through that area? How is the way it's set up "limiting transportation options"?!! Why would anyone want more traffic to flow through a school zone? Those comments are the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Home prices would drop and traffic accidents and crime would increase. It makes absolutely no sense to even consider it. It sounds to me like that commenter is just jealous that their neighbor has found a quiet, safe place to raise their families. Dearborn Park should be a blueprint for other areas to follow. More foot and bike traffic and less cars!

  12. I'll go one better and suggest that the Polk/Dearborn T-intersection needs some type of raised "vertical traffic calming" installation to slow traffic through this area and place pedestrians and vehicles on the same plane. This would provide a much needed safety advantage for pedestrians and put them on "equal footing" with vehicles. There's not a week that goes by where I don't see an elderly person, dog walker or pram pusher almost get clipped by a maniacal cabbie or someone else blowing through the light or turning up Dearborn at a high rate of speed.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.