People often say that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Something I’ve been mulling over with tourees on the Pedway Tour is that the Pedway (our underground walkway) is not just a place to move through, but that the Pedway itself is one of our neighborhoods. Chicago, depending on who you ask, has 77 distinct neighborhoods. Well, I’m calling it 78 neighborhoods.
The American Planning Association has a list of qualifications as to what makes a great neighborhood. Now I’m not saying that the Pedway is a GREAT neighborhood, but I think from these questions we can see that it is, indeed, a neighborhood
I’m including ONLY the Pedway in this, but I’m also including it’s connection to great buildings, transit and all of that just as if it was a sidewalk or a neighborhood street.
Accommodate multiple users and provide access (via walking, bicycling, or public transit) to multiple destinations that serve its residents.
Most definitely the Pedway does this. It’s origin point is the connection between the Blue Line and Red Line at Washington. It also connects all of the elevated lines and it connects to the South Shore Metra. Obvs it provides access via walking and there is a guy in who rides his electric scooter up and down under Macy’s, so there are multiple forms of travel even in the Pedway itself.
Foster social interaction and create a sense of community and neighborliness?
You bet! In the neighborhood where I live I wave to the taco guy every day. I don’t know his name or much about his life, but it’s this great urban neighborhood relationship, EVERY TIME I walk by the taco guy, we wave to each other and in all honesty, it’s one of the best relationships I have, heh. It’s the same way in the Pedway, I have all kinds of friends down there, some I know better than others, but I’m always waving to somebody: the guy who owns the Korean restaurant, Bill the Pedway Musician and the security guard in City Hall who every time I walk by with a group calls me “The Famous Tour Guide.” I love that guy. I love my Pedway friends.
Not a very good pic of my good friend Bill the Pedway Musician.
Promote security from crime and is made safe for children and other users (i.e. traffic calming, other measures)?
The Pedway is safer than the streets, there’s no doubt about it. When I first started the tour, I asked cops about the Pedway because I thought maybe I’d get some great getaway story out of it, not so much, they continually say that nothing ever happens in the Pedway. Each building is responsible for their secure Pedway and buildings in this town are pretty on top of security, so the Pedway itself is really safe. In five years I’ve never felt differently. And traffic calming? That’s it’s whole point. Calmest traffic around! Except for the guy on the electric bike.
Use, protect, and enhance the environment and natural features?
That’s the whole point of the thing, so you bet. I’m not sure I could argue that it “enhances” the environment but it definitely protects natural features – meaning us.
Reflect the community’s local character and set itself apart from other neighborhoods?
Yes, I think it does. Since the Pedway reflects the buildings it’s underneath, it reflects so many aspects of the city. Just like any neighborhood, there are pretty parts of the Pedway, there are some not so pretty parts of the Pedway. There are icky parts of the Pedway with pretty things in them and pretty parts of the pedway with icky things in them. And it definitely does not look like other parts of the city. It’s distinct alright.
Has design and architectural features that are visually interesting.
Yes. Yes it does. The stained glass windows in Macy’s are unbelievable – there’s a Tiffany window down there! In the basement of Macy’s for petes sakes, A TIFFANY WINDOW. And of course one of the best parts of the Pedway is how different it is in it’s design and features. That’s the best part, just like the city neighborhoods up above, the Pedway changes from step to step to step.
The other last great thing about the Pedway is that everyone uses it, all colors, all ages, all classes – everyone is down there. Everyone who’s cool anyway…or warm as the case may be.