Eyes on the Street: A Wild Night for Chicago’s Public Spaces
Whether you’re a rabid Blackhawks fan or couldn’t care less about professional sports, Monday night was an unforgettable evening on the streets of Chicago — and on its newest bike and pedestrian paths.
The torrential rains wreaked havoc with the transportation network, flooding streets and viaducts all over the city, and forcing the closures of a section of the Eisenhower Expressway and some Kennedy Expressway offramps, DNAinfo reported. The CTA also temporarily shut down service on the Blue Line between Harlem and Forest Park in the western suburbs.
The severe weather also took its toll on the city’s newest places for walking and biking, the Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606, and the new Chicago Riverwalk sections, both of which opened within the last month. The elevated greenway was swamped with rain last night, and neighbors told DNA they feared runoff from the trail was doing damage to their homes. However, the path was largely dry by this morning.
It looks likes it’s going to be a longer cleanup process for the riverwalk. Just yesterday afternoon, when I checked out the newest section, dubbed The River Theater, it was a sparkling new jewel in Chicago’s collection of world-class public spaces. Sadly, when I dropped by on my way home in the early evening, the walkways around the bridge houses were completely flooded, and The River Theater, The Cove, and The Marina were caked with foul-smelling muck.
Workers were already out assessing the damage last night. “The Riverwalk is designed to withstand high water,” Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey told me earlier today. “That said, we are out there and beginning the cleanup this morning.”
On a more positive note, in the wake of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory, several streets were pedestrianized to make room for thousands of revelers. Madison in front of the United Center was closed to car traffic, as was a block of Hubbard between State and Dearborn in River North, by the Active Transportation Alliances offices.
In Lakeview, police pedestrianized a full mile of Clark between Belmont and Grace to make room for the massive crowds of mostly peaceful celebrants. While throngs of drunken hockey fans jamming the streets might not be everybody’s idea of a good time, it was refreshing to see the public way filled with people, rather than cars, for a change.