Take a Virtual Spin on the Argyle Shared Street, Now Fully Open to Traffic

The Argyle Shared Street, a project to create a safer and more pleasant environment on Chicago’s Southeast Asian shopping and dining strip by blurring the lines between pedestrian and vehicle space, reopened to two-way traffic last week.

The $3 million project involved raising the level of the street, eliminating curbs, and adding decorative pavers with a design that encourages shopper to freely travel across the street. Sidewalks have been widened to accommodate more foot traffic and sidewalk cafes, and the roadway has also become fully wheelchair accessible.

A new ordinance makes it legal to cross the street outside of a crosswalk on the Argyle Shared Street. Photo: John Greenfield

There’s still a bit of paving left to be completed, as well as some finishing touches such as adding landscaping to the infiltration planters and adding decorative covers to the steel-and-concrete bollards that help keep cars off the sidewalks. But last Thursday 48th Ward alderman Harry Osterman held a short parade and ribbon on the street as part of the final Argyle Night Market event.

There’s an area at Winthrop Avenue that’s still fenced off for paver installation, which creates a bottleneck on the street. These bollards will get more attractive coverings. Photo: John Greenfield

There’s going to be a learning curve as various road users get accustomed to the new street layout. Although the street has been returned to two-way traffic, for the most part I only saw eastbound traffic, and all parked vehicles, on both sides of the street, were facing east. Drivers also seem unsure of what part of the street two park on in some sections of the streetscape, but that confusion will likely be cleared up as more visual cues are added.

Have you checked out the shared street yet? Tell us what you think of it in the comments section.

  • Just took a night time spin. People are definitely not sure where they can park. I’m hoping that Alderman Osterman lets things evolve before going all law and order on us. Hopefully there will be a tug of war between the merchants and parkers and pedestrians over the ambiguous spaces.

    For some nighttime pictures and more commentary I decided to go ahead and post a blog entry here –> http://edgewaterobserver.blogspot.com/2016/08/new-argyle-explained.html

    I explain the different color pavers and lines that go into creating the fun ambiguity.

  • Took a spin by in the rain. No large puddles anywhere. The planters appear to be intended as storm water catch basins.

  • Its lookin’ good…mighty good!

  • Do you know off-hand if any or what signage is going to be installed?

  • Ryan

    It’d be better with out all the cars

  • Argyle street is going to resemble an outdoor art gallery as well in the months ahead. The street really is the best thing happening in Uptown, for artissts no less.

    New artist in the window next to BIG Chicks….SW corner of Sheridan Argyle is next, will include this one. Nearly finished in the photo, only missing the rail lines.

  • Maybe. With the blurring of the lines of where the sidewalk ends and the street begins there is a chance for a tug-of-war to develop. If the merchants create the draw and people begin to walk up and down, which is different than someone grabbing the nearest parking for an in and out, then the crowds bring out more merchandise onto the sidewalk pushing the walkers more onto the street crowding the cars off the street. Eventually such a dynamic in theory could create a de-facto pedestrian mall.

    And yet I remember the old Maxwell street market. Blocks of vendors shoved the cars out of the parking spaces where they displayed their wares. The streets ram-packed with shoppers and gawkers. A de-facto pedestrian mall for blocks on Sunday mornings. Yet still there would be cars jamming themselves into the crowd and actually driving more slowly than the pedestrians that swarmed around them were walking, no strolling really, that slow. They were either stupid or had a really important reason to choose to try to brave going down the street on one of those mornings.

  • akrillx

    is the $260K ‘Asia on Argyle’ Sign not enough.
    sorry but i think they blew the signage budget with that one sign.

  • duppie

    Is this a one-way street now?

  • ChicagoBicyclist

    Where are the TREES as shown — very abundantly — in all the renderings? How many “shared street” trees will there be in total, when the project is done/built?

  • Bernard Finucane

    I guess they’ll get planted last.

  • No its two-way. The cars are just parked like that because it just switched over.

  • I was just thinking about the regular “No Parking” signs you see elssewhere. Also…assuming the dreaded parking meter deal machines return those green parking signs too.

  • tooter turtle

    In spite of signage, drivers have not yet understood that two way traffic is now allowed.

  • tooter turtle

    Now a week after the street was re-opened to two way traffic, drivers still haven’t figured it out. They don’t understand where to park, and they only drive eastbound. This is not all bad, as the incorrect and double and triple parking really slow the cars down. I wonder how long it will take drivers to understand the pavement markings. Maybe 5 years?

  • 6 days later….this is still true…parking the wrong way….strange.

  • I’d rather have confused drivers avoiding a few-blocks stretch of street than confused pedestrians afraid to walk somewhere with lots of businesses.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    As an aside, I’ve heard that in New Orleans people will grab a parking spot on the opposite site of the street that they’re driving on without bothering to do a U-turn, etc. Therefore, on a two-way street you’ll see parked cars facing west next to the eastbound lane.

  • Ha…I used to do that in New Orleans…considered it a perk.


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