The Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) is soliciting ideas for how to improve pedestrian experience along the iconic core of Wabash Avenue. The "Transforming Wabash Avenue" brainstorm has a user-friendly platform in website Civic ArtWorks, permitting almost as many prank submissions as serious ones. Still, when city planning and beautifying is this fun and interative you have to feel like our democracy might not be in the toilet. Marina City Online's Steven Dahlman writes that CLA is continuing to stump for new submissions, perhaps afraid it'll be forced to work with an overwhelmingly lighthearted crop. Among the ideas already submitted, sober standouts include a high line-like repurposing of soon-to-be disused stations; a permanent LED light show; installing more sculpture; and energizing connections to Wabash. Candidates for most inane/awesome should include a proposal for a "hanging gardens of Wabash" that would completely obscure elevated tracks; the cobblestoning of Wabash; making a roller coaster of the "L"; and morphing Wabash into a "speed dating chain" synched with passing trains.
CLA director Michael Edwards wants something innovative, but also workable. In a missive to downtown organizations, he writes: "Wabash Avenue is a transformational opportunity waiting to happen. Located between a vibrant State Street and the famous Michigan Avenue, Wabash Avenue has its own unique character that can be enhanced to make it a Loop attraction." Enhanced is the key word here, as it's very unlikely CLA set out to revolutionize the streetscape.
·What to do about Wabash? [Marina City Online]
·Transforming Wabash Avenue [Civic ArtWorks]