Monday, January 29, 2007

How Do You get a Cul-De-Sac on Your Chicago Street?

Here's how.

Apparently the mayor is for them if your block is.

Essentially, you need to have 67% of your street's residents approve it before it goes to the city for review. If you don't muck up fire department, police, and CTA routes, and you're on a residential street, you're probably good to go.

The mayor says cul-de-sacs promote community. But, he doesn't explain how.

He also believes they reduce noise.
But he doesn't mention that's just on the block that gets the cul-de-sac.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live on a cul-de-sac in Lincoln Park.
I would say it brings them no more and no less "Community" than our through street two blocks away.

I will say it brings a lot of frustrated drivers to the street who think they can get to the main artery. Then, when they realize they are wrong and begin to cuss, they have to circle back. That's not very fun to watch, particularly when they're driving trucks. Perhaps that's the feeling of community the mayor is talking about.

Personally, I find cul-de-sacs annoying. I always thought of them as suburban accoutrements, and never as a good thingfor a bustling city to do.

I grew up on two different suburban cul-de-sacs in the Midwest. My father used to think they were the safest location for children, and he was probably right.

The one we moved to when I was in the fifth grade was right next to a second cul-de-sac at the end of a long street. My friends used to tell me I lived on "big balls" court.

Perhaps that's the real reason why I'm not a fan of them.

Aside: The Wonders of the Internets

So, I googled images of cul-de-sacs and by chance landed on this painting by Ellen Wixted. I found it at the Sev Shoon Art Center website. The Center is located in Seattle.

Ellen's other paintings are just as contemplative about the intersection of nature and development as this one. She states,

"Using the formal language of representational painting, my work explores the tension between our expectations of landscape painting and the unsettling landscapes that are the by-product of development."

Find more of her work here.

1 comment:

John said...

I worked on a school in the South Loop where we cul-de-saced a street to allow the kids to play outside and move around without the dangers of thru traffic. It made sense, as well because it didn't adversely affect traffic patterns (it was a short side street). I could see this sort of thing being applied to other parts of the city, but on a residential street? I'm not too sure it's justified, especially regarding the vague judgments you rightly question. If anything, a sense of community created by a cul-de-sac will be closer to a sense of exclusion. And there's also the safety that comes from a flow of thru traffic, both car and pedestrian, that would be diminished by cul-de-sacs. That's one of the reasons places like Cabrini-Green were so unsuccessful.