Common Interview: What Changes Would You Like to See on 57th Street?

Students Respond to the 57th Street Charrette

By Isaac Stein

The Common Interview is a weekly feature that records the responses of a randomly selected group of undergraduate students to one issue or topic in University campus news. In so doing, The Maroon aims to solicit the thoughts of all students, irrespective of their prominence in campus organizations. Perhaps it is a snapshot of campus sentiment. Perhaps it is an incoherent stream of collective consciousness. Either outcome is worthy in its own right. – Isaac Stein 

Check out the coverage of 57th street development here.

“The public survey proposes mostly cosmetic changes that aren’t going to add much to 57th. What we really need is a bike lane and more bike parking, not lighted kiosks and new banners. Since parking is limited on 57th, enabling bike access would go a long way towards boosting local business. Apart from prioritizing bikers, the funds could also be directed towards supporting cultural events like the 57th Street Art Fair and towards fixing up Bixler Park. We should improve on what we have in terms of public spaces rather than aim for abstract re-branding as suggested by proposals for a street medallion or lighted kiosks,”

– Theresa Yuan ’16

“If the University and community were able to bring in a few more late night players such as a 24-hour pizza joint, a bar, or a late night study cafe, they would likely be able to encourage other businesses on the street such as Noodles Etc. and B’Gabs Goodies to keep their doors open later. This development would begin to cultivate an interesting, safer, and more fun street scene that people living on the street might look out at with interest, making it safer,”

– Saul Levin ’17

“There needs to be better maintenance of street pavement on 57th Street. I grew up in the Midwest, so I completely understand how hard it is to keep up with the horrible things winter does to streets, but 57th (and Woodlawn, too) receive a lot of car and bike traffic that are not well served by poor maintenance. It’s actually a safety hazard in places, especially for students biking home from campus at night who are crept upon by wily potholes. That’s definitely a lighting issue as well, but if you’re not constantly on the lookout for potholes, you can pay better attention to cars and pedestrians,”

– Kara Taylor ’15

“As a resident of Stony Island, I walk up and down 57th Street at least twice a day, every day… In general, there isn’t much to complain about. Sure, there’s the empty Edwardo’s by the Med and the closed book store next to 57th Street Salon, but overall 57th Street makes for a clean, safe, and aesthetically pleasing walk. In fact, even without intervention from the City, I think 57th Street and its businesses will only continue to prosper. I understand why the City wants to promote the street as a “Cultural Commerce Connection”, but there are undoubtedly many more streets in our City that are in greater need of funds, and perhaps we should look to those first,”

– Atticus Ballesteros ’17

“It’s important to mark that [57th] is a one-way street west of Stony Island, because the first time I drove through Hyde Park I was confused by the signage near the viaduct (or lack thereof), and went the wrong way through the tunnel without even realizing it. I think getting better signage and more lighting are the most important issues to address immediately, so that the whole street can have a more safe vibe,”

– Lyzz Joyce ’17

“Almost none of the changes [in the Charrette] would improve 57th Street; if anything they would damage it by creating a contrived attraction that crowds out the real spirit and community found there. Especially with the arrival of new restaurants and an arts space in the former O’Gara and Wilson Antiquarian Bookstore, the amenities offered on 57th Street are already improving through private efforts. 57th’s current greatest weakness is how early many of the businesses close… The main issue is the fact that the street shuts down too early, putting up pretty banners and branding the street will not change that. Making sure that people have reasons to be on 57th later than [approximately] 8 p.m. will,”

– Alexander Pizzirani ’16

“I do believe that 57th Street can use some new changes…the community could use more family-friendly attractions that could be generalized over to college students as well. A Chuck E Cheese would certainly satiate this need in the community, as well as my own personal need to be surrounded by animatronic characters at all times. A haunted house wouldn’t be bad either, the kids love the spooks. Preferably, the two new buildings would be joined together at the middle, perhaps to alleviate some construction costs, saving citizens much of their hard-earned money in taxes. [It would also] make Chicago history by being the first ever Chuck E Cheese-haunted house combo extravaganza,”

– Katherine Ordonez ’17