Chicago Loop Alliance announces the return of Sundays on State events

Sundays on State on the Chicago Theater marquee (date on the sign is from 2021).
Sundays on State on the Chicago Theater marquee (date on the sign is from 2021). Photo: Andy Marfia

At their annual meeting last Thursday, the Chicago Loop Alliance announced the member organization’s plans for the year ahead, including the return of popular public programming like Sundays on State and the revival of pre-pandemic alley-arts project ACTIVATE. (The Chicago Loop Alliance is one of the city’s many “Special Service Area” managers, which use a small amount of property tax dollars to produce events and promote businesses in their area.)

In response to the lingering pandemic last summer, CLA closed State Street to vehicle traffic from Lake to Madison for eight Sundays, hosting a series of block parties with performances, fitness classes, kid-friendly activities, expanded outdoor dining for restaurants and open-air vending for small businesses. The event series turned out to be a highlight of free public programming in 2021, drawing thousands from all corners of the city and, according to CLA’s pedestrian counting system, returning the number of visitors downtown to and above pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

According to the press release, the Sundays on State will expand in 2022. No dates and street closure details have been announced yet, but we hope the larger vision includes fully pedestrianizing the festival footprint. In its first year, the party was carved up by cross traffic at Randolph, Washington and Madison. Streetsblog continues to encourage CLA – and the City of Chicago, which must sign off on CLA’s proposal – to prioritize the participating artists, small businesses and attendees over cars by fully closing the Sundays on State stretch of roadway to vehicles during the event—as street festivals in neighborhoods across the city have successfully done for years.

CLA also announced the reboot of ACTIVATE, a one-day event that filled alleys in the Loop with art, music and performances; date and details to be announced.

Also noteworthy was CLA’s announcement that they will recommence the Elevate State corridor planning project which, due to the centrality of community input to the process, was tabled during the worst of the pandemic. Elevate State was first announced in February 2020.

The plan roadmap is divided up into three categories—place, mobility and market—each led by a different consulting group. The mobility category will be led by Arup, the design firm behind the transformation of an industrial area in Long Island City into an 11-acre park and the first Shared Street in Brooklyn. Streetsblog will follow the Elevate State planning process with close attention to the Mobility priorities of biking, walking and transit; ride hail and parking; and pedway.

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