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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 9:15 AM
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10023's "Why can't Chicago be London" whine festival

Separately, can we talk about the massive fuck up in urban planning that is the lack of a pedestrian corridor to Ogden Slip?

The low rise portions of the NBC tower and the Loews Hotel building (the bit with their amenity deck on the roof) should never have been allowed. They should be demo’d now.

You’d have a pedestrian corridor extending from Michigan Avenue (Pioneer Court) to Ogden Slip (and the Spire site) that could be one of the great public spaces in the city. Instead people have to walk along Illinois Street, which is a multi-grade disaster lined with absolute shit (loading bays, blank walls, no retail/restaurants), and will never be an inviting pedestrian experience.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 1:25 PM
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^Who would use such a pointless passageway? Lost tourists? Muggers waiting for lost tourists?

The River Esplanade is only 400 feet to the south; Illinois Street, fronted by buildings and retail shops in the proper urban manner, is 250 feet to the north. Urban pedestrians only feel safe when they perceive that a route is somehow in the view of others, like adjacent motorists. A pedestrian-only route that tucks in between blank walls and loading docks ignores everything we know about city-building.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 1:34 PM
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^Who would use such a pointless passageway? Lost tourists? Muggers waiting for lost tourists?

The River Esplanade is only 400 feet to the south; Illinois Street, fronted by buildings and retail shops in the proper urban manner, is 250 feet to the north. Urban pedestrians only feel safe when they perceive that a route is somehow in the view of others, like adjacent motorists. A pedestrian-only route that tucks in between blank walls and loading docks ignores everything we know about city-building.
Not to get too off topic, but Ogden Slip is one of my favorite "hidden gems" in the city. It's quiet and I fish there when nothing is biting on the river. Additionally, today, tourists can walk along Ogden Slip all the way to Navy Pier (and the water taxis that dock there). I do think Ogden Slip is underutilized and my first thought when I heard about a new tower at this site is maybe the slip will get some activation.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 4:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
Separately, can we talk about the massive fuck up in urban planning that is the lack of a pedestrian corridor to Ogden Slip?

The low rise portions of the NBC tower and the Loews Hotel building (the bit with their amenity deck on the roof) should never have been allowed. They should be demo’d now.

You’d have a pedestrian corridor extending from Michigan Avenue (Pioneer Court) to Ogden Slip (and the Spire site) that could be one of the great public spaces in the city. Instead people have to walk along Illinois Street, which is a multi-grade disaster lined with absolute shit (loading bays, blank walls, no retail/restaurants), and will never be an inviting pedestrian experience.
No we can't because that is not the purpose of this thread. Beside that point, your lack of knowledge of Chicago in its modern setting has grown more and more glaring as you comment more frequently. You are more of a Londoner than a Chicagoan at this point. Illinois has restaurants on it... immediately comes to mind is Star of Siam. Additionally, the truck bays and underbelliness that is that stetch of road isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just because the city hasn't made every single road into Disneyland's Main Street friendly atmosphere, doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Additionally, your lack of historical context on what made this area so pedestrian unfriendly is even more jarring. Streeterville in that area was a no-man's land at all hours of the day during the 80s and 90s and only recently has become somewhere that people will be seen walking about after 5pm in large numbers. To ask developers to build things like the NBC Tower or Sheraton in a pedestrian friendly manner when they had no one but the people in their building walking there would have been a financial boondoggle

I'd also like to just add one other point. The stretch to Ogden isn't bad... a bit quiet and with very little retail in certain parts? Sure, but I don't see why you would want that type of urban planning anyway
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 4:25 PM
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^Who would use such a pointless passageway? Lost tourists? Muggers waiting for lost tourists?

The River Esplanade is only 400 feet to the south; Illinois Street, fronted by buildings and retail shops in the proper urban manner, is 250 feet to the north. Urban pedestrians only feel safe when they perceive that a route is somehow in the view of others, like adjacent motorists. A pedestrian-only route that tucks in between blank walls and loading docks ignores everything we know about city-building.
Illinois has definitely improved with the addition of Target, Whole Foods, etc.

But to me Cityfront Plaza is way too sterile.

In hindsight, I think the city would have been better off if it had not approved the construction of Cityfront Plaza and left Illinois like Grand with only a ground level street.

The Tribune Tower Addition at least tries to brighten up Illinois immediately east of Michigan, but it's a bit of a lost cause IMHO
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 6:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Kumdogmillionaire View Post
No we can't because that is not the purpose of this thread. Beside that point, your lack of knowledge of Chicago in its modern setting has grown more and more glaring as you comment more frequently. You are more of a Londoner than a Chicagoan at this point. Illinois has restaurants on it... immediately comes to mind is Star of Siam. Additionally, the truck bays and underbelliness that is that stetch of road isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just because the city hasn't made every single road into Disneyland's Main Street friendly atmosphere, doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Additionally, your lack of historical context on what made this area so pedestrian unfriendly is even more jarring. Streeterville in that area was a no-man's land at all hours of the day during the 80s and 90s and only recently has become somewhere that people will be seen walking about after 5pm in large numbers. To ask developers to build things like the NBC Tower or Sheraton in a pedestrian friendly manner when they had no one but the people in their building walking there would have been a financial boondoggle

I'd also like to just add one other point. The stretch to Ogden isn't bad... a bit quiet and with very little retail in certain parts? Sure, but I don't see why you would want that type of urban planning anyway
I have eaten at Star of Siam a dozen times. It was one of my dad’s favorite places for lunch. I’ve actually eaten there since I moved to London, on one of my 2-3 annual visits to Chicago. It’s west of Michigan Ave, across from the AMA building. Always has been.

I’m talking about the Streeterville portion, that tourists take to reach Navy Pier from Michigan Ave. I’ve also been to that AMC movie theater. But there’s nothing appealing about that stretch of Illinois.

The one thing that living in London for 5 years has taught me, is that they are way better at this kind of stuff in Europe.

And what is the point of a thread about “general development” if not this?

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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
^Who would use such a pointless passageway? Lost tourists? Muggers waiting for lost tourists?

The River Esplanade is only 400 feet to the south; Illinois Street, fronted by buildings and retail shops in the proper urban manner, is 250 feet to the north. Urban pedestrians only feel safe when they perceive that a route is somehow in the view of others, like adjacent motorists. A pedestrian-only route that tucks in between blank walls and loading docks ignores everything we know about city-building.
400 feet is a long way in an urban, pedestrian context. You see pedestrianized shopping streets separated from major traffic arteries by half that distance over here. That’s fine-grained urbanism.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 6:36 PM
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The one thing that living in London for 5 years has taught me, is that they are way better at this kind of stuff in Europe.
.
One thing that your 5 years living in London hasn’t taught you is, nobody in Chicago gives a fuck what London does. Different city. Different country. Different Government. London is stupid.

But you like it more, so it’s best you stay there.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 6:41 PM
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One thing that your 5 years living in London hasn’t taught you is, nobody in Chicago gives a fuck what London does. Different city. Different country. Different Government. London is stupid.

But you like it more, so it’s best you stay there.
This is an extremely ignorant response. There is real value in taking best practice from other places and applying them at home.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2018, 7:34 PM
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I vote to sticky this thread
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2018, 9:06 PM
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I'm gonna take an unpopular position and agree with 10023... why preserve a view corridor if you can't also move along the same corridor? Unfortunately, it seems like the original master plan only made a weak commitment to this goal.


Looking at the original plans for Cityfront Center is instructive... originally Ogden Slip extended west a few hundred feet to Columbus Drive (which was brand-new in 1982). The developers of Cityfront Center filled in the western third of the slip, both to create bigger development parcels and so that McClurg and other streets could be extended through without bridges. Harry Weese thought the slip should be preserved in its entirety, but lost an initiative to get it added to the National Register.

It seems like the original master plan for Cityfront Center at least anticipated a pedestrian way from Columbus Drive to the (new, truncated) end of Ogden Slip at McClurg, replacing the filled-in canal, and maybe extending westward as well to connect to Pioneer Court. Also, the pedestrian way was not intended to necessarily be an open air passage, the planners expected some kind of winter garden or office lobby would provide a connection through the Loews parcel and possibly the NBC parcel, like some of the great through-block lobbies from the 1930s in the Loop. The condo building at 440 N McClurg was even built with a grand staircase, fully in line with the vision.

Unfortunately, once the NBC Tower was built, it permanently sank the possibility of a continuous connection from Michigan Ave to the lakefront along Ogden Slip. Its design did put an building entrance on this axis facing west, and placed a low-rise annex in the view corridor, but didn't create that through-block connection that the planners were hoping for. CDOT probably didn't help things by making Columbus Drive a massive six-lane auto sewer - especially in the 1980s, they probably would have frowned on a mid-block crossing between Illinois and South Water, especially one intended to serve pedestrians only.



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Last edited by ardecila; Apr 21, 2018 at 9:33 PM.
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Old Posted Apr 21, 2018, 9:28 PM
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^ Looks like the view corridor for the Tribune Tower to the lake was enacted at some point after this draft for Cityfront Center.

While I assume the new buildings to be developed are in white and existing buildings shaded in gray, there are a number of buildings that don't currently exist that are shaded as such... like the building on the lot north of NBC tower, as well as on the lot immediately east of the Tribune, and the one immediately west of the Sheraton Hotel, among others. Not sure what to make of that. Perhaps they were proposals of a different project and thus not highlighted here?

Currently, the easiest way for pedestrians to get between Michigan Ave and Navy Pier is Illinois St. The city should work on making that route more pedestrian friendly... widen sidewalks, offering tourist information and helpful signage, and promoting retail along that stretch to make it more inviting on the street level.
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Old Posted Apr 21, 2018, 9:40 PM
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^ Not at all, the view corridor is the whole purpose of the first image. You can see the Tribune Tower dead center.

I think the gray/white color scheme has to do with the corporate structure of Cityfront Center. It was a joint venture between the Equitable Life Assurance Society which controlled land west of Columbus, and the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust which controlled land east of Columbus. Presumably the model in the photo was used for the Dock and Canal Trust, so the relevant development sites were shown in white.

The two companies jointly commissioned a master plan and helped pay for new infrastructure, but they ultimately developed the buildings themselves separately, and sold off individual parcels to various developers. That, plus the economic cycle, is why that area got developed in such a piecemeal fashion. Ultimately I think it's a positive that we didn't end up with a forest of early 90s postmodern towers there, the area contains quite a few architectural duds but at least there's a ton of diverse styles and approaches, the city fabric is more robust.
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