Eyes on the Street: Chicago’s Newest – And Nicest? – People Spot

Photo: John Greenfield
Photo: John Greenfield

Chicago’s “People Spot” mini-parks (known as “parklets” in other cities) help make retail strips more vibrant by repurposing asphalt for motor vehicles, such as parking spaces and loading zones, to create space for people to eat, drink, work, and relax. And they seem to provide a shot in the arm for local commerce – a 2014 Metropolitan Planning Council study found that 80 percent of nearby merchants felt that the presence of a People Spot brought them more foot traffic and customers.

So Chicago’s newest parklet in front of Intelligentsia Coffee, 2642 North Milwaukee, and adjacent to the Logan Theater, is a great addition to the neighborhood. It was brainstormed by the local architecture firm Moss Design, which also created an Andersonville People Spot that was made of wood salvaged by the Rebuilding Exchange.

Photo: John Greenfield
Photo: John Greenfield

There’s a lot to like about the new Logan parklet, an angular design with an aluminum frame and cedar decking, which was fabricated by Standard & Custom. While it provides extra café seating for customers at the compact coffee shop via red metal tables and chairs, anyone can use the space. There’s a desk-like space that’s ideal for laptopping (as you can see from these photos), plus additional wooden bench-like seating.

The zig-zag profile of the aluminum wall that faces the street allows People Spot users and road users to see each other. Planters full of native grasses help soften the jagged space. And metal support struts at the north end of the parklet double as bike parking. The space already seems to be a hit with the afternoon café crowd, and it will be an ideal place to kill time before a flick at the theater on beautiful summer nights.

Photo: John Greenfield
Photo: John Greenfield

This People Spot replaced a couple of metered parking spaces so, as required by the city’s despised parking contract, the concessionaire is being compensated with new metered spots elsewhere in the 35th Ward, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey.

Claffey added that CDOT does not have a final list of locations for 2017 as they are still going through the approval process for some locations. But the following other the People Spots permitted to date:

Photo: John Greenfield
Photo: John Greenfield
  • 4034 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Portage Park
  • 2860 N. Clark St. in Lakeview East
  • 2942 N. Clark St. Lakeview East

Hopefully more parklets will be approved soon, so more communities can reap the benefits of swapping blacktop for hangout space.


  • JeBuS

    Couldn’t they have the lower end facing the other way, rather than being a nice metal decapitation device in the event of a biking accident?

  • ohsweetnothing

    Huge improvement over the tiny sidewalk “cafe” that was previously there.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Yes, and it borders on insanity to think that parking is a better use for this space. Do these people park their cars in their kitchens?


The Case of the Missing Andersonville “People Spots”

[This article also runs in Checkerboard City, John’s transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.] As the Tribune’s Blair Kamin recently pointed out, it’s embarrassing that San Francisco will soon have more than eighty “parklets”—parking-lane space repurposed as picturesque seating areas—while our much-larger city only has a handful of them. Dubbed “People […]