All aboard: Activating Chicago's Union Station
Help us activate Chicago Union Station by competing for $5000 and 10 days of programming.
- By Kara Riggio and MPC Research Assistant DeVon A. Pruitt
- June 14, 2013
You’d think that a Union Station in the nation’s third largest metropolitan area—home to roughly 40 museums, 150 theatres, over 6000 restaurants and more than 30 Fortune 500 companies—would be bursting with fun, excitement and cultural fanfare. Whelp…it’s not! And that raises a great question: “Why can’t Chicago’s Union Station be more than just a transportation thoroughfare? Why not a place to hang out and enjoy for travelers and residents alike?” It’s a huge space—it should be a happening one too.
Got an idea, but no manpower? Or manpower but no idea? Drop a comment in our box below or tweet us @Metroplanners using #ActivateUS!
The good news is, you can help Chicago’s Union Station develop into a cultural and social hub. Through our “Activate Union Station” placemaking contest (and thanks to our generous sponsor, Fifth Third Bank), the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is investing $5,000 for two stellar projects that implement a program or series of programs for 10 days—activating Union Station in the process. It is our goal that this contest will signal to community developers and investors that Union Station is an opportunity for social and economic growth, and not just a giant revolving door for entering and exiting the city.
It’s been done before. Philadelphians are enjoying the benefits of “The Porch”—a modernized, outdoor gathering where residents can enjoy lunch, socialize and relax. The Porch offers spacious room for festivals, dining, outdoor fitness and leisurely relaxation. Philadelphia’s relatively modest $275,000 investment has reaped massive gains for their city; according to a University City District publication, The Porch at 30th Street Station drew over 10,000 visitors in its first 90 days. Apart from partaking in activities like mini golf or yoga, those patrons bought food; only 19 percent who lunched at The Porch brought food from home. In other words, placemaking at 30th Street has translated into dollars. Developers see the potential of expanding The Porch with retail, restaurants and other consumer-friendly amenities. From Philly’s Porch, the possibilities for Chicago’s Union Station seem endless. Imagine a beer garden, karaoke festival or other amusing opportunities. It can happen here in the Windy City!
Union Station is projected to grow 40 percent by 2040. At this rapid pace, Chicago must embrace the times and reevaluate how to fully maximize Union Station’s vast untapped potential.You can help save Union Station from a slow decay into obsolescence by entering MPC’s Placemaking Contest for a chance to receive $5,000 and implement your vision. Think you’ve got what it takes? Check out the guidelines and register today!
Got an idea, but no manpower? Drop a comment in our box below or tweet us (@Metroplanners) using #ActivateUS!