Gateway placement in Chicago's Loop

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"The Gateway, a colorful placemaking activation of a median in Chicago’s downtown Loop that invites visitors and residents to explore the vibrant business and cultural district. Located on State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive and conceptualized by CLA’s Placemaking Committee, the new public space is filled with bright blue and red canopied tables and chairs, flowerboxes, trees and banners welcoming pedestrians to the Loop. CLA will actively manage The Gateway with a cleaning team and support staff from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. each day through the end of September." (Press release/The Silverman Group Inc.)

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) was founded in 2005.  It was a merger between the Central Michigan Avenue Association and the Greater State Street Council. Both groups were notable Chicago institutions. They were formed by local businesses with the purpose of keeping the downtown area economically prosperous.

State Street, between Lake and Wacker, has been a dead zone for citizen activity and interaction for many years. It is a stretch where people enter or leave the Loop.

State Street at Wacker Drive is the north gateway to the Loop, hence the name of the placement. Historically, Lake Street was "That Great Street" before State Street. Most major Chicago businesses and manufacturers were located on Lake Street, as it was near the Chicago River. Businesses could receive and ship goods and wares easily. During the Civil War, Lake Street was a hub of prosperous economic activity. Chicago's Marshall Field opened his first eponymous store on Lake Street. Chicago businesses eventually moved to State Street as the city and their enterprises expanded.

Chicago has a history of using beautiful public spaces for people to recreate and socialize. It was part of the City Beautiful Movement, which originated in Chicago in the 1890s. Though the movement was more architectural in nature, it allowed for beautiful outdoor public spaces for people to enjoy.

The placement of the Gateway project makes the State Street median between Wacker Drive and Lake Street an oasis designed for people to congregate. Blue and red tables and chairs are spread out under the trees or surrounded by planters. People can sit, relax, eat, work, or socialize.

There are other dead spaces and medians in the downtown area. The Gateway could be the start of something new. Utilizing these dead spaces for people. The Loop and downtown area are not just places to go from point A to point B or to eat indoors. Public space, weather permitting, should be used for people to enjoy.

 

 

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