Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Gifts to the street" make Lincoln Park neighborly and walkable

by Michelle Stenzel

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Once in a while, I read an article or blog post that really stays with me for a while. One of these was Steve Mouzon's post on his Original Green blog called "A Gift to the Street," in which he discusses how the walkability of a neighborhood is enhanced by neighborly features provided by the people who occupy residences or commercial buildings in the area:

There is no greater expression of neighborliness than showing kindness to someone you may never know. We can give gifts to strangers in person, of course, but our buildings can do it, too. Imagine what your neighborhood would be like if every home and shop gave a gift to the street! Wouldn’t it encourage you to walk more, where you could savor those gifts, rather than just zipping by in a car? 
For example, lovingly kept flower boxes provide color and a point of interest to people walking by, while a water fountain on the edge of a park allows people to refresh themselves. In his blog post, Steve provides various categories of "gifts", including gifts that delight, inform, entertain, and more. 

You may have noticed that Lincoln Park is full of these gifts! They make our neighborhood interesting and beautiful, and encourage us to walk. I appreciate the gifts immensely, and thought I'd share some of of my pictures of them with you. (Much more -->)

For the category of "Gifts that Delight," I think the most common are gardens and plantings. Some Lincoln Park residents have the luxury of a front garden:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Even when there's very little room in front, doors with an eye-catching color can be just as charming:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Art is always a welcome addition to a street view, as we covered in this prior post. The art might be modern:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Or the art might be traditional:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Sometimes homeowners build walls, and in effect turn away from the street completely. When we're walking on a sidewalk, a solid wall that blocks our view isn't usually very neighborly, like this one:


But if some texture is added, and some quirky sculptures, it's much more interesting:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
It's especially nice when there are "breaks" in a wall that allow brief glimpses into a garden or courtyard:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Another category of gifts is "Gifts to Help Them Remember" and I put historic plaques into this category. In Lincoln Park, we can see them on individual homes or public buildings, commemorating a person or event from the past:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Another  category is "A Place to Rest" and there are some of these gifts in Lincoln Park's residential areas, like this bench in front of St. James Church on Fremont:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
There are pocket parks scattered around that allow a quick place to to take a breather:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
And of course, we have far more public seating in the Lincoln-Park-the-park:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Retailers and shop owners can give gifts to the street. The most common one is an interesting store window that gives people something to look at as they pass by, or entices them to stop inside.

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
There are "Gifts that Refresh" in the form of sidewalk cafes, which we have by the dozen in Lincoln Park. But even when there's no room for a table and chairs, some shop owners offer "walk up" service, like the new doughnut shop on Armitage:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Dogs need refreshments, too! It's not unusual to see bowls of water set out in the summer time by shop owners, to allow our furry friends a chance to drink:

Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park
Chambers of commerce can give the gift of art, and when there are new sculptures every year, it's especially nice to receive them. 


To the left is the sculpture "Finish Line" by Terrence Karpowicz, seen on Diversey. It's in front of Next Door, which itself is a sort of gift to the neighborhood. State Farm insurance funds the operation of the Next Door storefront, and they do hold insurance- and finance-related seminars there for those interested, but the space is always open to the public as a coffee shop and as a comfortable -- and popular -- hang-out spot. Notice how Next Door has seating that faces the street, but doesn't block the sidewalk! That's another gift.


The beautiful piece on the right is "Astroterra" by Nicole Beck. 

All these pictures reflect an important part of what makes Lincoln Park walkable and livable. "Gifts to the Street" ultimately help us all choose to walk more in order to get to a destination, or just to enjoy the neighborhood, and that's good for our bodies and minds. 

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3 comments:

  1. What a great little primer on good urban design! The city ought to seek out the best "gifts to the street" and publish a guide for new residents and businesses.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of the best and most peaceful neighborhood that place is for a happy living.
    long stay parking stansted

    ReplyDelete