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the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 3:05 AM

CHICAGOLAND | Urban Development in the Burbs
 
So far based on our discussion, here is a working list of Chicago's better suburban downtowns, which have a variable amount of shopping, dining, entertainment, and historic architecture. Some are more lively than others, some are more quaint than others, some are more ritzy and some are more working class. Please feel to suggest additions (or subtractions) from this list. Pics welcomed!

Glencoe
Highwood
WIlmette
Winnetka
Ravinia
Hubbard Woods
La Grange
Hinsdale
Lake Forest
Evanston
Oak Park
Naperville
Highland Park
Arlington Heights
Geneva
Woodstock
St Charles
Des Plaines
Park Ridge
Elmhurst
Aurora
Elgin

(Aurora and Elgin based on sheer size as opposed to retail activity)

Buckman821 Apr 12, 2012 3:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663252)
Rate your favorite suburban downtowns.

In descending order, here is what I've got:

1. Evanston
2. Oak Park
3. Naperville
4. Arlington Heights
5. Wilmette?


Am I missing a big one? There are still a lot of burbs I have not visited. How about Woodstock? How about some of those Fox river towns? I like Hinsdale but it's a bit small. I've passed Lake Forest's downtown on Metra and it looks nice, but I haven't really walked around. Glenview's downtown is decent.

Highland Park over Wilmette for sure. I'm not as familiar with some of the others so I won't place it on the list but I dont think it could beat evanston or oak park.

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 3:34 AM

You said "favorite", so...

1) Oak Park
2) Evanston
3) Winnetka/Hubbard Woods
4) Elmhurst
5) Geneva
6) Woodstock
7) St Charles
8) Highland Park
9) Park Ridge
10) Des Plaines

I'm not a huge fan of Naperville or Arlington Heights. Both places feel soulless and artificial to me, like the blend of businesses and amenities was carefully crafted by retail consultants or something.

Des Plaines is fun because it's so diverse and it has so much potential. It's not Flushing by any stretch, but there are numerous businesses run by Hispanic, Eastern European, and Asian immigrants. The city is density-friendly and they've allowed residential streets around downtown to get built up with big 4+1s. If they only allowed a few towers in the downtown, they could have a very bustling pedestrian district forming.

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 3:46 AM

^ Wow, Ardecila, thanks for the tip.

I have done the "Chicago" thing exhaustively (not that I'm ever going to get tired of the city anytime soon), but I've been interested in doing a suburban tour.

I haven't been to many of those suburbs, but I'll be sure to add them to my list of places worth visiting. Interestingly, what is it about Oak Park that makes you put it above Evanston?

One thing: Naperville gets a lot of hate around here. But to be honest, its downtown is really nice! What it may lack in character, I think is made up by the fact that at least they are making an effort to create a walkable retail/entertainment environment that isn't too far from the Metra station. And I LOVE the riverwalk.

Chicagoguy Apr 12, 2012 3:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663252)
Rate your favorite suburban downtowns.

In descending order, here is what I've got:

1. Evanston
2. Oak Park
3. Naperville
4. Arlington Heights
5. Wilmette?


Am I missing a big one? There are still a lot of burbs I have not visited. How about Woodstock? How about some of those Fox river towns? I like Hinsdale but it's a bit small. I've passed Lake Forest's downtown on Metra and it looks nice, but I haven't really walked around. Glenview's downtown is decent.

These would be my top 5:

1. Evanston
2. Highland Park
3. Wilmette
4. Oak Park
5. Lake Geneva (I know it is WI but it only takes 1.5 hours to get there)

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 3:50 AM

Anybody want to weigh in on Skokie (ie Touhy Ave)? Correct me if I'm wrong, but much of the walkable main st-style portions of Touhy are in Skokie right?

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 4:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663305)
I haven't been to many of those suburbs, but I'll be sure to add them to my list of places worth visiting. Interestingly, what is it about Oak Park that makes you put it above Evanston?

Better mix of independent businesses.

Quote:

One thing: Naperville gets a lot of hate around here. But to be honest, its downtown is really nice! What it may lack in character, I think is made up by the fact that at least they are making an effort to create a walkable retail/entertainment environment that isn't too far from the Metra station. And I LOVE the riverwalk.
My dislike of Naperville's downtown has nothing to do with the sprawly nature of its residential neighborhoods. As I said before, it's all about the mixture of businesses. Part of the function of any reasonably urban place is to help grow businesses, giving opportunities to people with ideas and connecting them to a broad market. Naperville with their heavy reliance on chains will never be the home of anything new or innovative.

And, yea, it's close to the Metra - like every other suburban downtown. It's not like they're doing people a favor by developing it. I do think their parking system is very clever, though.

Swicago Swi Sox Apr 12, 2012 4:36 AM

Quote:

Rate your favorite suburban downtowns.

In descending order, here is what I've got:

1. Evanston
2. Oak Park
3. Naperville
4. Arlington Heights
5. Wilmette?
This is a pretty west and north biased list...for some Southwest style love, i'd add Hinsdale and Lagrange.

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 5:19 AM

Shit, I did forget LaGrange. That would probably sit in at #6 on my list.

denizen467 Apr 12, 2012 5:39 AM

Ardecila I suppose Hubbard Woods edges out Glencoe and Lake Forest (each also next to a Metra station) because the latter are too small and too boutique-y, despite Hubbard Woods being kind of a strip and nowhere near as pretty as the latter? Or are you including downtown Winnetka with Hubbard Woods (they are quite separated)?

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 6:32 AM

I understand that Winnetka has two downtowns (Highland Park too, or three if you count Braeside). Hubbard Woods is somewhat small but it's well laid out and oriented around a beautiful town square at the train station. Green Bay Rd is lined with many unique and successful businesses and the street has great architectural character with mostly 1920s Tudor and Neoclassical.

From my perspective, Hubbard Woods is more beautiful than downtown Lake Forest, which is a weird eclectic architecture and purposefully auto-oriented, whatever that meant in the 20s. For the most part, though, the North Shore is pretty good urbanistically.

Glencoe's downtown is not even worth considering for the business mix, architecture, or pedestrianism. Lake Bluff and Ravinia do much more with less. It's often difficult on the North Shore to decide whether each downtown feels nice because of good design and planning, or because really wealthy people poured money into them to avoid embarassment.

I'm confident at least that Hubbard Woods is successful by design. It's a compelling place to be, which would remain true even if Ann Sacks and the Gap were replaced by pawn shops and bail bondsmen.

denizen467 Apr 12, 2012 7:28 AM

Hubbard Woods however is largely awful north of Merrill Street. That leaves just 2 nice blocks, and they end with a gas station and have a couple other tooth gaps. The other thing is that those blocks straddle an arterial - Green Bay - and their sidewalks are not terribly wide with no planted strip between the sidewalk and the curb. Those might be good things or non-issues in the city, but in this small-scale suburban neighborhood context, it's feels suddenly congested without the usual density benefits of lots of choices. I can see how on Google Street View it looks very pretty but the actual experience is underwhelming - and the station park also is not as nice as it seems.

I guess there are different ways of looking at what should be desirable in a suburban downtown, because I understand the points you made too. On that basis Glencoe indeed doesn't come into the picture, but I think downtown Winnetka does deserve a nod.

ChiPhi Apr 12, 2012 12:20 PM

This is incredibly off subject, but I'll weigh in anyways. Evanston definitely wins with both El and Metra access and a fair mix of retail types as well as architectural styles. There is a good amount of residential density in the area as well with the highrises and such. This and the fact that many North Shore residents see it as an easily accessible downtown area (compared to the Loop and Michi Ave) means that walkable street life is pretty good as people park in one of the parking structures (I took the train a lot when I was in high school) and walk around for hours. Beyond that, you've got the added bonus of a dynamic university right next door.

As far as smaller towns go, I tend to prefer the 1920's aesthetic of Glencoe, Hubbard Woods (before you get to the strip mall to the north - the park is nice as well), Winnetka, Wilmette is okay, Lake Forest. Even Oak Park imo suffers from the same problem as these places - the gravity / size of locations is not strong enough to lure people out of their cars and let them walk around.

Rizzo Apr 12, 2012 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663305)
^ Wow, Ardecila, thanks for the tip.

I have done the "Chicago" thing exhaustively (not that I'm ever going to get tired of the city anytime soon), but I've been interested in doing a suburban tour.

I haven't been to many of those suburbs, but I'll be sure to add them to my list of places worth visiting. Interestingly, what is it about Oak Park that makes you put it above Evanston?

One thing: Naperville gets a lot of hate around here. But to be honest, its downtown is really nice! What it may lack in character, I think is made up by the fact that at least they are making an effort to create a walkable retail/entertainment environment that isn't too far from the Metra station. And I LOVE the riverwalk.

I love downtown Naperville. It's pretty hard for anyone to hate on it unless they are referring to the commercial-highway areas outside the core. But the central section of Naperville is great. Walkable, lots of shops and restaurants, and decent older buildings.

I agree that all these posts (including mine) should be merged into a suburban Chicago thread. I also have lots of pictures of Oak Park, Naperville, Winnetka, Willmette, Evanston, and Highland Park.

untitledreality Apr 12, 2012 2:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Swicago Swi Sox (Post 5663357)
This is a pretty west and north biased list...for some Southwest style love, i'd add Hinsdale and Lagrange.

I was waiting for someone to mention LaGrange.

My top 6, in no particular order would be Oak Park, Evanston, LaGrange, Elmhurst, Highland Park, Naperville.


Oak Park and Evanston are obvious... Elmhurst, LaGrange and HP have a great scale to them, with a nice mixture of uses all within a walkable distance from main thoroughfares and Metra to get my vote. And even while I despise Naperville, they are trying really really hard to make their downtown as dense and vibrant as possible. I was recently there on a Saturday night and the streets were packed.

Ch.G, Ch.G Apr 12, 2012 2:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5663431)
I understand that Winnetka has two downtowns (Highland Park too, or three if you count Braeside). Hubbard Woods is somewhat small but it's well laid out and oriented around a beautiful town square at the train station. Green Bay Rd is lined with many unique and successful businesses and the street has great architectural character with mostly 1920s Tudor and Neoclassical.

From my perspective, Hubbard Woods is more beautiful than downtown Lake Forest, which is a weird eclectic architecture and purposefully auto-oriented, whatever that meant in the 20s. For the most part, though, the North Shore is pretty good urbanistically.

Glencoe's downtown is not even worth considering for the business mix, architecture, or pedestrianism. Lake Bluff and Ravinia do much more with less.

Hubbard Woods is tiny. You could isolate a comparable strip from any larger North Shore downtown. I certainly wouldn't categorize it differently than Glencoe or Winnetka. In fact, I'd rank Highwood above Hubbard Woods; it has a working class charm that's unique to the area and more vibrancy after 5pm than most North Shore locales. (Lots of bars and restaurants. The Italian heritage is strong, though not as much as it used to be during Highwood's heyday when Fort Sheridan was more active.)

Braeside is not a downtown, just a Metra stop with a couple businesses across the street. There's a weird little area just to the west of Route 41/Skokie Highway at Deerfield Road that has more claim to title of Highland Park's "third downtown" than Braeside.

If we're just talking the North Shore, I'd say downtown Highland Park easily outranks all the others after Evanston. There are some questionable planning choices and architecture styles, to be sure, but some really great ones, as well: underground parking, higher density (and mixed income) housing (something you won't find much of in the rest of the North Shore: limousine liberalism and whatnot), mixed use. In general, the city has taken more risks, and the overall result is an interesting mix—most often nice, sometimes endearingly quirky. When you consider the institutions housed there (the high school, a middle school, and an elementary school; the city hall; the library; the historical society; an art center—"The Art Center") and some of the businesses (Saks, Anthropologie, E Street, Paper Source, boutiques, spas, bakeries, chocolate shops, an art house movie theater, a second-run theater, Sunset Foods) and restaurants (Once Upon a Bagel, Michael's, Stash's, Love's frozen yogurt, Walker Bros.), IMO, it's hard to find anything else in the area that comes close.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5663431)
It's often difficult on the North Shore to decide whether each downtown feels nice because of good design and planning, or because really wealthy people poured money into them to avoid embarassment.

Really? There are plenty of wealthy suburbs with shit downtowns. Deerfield had an opportunity not too long ago to make their downtown more inviting but totally blew it with the arrangement of the massive amount of surface parking they installed.

ETA--sorry, TUP, missed your post.

orulz Apr 12, 2012 2:34 PM

Let me start this by saying that I have very little expeience with Chicago suburbs.

What do you mean by "favorite" - do you mean the best place to visit or the best place to live?

While I agree that the retail mix is rather bland at Arlington Heights, and the architecture of the recent buildings varies from eye gougingly bland to ungainly pastiche, it seems to me to be a very livable town. The presence of a major grocery store right across the street from the Metra station helps a lot. I have relatives who live in a bungalow a couple blocks from there and it seems pretty nice to me.

Rizzo Apr 12, 2012 2:43 PM

Here's some pics I have handy of Naperville

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3121/2...3368b70a_b.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3238/2...098b553b_b.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3291/2...ed5f246a_b.jpg

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 2:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663628)
I've never been to Riverside, but it was supposedly designed by Olmstead, anyone want to comment on it? Also, how about the south burbs? I've never been to downtown Joliet, but it's a large enough town that it must have a substantial one.

Riverside is definitely worth a trip for sheer beauty alone, but it doesn't really have a business district. There's a barber shop and a florist, I think. Definitely a bedroom community, albeit a transit-oriented one.

I don't really know a ton about downtown Joliet either, but it doesn't have the best reputation. Neither do the other industrial satellites of Aurora and Elgin, although Aurora is getting better.

Steely Dan Apr 12, 2012 2:52 PM

for their architecture alone, i've got to give props to downtown aurora and elgin. they're not the liveliest of places, but they have bigger bones than most suburban downtowns because they weren't built as burbs.

my pics:

elgin

http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/4610/20toweryq4.jpg


http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/8656/21elginlo6.jpg


http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/448/22towerpv4.jpg


http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/5870/23elginjl8.jpg


http://img360.imageshack.us/img360/2...artdecoxy4.jpg


http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8286/25elginvw6.jpg




aurora

http://img241.imageshack.us/img241/9371/53toweruk3.jpg


http://img184.imageshack.us/img184/2...verparkmj9.jpg


http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/8939/55aurorakk6.jpg

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 2:56 PM

^ I'll add those two to the list. The first post of this thread will be a compilation of nominated towns

ardecila Apr 12, 2012 3:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G (Post 5663641)
Hubbard Woods is tiny. You could isolate a comparable strip from any larger North Shore downtown. I certainly wouldn't categorize it differently than Glencoe or Winnetka.

Not classifiying it different from Winnetka; my list put them in the same bullet point. The two are fairly similar with public squares by the train station and community anchors nearby. Glencoe is more sleepy.

I haven't seen Central Ave in Evanston brought up yet... really nice business district there.

Quote:

Once Upon a Bagel, Michael's, Stash's, Love's frozen yogurt, Walker Bros.
I would kill for any of these (well, maybe not Stash's)

Quote:

Really? There are plenty of wealthy suburbs with shit downtowns. Deerfield had an opportunity not too long ago to make their downtown more inviting but totally blew it with the arrangement of the massive amount of surface parking they installed.
Well, they just replaced the Commons with another strip mall... basically the same site plan. It's not any worse than it was... :rolleyes:

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 3:05 PM

While we are discussing suburban downtown development:

$30 million office/retail project slated for downtown Naperville

http://www.chicagorealestatedaily.co...maxw=368&q=100

Centropolis Apr 12, 2012 4:49 PM

Cool thread. I'm only familar with the SW side downtowns, plus downtown Joliet which is pretty rustbelt-y. I've been to downtown Downers Grove several times and boarded metra there, how does that rank? Small? I love how these downtowns (at least the ones I've been to) feel connected *to* Chicago and not *apart from* Chicago like the old rail commuter suburban downtowns west and sw of St. Louis often feel.

Steely Dan Apr 12, 2012 4:51 PM

i don't think anyone has mentioned Park Ridge yet, but if we're including small potatoes places like thrillmette and winnetka in the discussion, then a more substantial downtown like park ridge absolutely has to be included. mount prospect too. and hell, palatine too. if we're gonna include that level of suburban downtown, there are so many to list. lombard, downers grove, wheaton, libertyville, homewood, brookfield, glen ellyn etc. etc. - just take a ride on all of the metra lines.

and urb, if you're adding aurora and elgin for their architectural legacy, then joliet absolutely has to be included in that group too, but i don't have pics unfortunately.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Centropolis (Post 5663864)
I love how these downtowns (at least the ones I've been to) feel connected *to* Chicago and not *apart from* Chicago like the old rail commuter suburban downtowns west and sw of St. Louis often feel.

commuter rail that has grown with its metro area for well over a century is a beautiful thing.

Centropolis Apr 12, 2012 4:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steely Dan (Post 5663873)
and urb, if you're adding aurora and elgin for their architectural legacy, then joliet absolutely has to be included in that group too, but i don't have pics unfortunately.

I have some holga photos, strangely enough, somewhere at home of downtown Joliet. I remember lots of brawny early twentieth century stuff, including the high school and of course the brawniest biggest small train station i've ever seen, if that makes sense.

Tom In Chicago Apr 12, 2012 5:24 PM

Kenosha? [/hometown boosterism]

. . .

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 5:25 PM

Steely, Park Ridge has already been mentioned.

Regarding the rest, I guess I'm wondering if the list should be less inclusive since you are right, any suburb with a walkable main st (and I'm guessing there are a lot) would qualify.

Perhaps I should just narrow it down to a "Top ten suburban downtowns" list?

Criteria to consider:

1. Retail and entertainment activity
2. Access to transit
3. Architecture

So what should the top 10 be?

Steely Dan Apr 12, 2012 7:05 PM

^ evanston is number 1. oak park is number 2.

after that the rankings get far more muddled and less clear to me, though naperville, highland park, and arlington heights get mentioned a lot.

bnk Apr 12, 2012 7:14 PM

TUP as someone that lives out in McHenry county I would take Woodstock off the list and replace it with Crystal Lake [2 lakes, Crystal Lake and the larger Vulcan lake with beach access ]. An excellent park system. Metra access and much better dining and diversity of dining [ Thai, Indian, like 7 different japanese resturants, ect , shoping, stores, schools 3 High Schools and a private High school,.. It boarders LITH and Algonquin with access to both from the Randal road corridor. Those 3 attached towns have well over 100,000 citizens. There are also two colleges in Crystal Lake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Lake,_Illinois


Woodstock is a dump IMO. Tuns of section 8.

the urban politician Apr 12, 2012 7:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnk (Post 5664088)
TUP as someone that lives out in McHenry county I would take Woodstock off the list and replace it with Crystal Lake. Metra access and much better dining and diversity of dining, shoping, stores, schools, Woodstock is a dump IMO.

^ Okay, thanks. Crystal Lake is a new one. I'm no longer adding burbs to the list on page 1 because there are too many, I'd rather just focus on the best ones.

Woodstock earns an honorary designation because of its role in Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies of all time

Ch.G, Ch.G Apr 12, 2012 8:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5664102)
^ Okay, thanks. Crystal Lake is a new one. I'm no longer adding burbs to the list on page 1 because there are too many, I'd rather just focus on the best ones.

Woodstock earns an honorary designation because of its role in Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies of all time

I think ardecila already said something along these lines, but, if you haven't done so yet, you should take Green Bay Road from Lake Bluff through Evanston. It really gives you a sense of how connected the downtowns of the North Shore are. Along Green Bay itself—in between the more prominent business districts—are strips (not strip malls) of retail and other businesses. It kinda feels like one long commercial road punctuated by some parks and residential areas. On your way back, you can take Sheridan (if you've never done so) and enjoy what is, in my opinion, one of the most scenic drives in the country. Just don't get into an accident gawking at the architecture of the lakeside manors, as I always almost do.

Steely Dan Apr 13, 2012 2:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G (Post 5664206)
I think ardecila already said something along these lines, but, if you haven't done so yet, you should take Green Bay Road from Lake Bluff through Evanston.

better yet, ditch the car and take a bike ride through the downtowns of the northshore along the green bay bike trail, something i've done my entire life (born and raised in wilmette).

sukwoo Apr 13, 2012 7:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663923)
Steely, Park Ridge has already been mentioned.

Regarding the rest, I guess I'm wondering if the list should be less inclusive since you are right, any suburb with a walkable main st (and I'm guessing there are a lot) would qualify.

Perhaps I should just narrow it down to a "Top ten suburban downtowns" list?

Criteria to consider:

1. Retail and entertainment activity
2. Access to transit
3. Architecture

So what should the top 10 be?

I made a list of amenities that I was looking for in my search for the ideal (suburban) downtown.

Absolutely needed to have:
Metra station
Full-service grocery store
Movie theater
Bookstore
Coffeeshops
Restaurants

Good, but not essential
CTA el station
Post Office
Green space/park
Library

I think the most limiting requirements in the won't compromise category are the movie theater and grocery. Every downtown has coffee shops and restaurants, but few have a functioning movie theater and grocery store. OP even has two if you count the Whole Foods across the street in River Forest. Obviously the CTA requirement rules out all but OP and Evanston. Living within drunken stumbling distance of downtown OP, I'm probably a bit biased, but I can't think of any major category that it is missing.

ardecila Apr 13, 2012 11:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sukwoo (Post 5665503)
Obviously the CTA requirement rules out all but OP and Evanston.

What about Skokie, Forest Park, and Wilmette?

sukwoo Apr 14, 2012 12:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5665801)
What about Skokie, Forest Park, and Wilmette?

True, they do have CTA stations within their corporate limits, but I don't think any of them have the station within their downtown area (please correct me if I'm mistaken.) FP's 2 el stations are both almost half a mile from Madison St, the de facto leading commercial strip for FP. Of course these burbs are still better off that not having any el access at all.

Steely Dan Apr 14, 2012 3:22 AM

^ skokie's downtown will soon have a yellow line el stop when the new oakton station finally opens, which I believe is any day now. Skokie is not served by metra though.

Downtown wilmette has a metra station, but the end of the line linden stop on the purple line is about 1 mile east of downtown wilmette. There is a modest commercial district around the linden stop, but it's certainly distinct from downtown wilmette.

Nowhereman1280 Apr 19, 2012 3:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5663311)
Anybody want to weigh in on Skokie (ie Touhy Ave)? Correct me if I'm wrong, but much of the walkable main st-style portions of Touhy are in Skokie right?

I'm not sure where you got the idea that Touhy is walkable in Skokie. Touhy doesn't even have real sidewalks in places where it passes through Skokie. The real walkable areas of Skokie are all to the North along Lincoln Ave and Oakton.

Touhy is a bombed out hell hole in places except for maybe a few blocks where it is lined by a few retail stores and 60's ranch homes.

Steely Dan Apr 19, 2012 4:03 PM

^ yep, downtown skokie is unquestionably centered around oakton/lincoln/niles center, though the vast bulk of retail activity in skokie actually takes place up at old orchard.

the urban politician Apr 19, 2012 6:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5672091)
Touhy is a bombed out hell hole in places except for maybe a few blocks where it is lined by a few retail stores and 60's ranch homes.

^ In which town is Touhy a more main st style road? I've been by that area a few times but never was too sure where I was at the time.

Steely Dan Apr 19, 2012 6:57 PM

^ touhy goes right through the heart of downtown park ridge, which is a bit further west. it's still a big busy auto-sewer, but far nicer than it is over in niles/skokie/lincolnwood.

BorisMolotov May 4, 2012 12:12 AM

I'm not going to nominate my hometown of Bartlett although our downtown does contain most of the criteria and is growing (slowly) but it's way to small and has little significance compared to other things.

Elgin on the other hand, has done a lot of great things to help their downtown thanks to Grand Victoria casino and is now very walkable and with the new mixed use projects going to be built along the river, should transform the area even further.

Even though the list is full I think a town to consider is Barrington. Very walkable (even though route 59 and the northwest highway go right through it) downtown area and tons of festivals and farmers markets all summer. Its a lot bigger than it should be for a town of only around 10,000.

And also to put to rest the Naperville hate, people hate Napervillains because all they can talk about is how great Naperville is and how great they are for living in Naperville.

Rizzo May 4, 2012 2:18 AM

Too bad Rivers Casino wasn't built in downtown DesPlaines. They could have built on that triangular parcel along Miner. The garage could go on the back parcel and possibly over the Metra Tracks. Maybe they would have even built a hotel. Then again, it's a tiny parcel...and by a school. I don't know if that makes any difference

the urban politician May 4, 2012 12:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BorisMolotov (Post 5689173)
I'm not going to nominate my hometown of Bartlett although our downtown does contain most of the criteria and is growing (slowly) but it's way to small and has little significance compared to other things.

Elgin on the other hand, has done a lot of great things to help their downtown thanks to Grand Victoria casino and is now very walkable and with the new mixed use projects going to be built along the river, should transform the area even further.

Even though the list is full I think a town to consider is Barrington. Very walkable (even though route 59 and the northwest highway go right through it) downtown area and tons of festivals and farmers markets all summer. Its a lot bigger than it should be for a town of only around 10,000.

And also to put to rest the Naperville hate, people hate Napervillains because all they can talk about is how great Naperville is and how great they are for living in Naperville.

Looks like I have a lot of suburbs to visit.

This is good, actually, it gives me more of this great megapolis (or pending megapolis, once we reach 10 million people) to explore.

Problem is, I need to prioritize, which is partly why I started this thread. There are so many opinions out there, but I guess I need to get a handle on the most important places to visit first, and then go from there.

The Evanstons, Oak Parks, and Napervilles are slam dunks, but it seems as if the list gets a bit tricker after this point.

Rizzo Jun 8, 2012 2:13 AM

Some "Suburb of Chicago" Development I realize this is technically in the city of Chicago, but this area by O'Hare is a large job center with office and hotel towers, shopping, etc and it's very well served by transit.

http://chicago.curbed.com/uploads/AR...26q%3D100.jpeg
Via CurbedChicago

405-unit luxury apartment building just east of O'Hare at Bryn Mawr and Delphia

Curbed:
http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2...near-ohare.php

Crains:
http://www.chicagorealestatedaily.co...ned-near-ohare

BorisMolotov Jun 19, 2012 3:21 AM

Quote:

Looks like I have a lot of suburbs to visit.

This is good, actually, it gives me more of this great megapolis (or pending megapolis, once we reach 10 million people) to explore.
We may not be urbanly awesome and in some cases completely the opposite, but there are hidden gems in almost all the suburbs. For example, off of route 59 in Bartlett is the largest BAPS temple in the US and at least when it was built outside of India. They do tours and its really something to see. Again, not urban, but still something worth seeing.

the urban politician Jun 19, 2012 6:08 PM

^ I long ago abandoned the silly notion the predominates around here that the only things worth seeing are 'urban'

Steely Dan Jun 21, 2012 5:52 PM

I was in Evanston's city hall today and saw this cool aerial of central Evanston hanging on a wall in the basement, so I snapped a quick pic with my phone, hence the poor quality.



Chicagoland's Best Suburban Downtown

http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/9...stonaerial.jpg

Rizzo Jun 21, 2012 6:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steely Dan (Post 5742025)
I was in Evanston's city hall today and saw this cool aerial of central Evanston hanging on a wall in the basement, so I snapped a quick pic with my phone, hence the poor quality.



Chicagoland's Best Suburban Downtown

http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/9...stonaerial.jpg

I might argue it's the best suburban downtown in all of the midwest by a long shot.

1. Direct access from downtown to the lake
2. Beautiful historic neighborhoods
3. Downtown filled with a diversity of chain and mom/pop retail, restaurants, and bars.
4. Good traditional urban density. Nothing fabricated, or "new urbanist" about it. The real deal.
5. Direct access to frequent CTA and Metra access to other suburbs and the city of Chicago.
6. Contains a top ranked university.


I'm one of those people that travel on a regular basis to cities all across the US...big and small. I have an open mind and try to look for the best in everything I see, but I have yet to find a suburb in the midwest that has it all like Evanston.

Steely Dan Jun 21, 2012 8:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 5742053)
I might argue it's the best suburban downtown in all of the midwest by a long shot.

the "long shot" part is probably a bit hyperbolic, but the general gist of your statement might be true. if we can generally agree that evanston is chicagoland's #1 suburban downtown, then what would be the #1 contenders from other midwestern metros?

clayton for st. louis? royal oak for detroit? i think downtown evanston likely beats both of those in most measures.


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