If I Ran the World: West 7th Street

If I ran the world, West 7th Street would be great. In addition to cool shops and bars, a long history, and excellent transit, West 7th Street would have a series of linear parks. Parks with benches. Parks with tables. Parks with trees. Anyone could walk or hop a street car from one cool shop to another and on to a historic brewery and enjoy safer intersections and trees and benches.

How? In my world, this would be super easy. West 7th Street is diagonal compared to the street grid. This is confusing at times, but offers a ton of possibilities. Currently, there are lots of intersections where three or more streets come together and form a mish-mash, zany intersection. Each of these is a traffic free-for-all where everyone just goes when they think they should as I stand there paralyzed as a pedestrian. Sometimes I idle there paralyzed in my car, and sometimes I am a zippy, annoying cyclist that people write letters to local papers about. Either way – it’s confusing.

It would be so much less confusing if there were fewer streets at intersections. Like two. Two streets should meet at an intersection. So, let’s take seven of the worst intersections and make the quietest street into a short, linear park. None of my seven have houses facing the short street. A few have commercial drive-ways that could be moved. At most three or four parking spaces would go away, but we would be walking so it wouldn’t matter.

Intersections that could be parks:

  • McBoal between West 7th Street and Smith Avenue (how about some tables for Bad Weather Brewing?)
  • Dousman Street between Goodrich Avenue and West 7th Street (Mancini’s has a HUGE parking lot anyway)
  • Ann Street between Goodhue Ave and Superior Street and West 7th Street
  • Western Avenue between Superior Street and West 7th Street and Michigan Street
  • Oneida Street between Jefferson Ave and West 7th Street
  • Osceola Avenue between Randolph Avenue and Juno Avenue and West 7th Street
  • Milton Street between Eleanor Avenue and West 7th Street and Otto Avenue

Now, let’s wave my magic wand and make it wonderful.

Already almost a park.

The little shoe repair place closed so maybe this all could be a park? I ask a lot.

Church parking access only, please.

I’m sure Chicago’s Taste Authority would LOVE some benches were people could enjoy some hot dogs.

It’s already practically a park. Seriously.

This would require moving the clinic’s parking entrance to Juno, but this is magic so that won’t be hard.

This is the bravest ask, but that SA parking lot is a hot mess.

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12 Responses to If I Ran the World: West 7th Street

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke January 25, 2018 at 10:11 am #

    Best idea I’ve seen yet! This should be pretty easy to do and people get more space for people. Also safety. A lot of safety.

  2. Andrea January 25, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

    Side effect of this post: DAMN that’s SOOOO MANY of empty surface parking lots right o West 7th frontage

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke January 25, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      The Mancini’s parking lot should get its own zip code.

      • molly quinn January 25, 2018 at 3:28 pm #

        I remember when they tore the building down to make the parking lot. It was incredibly sad for me because the back of the building was blue and blended into the sky in a lovely way. Now it is just a giant empty field of blacktop with a big old fence around it.

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke January 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm #

          I’ve chatted with others who remember that building. I have also heard that the permits were not approved for the demolition.

        • Linda Honan January 26, 2018 at 11:45 am #

          Do you have pictures? I’d love to see them.

  3. Janne January 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

    Minneapolis did this on Hennepin Avenue through Uptown long ago, and it’s great. It’s created more space for sidewalk cafes, more green and shade, and simpler intersections.

    For specific examples, check out the satalite view where Dupont and Emerson cross Hennepin for two examples, where you can see the green garden/plazas that were planted in the former extra intersection.


    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke January 25, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

      It’s also a lot like what is proposed for Lexington / W7th / Montreal, where Lexington is going to disappear and the intersection complexity will be greatly reduced.

  4. Linda Honan January 26, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

    I think you forgot the Bay Street /West 7th /Armstrong tangle. It is confusing and dangerous .

    • Dana DeMaster
      DanaD January 26, 2018 at 1:31 pm #

      Oh! I agree. I excluded that one though because I only included ones with no houses fronting the road. Bay Street between Randolph and Armstrong/West 7th would be great to close off, but it is lined with houses. Maybe Bay St from Armstrong/West 7th to Watson Avenue? My kids went to Sandcastle so I am VERY familiar with getting through that intersection on bikes or foot with children. Super stressful.

  5. GlowBoy January 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm #

    Great ideas here. I could think of major diagonal arterials in other cities where I’ve lived (Sandy Blvd in Portland, and Denny Way in Seattle) that could benefit from more of this.

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