UPDATE: The Low-Line, The Bright Underbelly of the El


The Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP) will be revealed tonight, but there is one element that I think deserves special attention.

When research began on the project we were out surveying neighborhood inventory, like bike racks, streetscape environments, facade conditions, and public space.  After investigating we found that Lakeview contains only .2 acres of open space per 1000 residents (The ideal ratio is 2 acres per 1000 people). This notion was reinforced during the public open houses and interview sessions when residents cried out for more public open space. So where, in a dense, developed urban neighborhood do we find available land for public space? We thought, let’s look for space on top of things and under things!

While out on a photo shoot in November we had to get from the Southport Brown line station to the Paulina station on foot.  Instead of walking down to the next street we walked under the El tracks, and only after that did it occur to us that this is space we could use. The Low-Line was born. The proposed path would connect the once dissociated shopping streets of Lincoln and Southport Avenues, while increasing available open space to residents.  The Low Line would feature new native landscaping, solar powered lights, semi-pervious walking surface, and above all, a space for the local community to interact away from traffic. In true urban form we have developed an efficient layering of uses, in this case two different forms of transportation. A little slice of nature in what used to be an abandoned dirtscape.

UPDATE (03/17): Check out our video recap here.

UPDATE (03/18):  Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune says “[The] new master plan that isn’t afraid to think big or outside the box.” and has several “audacious” ideas. Cityscapes