Elevating Chicago

Basics Archives

More Chicago transit data than you can handle

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

The folks at the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) have done transit nerds yet another huge favor.  First it was their H+T Index, which was rolled into Abogo, their walkscore-esque tool that helps you measure your carbon footprint.  Now, they've gone and put an enormous collection of data online in an open, easy-to-use Transit-Oriented Development Database.  For lack of a better phrase, this is data porn.  Specifically, transit data.  You can look at every type of data imaginable for the areas within a quarter- or half-mile of any individual train station (what CNT calls the "transit zone" for that station) or collection of stations (the "transit shed").

I'll be rummaging through as much of the data as I can in the coming days and weeks (especially the job density statistics), but for now, here are a few tidbits to hold you over:

-- Based on 2000 population estimates, only about 1.15 million people live within a half-mile of L stations.  For reference: Chicago's population was about 2.9 million in 2000.  But keep in mind those 1.15 million include residents of Cicero, Oak Park, Skokie, and Evanston, where the L extends past Chicago's borders, so in reality an even smaller part of the city's population is transit-oriented.

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-- Although average density can be a very misleading statistic, it's useful in this sense: ideally, the areas near train stations should be significantly more dense than the city as a whole.  (Unless you're dealing with a uniformly-dense place like Manhattan, where even the low-density areas can support transit.)  Chicago's average density is about 13,000 people per square mile.  But as you can see above, nearly half of the 142 L stations have local densities (within 0.5 miles of the stop) under 13,440 people per square mile.  Granted, some of these stops are like O'Hare or Midway, but many of them are not.

-- 26 of the 27 densest stations by population are on the Red/Brown/Purple north side.  The lone outlier is Damen, on the Pink Line.

Much more to come, or add your own findings in the comments.


Labor Day Weekend Food for Thought

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

A few items to ponder over the long weekend, which I hope to expand on next week.

More on Street Signs
I've been thinking more about street signs--and especially numbering on street signs.  What strikes me is how infrequently block numbers are posted at all.  Every quarter or eighth of a mile on arterial streets is ok when you're driving, because if you miss your turn or turn the wrong way, it doesn't take much effort to double back to where you want to go.  But suppose you're on foot or on bike.  Suddenly making the wrong turn becomes a larger issue.  It's an issue both because of the effort you have to expend to correct it, but also because it will likely take longer to realize you've made a mistake in the first place.  So many of Chicago's residential neighborhoods have zoning requirements for setbacks that, without well-lit front doors, you can walk a full block without being able to make out an address.  In the loop, where many buildings are known simply by their address, it isn't a big as big a deal that the street signs almost universally do not include block numbers.  But if the loop is all we're concerned with, we're doing something wrong.

Frequent Network Maps
Building off a discussion from Jarret Walker at Human Transit, Jeff Wegerson at Prairie State Blue has mapped out a rough version of Chicago's Frequent Network Map.  His includes both bus and rail, and a few things jump out at me. First and foremost is how the canal carves up South Side transit options.  From 18th to (what looks like) 55th, there's no good east-west transit. These maps also really drive home how dense the loop is compared to the rest of the city, and how dramatically that skews our transit.  If you look at the 11 minute map in particular (below), you can start to see the skeleton of a corridor-based growth pattern that, if developed correctly, could help make Chicago more poly-centric, which would both ease the burden on the L and very likely lower total miles per vehicle in the city.  This is an idea I really want to get into in more depth, so if anyone knows of any studies about VMT and polycentricity, I'd love some light reading for this weekend.

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Jeff Wegerson's 11-minute CTA Frequent Network Map


Circles and Circumference
Also at Human Transit (what can I say, he's got a lot of good stuff going on over there), Walker talks about how the Moscow circle line is probably a bit too small with a diameter just under 4 miles.  Now, clearly both the urban and transit geography of Chicago and Moscow are very different, but the planned Circle Line here would suffer from a more extreme case of the same problem Moscow's line faces.  There, there's no reason to ride more than half the line.  Here, because there's nothing (from a transit standpoint) east of the loop, you'd never ride for more than a quarter of the line.  I'm not going to say that this is proof that the Circle Line is a waste of money as-designed--the need for any kind of inter-line connection that doesn't force riders all the way into the loop is desperately needed--but I think we as a city need to think long and hard about our current and future geometry. (I'd hate to turn it into a buzzword, but polycentricity is a big part of this, too.)

An Engineer's Aesthetic

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

Perhaps I'm in the minority on this issue.  (It wouldn't be the first time.)  Perhaps my stubborn preference for subtle consistency is preventing me from full-throated support of a worthy city program.  Whatever it is, I find myself disagreeing with Scott's post yesterday about the new artsy bike rack program.  I understand that it is a program which combines support for local arts with livable infrastructure at a minimal cost to the city.  I'm just not convinced it's the right thing to do.

I look at this program and don't see Cows on Parade or the city couches.  I see a piece of infrastructure which should be distributed equitably around the city that will instead go only where patrons will finance it.  A bike rack is no different than a car's parking space.  As the city's parking meters have gone the way of the dodo--drastically slashing the available bike parking throughout the city--we're losing a public good and hoping for private funds to pick up the slack.  I know that they will in certain parts of the city, but those aren't the only parts of the city where residents should be able to reach their destination without worrying about finding a secure place to lock their bike up.

Evanston Streetlamp.JPG
Also, as much as I hate the word, a bike rack is an easy opportunity for branding.  Many cities have a subtle piece of infrastructure which becomes iconic by its ubiquity.  Think of New York City's yellow taxicabs, or San Francisco's black and white street signs, or even suburban Evanston's slender black street lamps.  Each of these is particular to its place, and immediately gives residents and visitors a sense of place--no small feat in today's mass produced world.
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Phoned-in Friday

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

It's Friday.  I'm hitting the road soon, it looks like there'll be great weather for the weekend, and at some point the Blackhawks-Sharks series will start.  Here are a couple links to get you through whatever downtime you may have.  We'll be back next week with all sorts of goodness.

  • Today is the Michigan Ave. Bridge's 90th birthday.  I actually got to see the bridge's innards and its lawnmower-sized motor during one of my favorite middle school field trips.  (I'm an engineer through and through, what do you want?) At any rate, there are all sorts of festivities for the occasion starting at 10am, so check it out.

  • Conor Friedersdorf is editing a new site at The Atlantic on "The Future of Cities" to coincide with their current issue.  Conor's a very good writer and does a good job at explaining all the pertinent arguments, so check it often, as he'll be updating it daily throughout the month of May.

  • In case you hadn't heard, May is National Bike Month.  And yet, somehow bike-to-work week is June 12-18.  So, register.  Or take your own initiative and get your own personal Ride With program going.

  • Last week Brookings released their new "State of Metropolitan America" report, and it's got some interesting tidbits, including a look at why, despite a lower population growth rate than much of the country, Chicago is poised for long-term success.
So that's it.  Go run around, enjoy the city.  Happy Friday.

Patiently Promoting Progress

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

One of the issues I keep harping on is the creation of infill density in Chicago, especially in areas well-served by public transit.  These projects are vital to sustaining a functioning built environment, and aldermen play key roles in the process.  An alderman's job generally requires him to do two things, in my view: one, they represent their constituents views on issues common to the entire city; two, they do their best to deliver projects to their district which will do the most good.  When it comes to infill development, the latter requirement is clearly the important one.  This can sometimes mean residents and an alderman will disagree.  Often times, the alderman's political incentives win the day over the ward's economic or aesthetic well-being.  While this is a lamentable state of affairs, it's not an entirely surprising one.

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A Change I Do Believe In

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

As I currently sit in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I find myself thinking about the speech I just heard given by the University of Michigan graduating class of 2010's commencement speaker: President Obama.  (For full text and video of the speech, go here.)  We all know that Obama's platform during the campaign was "a change we can believe in," and at the graduation, he spoke about this point.  In this post I will discuss his commencement message and how it relates to many aspects of life, including "Elevating Chicago."

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City Knows How to Improve L Station Neighborhoods, Chooses Not To

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

One of the most effective ways to solve the last mile problem is transit oriented development, or TOD.  Or, if you're the CTA and the City of Chicago and just want to be different, you call it Transit Friendly Development, and you publish a toothless "guide" to improving the immediate vicinity of L stations around the city.  Without a single mention of "last mile" and putting forth only non-binding zoning considerations, the CTA, CDOT, and the Department of Zoning and Planning (DZLUP) have proven they can effectively give lip service to one of the most fundamental aspects of livability.

Leaving aside (for the moment) the issue of what--if any--actions the city will take going forward, it's important to see exactly what the city is advocating for.  First, the seven "typologies" they've outlined are Downtown Core (DC), Major Activity Center (MC), Local Activity Center (LC), Dense Urban Neighborhood (DN), Urban Neighborhood (UN), Service Employment District (SD), and Manufacturing Employment District (MD).  Stations are labeled not as what they are today, but as what the city sees them as becoming.

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How will we make it the "Last-Mile?"

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

In the past I've done a lot of CTA bashing, and even some Chicago bashing.  I don't intend to seem one sided.  I love my city, and think that as a whole it does many things well.  Today I want to talk about something that Chicago transit does better than some, but if they try hard enough, can do better than most; that is the concept of the "last-mile," in terms of transportation.


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BRT vs. Street Parking: a fight to the death.

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Besides the fact that street parking spots are making it difficult to create a bike lane system in Chicago (see last week's post), they are also making it difficult to create a viable BRT system. Recently, Ted noted the importance of starting the discussion on BRT in Chicago; I want to add to his post today.


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Convenient, I think not.

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.


We all have problems with the CTA.  Bus and train service cuts have affected our lives more than expected, the El cars smell like urine far too often, and the El bridges, especially those in the suburbs, look as if they might fall at any moment.  Through all of their many problems, however, the convenience factor of the CTA is the worst, and based on their current management, looks as if that convenience level may continue to decrease.


I'm not an economist, but the recent moves made by the CTA seem faulty.  As the CTA began to lose money, they decided to make service cuts and will soon raise prices.  As this happens, consumers such as I will use the CTA less frequently, thus decreasing their profits.  Soon the CTA will have to make even more service cuts and raise prices once again.  This seems to be a never-ending cycle of "death," and these illogical moves made by the CTA could eventually lead to their bankruptcy.


In my opinion, if the CTA wants to increase profits and end the cycle of "death," they must think of ways to increase riders, not decrease them.  Improving their convenience level is one way to do so.  I understand that with less capital, it is harder to pay the bus drivers, and thus harder to keep the same number of routes.  But if I have to wait a half-hour for a bus or train, I would much rather walk, ride my bike, or even pay for a cab.  Even if it means borrowing money, it is imperative that the CTA bring back the same level of service as a year ago.


Another way that the CTA is a perfect example of inconvenient public transportation is in regards to their monthly passes.  The CTA currently offers a 30-day pass for $86.  For some riders, this is a good deal.  Let's say these riders want to buy a pass, can they get it at any El station?  No, they can only buy online, at select Jewel or Dominick's, or at currency exchanges.  New York's MTA offers a monthly pass that you can buy at any station.  Boston's MBTA also offers a monthly pass that you can buy at any station.  San Francisco's MUNI offers a monthly pass that can be bought at 80% of their stations.  Why is the CTA lacking in this department?  If I rode the CTA enough to warrant buying a monthly pass, I wouldn't want to go to a currency exchange to buy one.  Little things like this, discourage riders and therefore make the CTA less profitable.  In addition, I guarantee you that most Chicagoans don't even know that the CTA offers a 30-day pass.  If they marketed their pass and sold it at every station, I'd put money down that they'd sell more.


Livable cities need efficient, profitable, and most importantly, convenient public transportation.  At this point, the CTA is none of the above.  If they don't get their act together soon, Chicago could become the next Los Angeles: the land of many cars and of 10 hour traffic.


Share the Road...you too Cyclists

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.


Share The Road


If a livable city is one where cars are not essential, then a livable city is also one where bikes become more the norm.  The bike community is big in Chicago, but some in the current bike community are not helping it to get bigger.  I fully support all the "Share the Road" stickers I see around Chicago, but I do not think those flaunting their stickers always understand the meaning of the word "share."  As we learned in kindergarten, sharing means the desired "thing" is to be fairly used by all parties involved.  Both drivers and cyclists use the city streets, yet both parties act as if they deserve the right of way.  As much as I wish it were different, the angrier the bikers get that the roads aren't shared, and the more they try to disregard the cars, the less likely that their goals of a more bike friendly city will be accomplished.


I am a cyclist.  I ride to work, I have worked with bikes, and I support biking in Chicago.  However, a few things need to take place before this city is truly a great biking city, and that starts with strengthening the rapport between cars and bikes.  Drivers in Chicago hate the cyclists, and vise versa.  The first way to fix this, which won't make me many friends, is to eliminate Critical Mass.  As much fun as it may be, I don't think it's helping the cause.  Every time I've participated in this ride, I see physical fights break out between a cyclist and a driver who is forced to wait fifteen minutes for the "critical mass" to pass.  Cops see these fights and take note, but more importantly the alderman to whom the driver complains, also takes note.  Angering cops is never a good idea, but angering aldermen, who have relationships with Chicago legislators, is even worse.  


The percentage of commuters on bikes is also important to discuss; let's use the example of Portland, OR, voted as one of the top bike cities in the country.  Even in Portland, only about 6 percent of the population commutes by bike (here is an Oregonian article that discusses bike commuting in Portland).  This number grows every year, but even if it quadruples in the next 5 years to 24 percent, cyclists are still the minority.  While this concept might not resonate well with cyclists, it needs to.  The majority always wins, and while I am not suggesting that the bike community backs off and stops fighting for their cause (far from it), I just think they need to pick their battles.  The fight that I speak of needs to be the fight for rights, recognition, more bike lanes, etc., instead of a fight specifically against the drivers.


In addition, if cyclists want to "share the road" and get recognition as a means of transportation, then the city needs to begin regulating bikes like other forms of transportation.  Just as when a car disobeys a traffic law it receives a fine, bikes must be held to the same principle. The ticket prices do not need to equal those of cars, but the threat of a ticket might deter cyclists from their aggressive riding style of running red lights, and weaving in and out of traffic.


I believe that if the cycling community sees more enforcement and regulation, and if we cut Critical Mass, the drivers will not purposely try to hit them.  If bikes no longer play the roll of daredevil on the streets, the drivers will be more understanding, more responsive, and more tolerant of them.  This is a win-win for the bike community.  It's all about relationship building.  The better the relationship between drivers and cyclists, the less often drivers complain, and the greater the likelihood that the roads really will be shared.  Daley is eager to make this a better city for bikes, but until he gets more approval from the driving majority, it's only the cyclists who will suffer. 


Environmental Determinism in Chicago (Part II - The Built Environment)

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

When it comes to the kinds of land-use changes necessary to promote livability in Chicago, there are two main obstacles greater than our city's propensity for cynicism and its forbearer, corruption: the natural and built environments.  In the Part I, I covered Chicago's natural geography.  Next up: the built environment.  The built environment we see today is the result of over 170 years of decisions by private citizens and the municipal government--some coordinated and well thought-out, some not.  Just as the natural environment was easily understood as the combination of three distinct types, we can split up the man-made city that surrounds us into  roads, railways, and buildings.  Some of the built environment works to Chicago's advantage, some of it to the city's detriment.

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All the pieces fit together. Image courtesy of subbu4 on flickr

Roads
For more than a century, Chicago's famous street grid has primed it for walkable development.  I won't recount Jane Jacobs' entire argument for why short blocks improve the cityscape, but briefly, if you're walking somewhere that isn't simply down the street a few blocks, every corner you reach gives you the opportunity to turn and encounter a different micro-neighborhood, a different set of retailers, and different people.  This makes streets and sidewalks more exciting, provides for more commercial opportunities, and generally adds to the vibrancy of a city.

Unfortunately, we also have highways carving up the streetscape.  I'm not going to say that we should get rid of highways--they serve their purpose.  However, there's a point at which they do more harm than good, and that point usually comes where there is or could be a perfectly good urban neighborhood which is instead cut to shreds by 8 lanes of speeding metal.  The best (worst?) current examples of this are the Kennedy south of Belmont and the Stevenson between the Dan Ryan and Lake Shore Drive.  The Kennedy because it creates a no man's land just west of the North Branch of the Chicago River--as I mentioned in part I, some re-zoning around the river would be necessary to really take advantage of this space--and the Stevenson because of the way it chokes off the Near South Side from Douglas.  (Compare this with how the Kennedy feeds into Ohio and the upcoming Congress Parkway redesign resist isolating the Loop further.)

Railways
Chicago was built on the back of the railroad boom in the 19th century, and the remnants of this history still shape our city in significant ways.  From the enormous Belt Railway Company Yard south of Midway to Canada Pacific's stagnant Bloomingdale Trail and the numerous Metra lines, rail rights-of-way take up significant real estate.  The CREATE Program will clear up some of the bottlenecks that come with this level of complex infrastructure, but by and large railroads are simply something we have to work with and around in order to have a growing economy.  There is also, of course, the L, maybe the defining characteristic of the Chicago built environment (along with the Sears Tower.)  We'll have plenty more to say about the L, as it's just as vital a part of the people economy in Chicago as the freight lines are to our local industry.

Buildings
Between the loop's skyscrapers and the familiar brownstones throughout the city, much of the city is built up nicely.  It allows for a wide variation in densities, from the incredible diversity of the areas around the Loop, to the almost suburban single family homes in Sauganash.  But there's also plenty of opportunity for urban infill, especially where surface parking has blighted the land around L stops.  There's no reason why the same 3- and 4-story mixed use development which has spurred non-bubble growth in many American cities in the last decade can't be replicated along various corridors here.  Developers are finally coming around to the economic merits of this type of construction, but it's up to the city to meet them halfway in terms of up-zoning areas which are well-served by transit so they can start building in a more economically and environmentally sustainable way.

Environmental Determinism in Chicago (Part I - Natural Geography)

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

When it comes to the kinds of land-use changes necessary to promote livability in Chicago, there are two main obstacles greater than our city's propensity for cynicism and its forbearer, corruption: the natural and built environments.  Since it came first, I'd like to look first at the geography that has both made Chicago great, but which can also hold it back if we don't harness it well.  There are three main pieces to this puzzle: The Land, The Lake, and The River.  We use all three, but it's important to understand how they've combined to make Chicago what it is.

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Lots of flat land, plenty of fresh water. Photo by the author.

The Land
You don't have to go far to see what sort of hearty Midwestern land Chicago's built on.  There's the forest preserve running along the Des Plaines River, or if you go far enough west it's beautiful, flat prairie as far as the eye can see.  So unlike a lot of places (i.e. San Francisco's narrow peninsula and New York's islands) our growth--westward, at least--is unconstrained.  We've never been worried about a lack of land.  But this also works against us, because it's so easy to sprawl out--as we have for the past 50 years.

So we're left to work against our lazier impulses to fill in the gaps between our neighborhoods and re-stitch our urban fabric.  Fortunately, our urban prairie is flat as a pancake, and that's great news when we want to get around without the help of an internal combustion engine.   Our travels are the same in every direction.  There's no rough uphill commute in the morning, and no reason to shift gears when we bike home after a long day.

The Lake
Perhaps Chicago's greatest asset, Lake Michigan does a few wonderful things for us.  It tempers our climate (this weekend it'll be "cooler by the lake" for the first time this year,) and quenches our almost insatiable thirst.  It is a main attraction for both locals and tourists, whether for swimming, sailing, or anything else.  Last but certainly not least, it is also an easy-to-use, massively obvious wayfinding point--the Lake is always east.  This is no small matter, as it makes getting around the city easier, encouraging Chicagoans and tourists alike to get out and see the city more.

As wonderful as Lake Michigan is, it has also skewed our growth.  Just as development around individual train stations is often lopsided due to "wrong side of the tracks" disease, Chicago's development as a whole is lopsided because of Lake Michigan.  The Lake pushes our development north, west, and south from The Loop, which is most clearly visible in our rail map: where other cities develop robust networks  we're left with a hub-and-spokes.

The River
Finally, there is the Chicago River, that magically backward-flowing stream that comes close to splitting the city into its famous "sides."  In the River's fork and different responses to it throughout the city, we can start to get a feel for where Chicago has gone wrong and also how easy it would be to go right.

First, the Main Branch.  With its narrow riverbed and frequent bridges, it's an urban river in the Seine model.  Even with the frequent, walkable bridges, it's still a natural border that makes River North a much different beast than the Loop itself.  It also serves as a chokepoint for vehicular traffic, so it's not surprising that transit from the North Side is successful.  The new Riverfront Plan is a gem and should it ever be completed all the way to the confluence, it'll become as much a Place (capital P) as the lakefront is now.

Then there's the North Branch, a giant wasted opportunity.  From the Confluence all the way up to Belmont, it's still a narrow, albeit meandering, easily bridgeable river.  But unlike the Main Branch (or the northern segment of the South Branch, as I'll get into shortly) there's no attempt to tie the two sides of the river together.  This is partly a function of zoning: a lot of this area is zoned for manufacturing, which only works with walkable growth through hard work.  But that's exactly the point: There's no geographic reason why the River-centric development has to be confined to the area between Kinzie and Congress.

And what of the South Branch? There are three main parts of it: part well-used, part of it reclaimable, part of it given over to industry.* From the Confluence to Congress, it's walkable like the Main Branch, but without the River Walk.  The West Loop's resurgence is living proof of this.  And even though nothing about the river itself changes south of Congress, it reverts to a strong border, with crossings only at Harrison and Roosevelt.  As with the North branch, a lot of this has to do with the zoned uses around the river, but again, that's just the point: the Chicago River--like the rest of Chicago's natural geography--is not some untamable beast.  We can use the river just as readily to improve the cityscape as we can to ruin it.

Come back for Part II tomorrow...

*Note: this is not a swipe at industry along the River.  To the contrary, it is vital to the municipal and regional economies.  And unlike the North Branch, where development could be realigned toward integration with the surrounding livable neighborhoods, heavy industrial uses do not offer the same opportunity along the South Branch.

On Density in Chicago

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

Density.  Without it, a city is no longer a city, an engine of growth for the entire nation.  Jane Jacobs understood this back in 1961 as America began a half-century slide away from it.  Tourists instinctively get it when they visit--they come for the "energy" and the "excitement," not the weather.  And if you want to get all pointy-headed about it, you could even say that "agglomeration raises per capita consumption growth"

So now that we're agreed on the advantages of this nebulous "density" concept, the question remains: density of what? Grocery stores? Bars? 16" softball diamonds? Those are all well and good, but without people, the groceries go sour, kegs sit untapped, and infields are given over to weeds.  So, we certainly need a critical mass of people.  Chicago has that in spades, as the 5th most dense metro area in the country by population.  We've got density of jobs, too: more than 471 per square mile (compare to 538 for the DC area and 318 for the Dallas area,) employing not just Chicagoans but our suburban and exurban brethren as well.  There's both transit density--nearly 2,300 miles of bus routes and 222 of L track for our 606 square miles--and parking density--we have about 36,500 metered spaces alone inside the city limits.

But again, while each of these specific types of density is necessary for a working city, no single one is sufficient.  And one of the things we have to be careful of as a city is that we're matching all these different densities with each other in a way that makes Chicago more livable.  For instance: does putting an L station in a highway median encourage growth if no one can live or work within 200 meters of the station? (hint: not really.) Or: how many parking spaces should a high-rise condo building in the South Loop have in its garage? What about a medium-rise in Rogers Park?  I'll explore these ideas more in the weeks and months ahead, but for now it's worth recognizing that nearly 3 million people (and growing every day) live on this little slice of land next to Lake Michigan, and it's up to us how well we share it.
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Infographic by Shane Keaney for good.is


Bonus!
Last week, this image was floating around the internet.  While no one is suggesting we all get together and live in a neighborhood as tightly-knit as Brooklyn, it's a good thought experiment.  But Brooklyn has a density of 34,917 people per square mile, almost triple Chicago's 12,649.  At Chicago's density, the entire country could fit snugly into West Virginia.  Or, if we wanted to spread out a little more and have a coastline, we could use South Carolina.  So who wants to trade blizzards for hurricanes?

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