Dear Chicago: Rebuild our historic commercial streets

Urban planner says every neighborhood needs its own Loop.

March 15, 2011

If the Loop is Chicago’s economic engine, architect David Walker wants to make sure there’s a miniature version of the bustling commercial and retail hub in every city neighborhood. Walker works on planning projects that are rooted in community development and thinks deeply about the best ways to sustain Chicago’s neighborhoods. He’s especially concerned with the well-being of Woodlawn, the South Side neighborhood where he lives and owns a home.

Some city neighborhoods have economic engines roaring full speed ahead. Lincoln Park has Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street; Pilsen has 18th St. and Little Village has 26th St. On these stretches shoppers find the kinds of stores, services and restaurants that sustain a neighborhood and make it possible to shop without leaving the community. But in Woodlawn, as in many parts of the city’s South and West Sides, historic commercial corridors have fallen into disrepair or they are shadows of their former selves.

Here, Walker explains why he wants Chicago’s new mayor and city council to make rebuilding the city’s historic commercial streets a priority.

 
Dear Chicago is a project of WBEZ’s Partnerships Program. David Walker was nominated for the series by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.