Parks + Emerald Necklaces
In the mid-1800s, Chicago developer John S. Wright proposed a system of boulevards to provide the city with a chain of parks and parkways. Today this 28-mile boulevard system, called the Emerald Necklace, encircles the center of the city with six squares and seven connected parks.
Although the boulevards were envisioned to embrace Lake Michigan at both ends, the Chicago Fire and other community and political issues halted the boulevard expansion to the lake on the north end.
Milwaukee Avenue, which crosses over Logan Boulevard and cuts through Logan Square was originally an Indian trail. Since the mid-1800s the avenue has grown into a major thoroughfare connecting the northwest side to downtown.
When the boulevard system was built traffic moving through the square was made up of horse and carriage. In 1895 the elevated train station was added in the neighborhood requiring paths for walking traffic, but very few changes have occurred to alter the flow of traffic through the square — even though vehicle speeds and the number of people moving through the square has changed drastically.
Making a Difference in Your Own Community
A discussion between concerned neighbors about the dangers associated with navigating Logan Square by car, bike or on foot, and how the square could be enhanced, turned into a impactful project that is under construction today — a great example of the power of community involvement.
United as a team of community activists, civil and traffic engineers, and architects the group began to implement traffic studies and design options for improvement. Several years of drawing revisions and meetings have turned into a master plan accepted by Aldermen, State Senators, City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Transportation.
The team's goal to improve safety, eliminate 1.6 acres of pavement, accommodate multi-modal transportation around the square, and address flooding has succeeded.
As one of the original creators of the plan, K+S' Don Semple is a stakeholder on the project acting as community design reviewer and representative. The main project is slated for construction in 2019 including rerouting major streets. The next step is to improve the Milwaukee train and bus stop.