Eyes on the street: Despite the rain, plenty of people attended the first Sundays on State

A few folks enjoying the seating area along State St. A few vendor tents are in the background.
A few folks enjoying the seating area along State St. A few vendor tents are in the background.

On Sunday the Chicago Loop Alliance held the first of several Sundays on State car-free events. The open streets series take place on State Street between Lake and Madison streets, with motorized cross traffic permitted on Washington and Randolph streets. Despite the rain, a decent amount of people showed up to take part in activities, check out the vendor tents, and grab a bite to eat.

I looked at the lineup schedule on the Chicago Loop Alliance website and was expecting to see musical performances. I saw workers on the stages and I assume they were in the process of being prepared for performers. I walked around to check out some of the vendors and to check out the crowd.

A barricade for Sundays on State. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
A barricade for Sundays on State. Photo: Courtney Cobbs

I struck up a conversation with a group visiting from Texas. One person said they were kind of bummed about the weather but they appreciated being able to “spread out” into the street. I asked if they had any suggestions on how the event could be improved. Another person suggested that holding giveaways on days with inclement weather would be a nice way to “reward” those who come out and brave the elements.

At an area with children’s entertainment, one father told me he lives downtown and was happy to see a child-friendly event being hosted there. 

A group of children play inside an enclosed play area as their parents observe. When I walked by, they were playing a game with a ball that necessitated an enclosed place.
A group of children play inside an enclosed play area as their parents watch. When I walked by, they were playing a game with a ball that necessitated an enclosed place.

The energy of the event felt a bit low. I’m going to chalk it up to a lack of music playing and the rainy weather. I would be open to checking out another Sunday on State when there’s sun and warmer temps.

However, I’m still annoyed that the event is not fully pedestrianized, but rather cross traffic is allowed to break up the car-free space. In order to potentially get more people on board with pedestrianization of some of our streets, we need to give them a complete car-free experience. I hope if the Chicago Loop Alliance continues this event next year they’ll push the city provide a fully pedestrianized event.

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