Online voters, Placemaking experts declare winners of “What Makes Your Place Great?” contest - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Online voters, Placemaking experts declare winners of “What Makes Your Place Great?” contest

(Chicago) … The votes are in and results tallied for the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) and Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland” photo and video contest. Two dozen public places from across the Chicagoland area – from gardens to arboretums, coffee shops to arts districts – were nominated this summer, and now it’s time to announce the four winners.

Drumroll, please!

From Aug. 9 through Sept. 10, 2010, 1,273 individual votes were registered online at for Naperville’s Millennium Carillon as the People’s Choice winner:

Millennium Carillon, Naperville, Ill. (Click on link to view photo.)
Submitted by Sameera L., who wrote:
“At the base of the Naperville Riverwalk’s Rotary Hill stands the majestic Millennium Carillon in Moser Tower, a unique 14-story structure with a 72-bell musical instrument. This gift, given to the Naperville community to commemorate the dawn of the New Millennium, was built through community support and donations and is maintained through a partnership between the Naperville Park District, Millennium Carillon Foundation and the City of Naperville. The Carillon and adjacent Visitor Center are open for tours from May-November. Visitors can climb the 253 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy the spectacular view, where on a clear day the Chicago skyline can be seen. An elevator can take guests to the gallery level viewing deck. ...”

A committee of experts in Placemaking – a people-centered approach to community planning; learn more at – selected the Experimental Station, Glenwood Avenue Arts District, and Japanese Garden in Jackson Park as the remaining three winners:

Experimental Station, Chicago (Click on link to view photo.)
Submitted by Annie L., who wrote:
“When I took this picture, I had stumbled upon the end of a ‘Bread Bake’ and there were a couple of guys playing soccer in the driveway while the others cleaned up from an afternoon of baking goodies in Experimental Station's brick oven.  You never know what sort of event will happen next at Experimental Station; the farmer's market brings crowds that fill the streets on Saturdays, Backstory Cafe attracts lingerers over coffee or weekend brunch, and Blackstone Bikes is always overflowing with the energy of kids playing and machines springing to life.  I made a point to visit the first day I moved to Chicago, and I sat for hours under the trees in the garden, chatting with the chickens and neighbors who had also come to pass a beautiful afternoon outside.  Almost a year later, it's still where I go to get my hands greasy in the bike shop, to see unusual events, to find a welcoming environment, and to spend time with friends, young and old, from all walks of life. …”

Glenwood Avenue Arts District, Chicago (Click on link to view video.)
Submitted by Mary B., who wrote:
“Banners on the street poles tell you you’ve arrived. Chances are you walked or came by train or bus to Glenwood Avenue Arts District in Rogers Park, Chicago, a district that exemplifies a successful urban place. The district is compact, making pedestrians feel safe and welcome, and the cobblestone streets, cleaned 5 times per week, are some of the last in the city. Free events are held in the district throughout the year, ranging from Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival to Rogers Park Pooch Party to the free talks and events sponsored by Mess Hall, a loose cooperative of artists and stakeholders. The brand new Glenwood Sunday Market, held every Sunday from June to October, features free outdoor concerts and cooking demonstrations and accepts WIC, making it a farmers’ market for all. …”

Japanese Garden in Jackson Park, Chicago (Click on link to view photo.)
Submitted by Julia P, who wrote:
“Hyde Park is beautiful with its leafy trees and brick homes, not to mention the University of Chicago campus which is quite great in its own right, however, Jackson Park really caught my attention because of its natural beauty. I had no idea this park existed, with a garden emulating the pristine and tranquil gardens of Japan. I was taken aback especially with the beautiful and lucid winter light as a gorgeous backdrop to the sunset. When I graduated in June, the garden was one of the very first places I brought my family that had come from New York and Europe to see me graduate. My place … is so great because it serves the Hyde Park community year round, and because of its natural setting, it adopts the changes in season into its landscape. …”

An exclusive CAF bus tour will feature some of the winning places, as well as other nominees. The tour will be on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, departing from CAF, 224 S. Michigan Ave., at 9:30 a.m., returning at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for CAF/MPC members and $30 otherwise. Proceeds benefit Placemaking Chicago. Register today at

Contest entries will be featured in a digital presentation at CAF in the Lecture Hall Gallery, on view Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 14 through Oct. 30.

Photos and videos of the winners and all of the nominees are available on Flickr. If you cannot view the HTML version of this release, visit Trouble downloading photos and videos? Contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC assistant communications director, at or 773-640-1206. also features a Google map showing the location of each great place, a fun resource for families looking for excursions to great places right here in metropolitan Chicago.

“The response to this contest has been amazing and reinforced just how important great public places are to the quality of our lives,” said Karin Sommer, MPC’s Placemaking Chicago project manager. “Chicagoland is a vibrant, attractive place, thanks in part to all of the places nominated in the ‘What Makes Your Place Great?’ contest.”

MPC and CAF are grateful for support and funding from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, and Perkins+Will.

About Placemaking Chicago
Placemaking focuses on the importance of lively neighborhoods and inviting public spaces to residents and communities. In 2008, MPC worked with the New York-based Project for Public Spaces to develop the first-ever city-specific guidebook on Placemaking, The Guide to Neighborhood Placemaking in Chicago. Through Placemaking Chicago, MPC is helping municipalities and city and suburban planning agencies incorporate Placemaking principles into their plans. Learn more at

About Chicago Architecture Foundation
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public interest and education in architecture and design. CAF presents a comprehensive program of tours, exhibitions, lectures, special events, and adult and youth education activities, all designed to enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Chicago’s outstanding architectural legacy. CAF is best known for their outstanding tours and exhibitions.  With more than 85 architecture tours to choose from, including boat, foot, bus, bike, or Segway, the enthusiastic and highly-educated docent guides will give you unexpected insights into why Chicago is known around the world for its spectacular architecture.  A great companion to any tour is a visit to Chicago Architecture Foundation’s exhibition, the Chicago Model City, which tells the stories behind the planning of Chicago using an accurate and up-to-date large-scale model that enables visitors to trace the route of their tour and understand the Chicago urban plan. The exhibition is located next to a great retail store that features fun and unique merchandise.

About Metropolitan Planning Council
Since 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, MPC serves communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth.

Learn more about Placemaking – and read the complete “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland” contest rules and submission guidelines – at; or by contacting MPC Project Manager Karin Sommer, at 312-863-6044 or



No comments

More posts by Mandy

All posts by Mandy »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »