The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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Too many interesting things to read today. I've got some time between work and Bel Canto to get through them:

I have not read Bel Canto, though I understand it's loosely based on an actual historical event. I also haven't ever heard anything from composer Jimmy López before, since it only permiered last month. Friends who work for the Lyric tell me it's pretty good. I'll find out in a few hours.

Things I can waste time with today

Since my company is closed today, and I have no obligations until late this afternoon, I'm taking my time fixing a bug and deploying a software package. So I actually have the bandwidth to read these articles right now, as opposed to "someday:"

I do have to fix this bug, though. Better get back to it now.

Another reading list

Too many things showed up in my RSS feeds this morning. Fortunately, I've got a few days off this weekend and next.

And now, a conference call.

Gift suggestion for The Daily Parker

This is cool. Explains CityLab:

Entomological unease aside, this poster of the planet’s 140 metros should make a fantastic holiday gift for the city-obsessed nerd. Made by Neil Freeman, an artist and urban planner who runs the site Fake Is the New Real, the roughly29 by 23-inch, black-and-white sheet stacks train systems with the largest ones at top…

...and the most basic at bottom.

Take a look at the artist's designs and find your metro.

How Evanston got rid of cars (mostly)

Politico has a long-form article describing Evanston's efforts to rid its downtown of cars:

With stops for Chicago Transit Authority buses and its “L” rail line, Metra suburban rail’s Union Pacific North line and the Pace suburban bus, Evanston always had great transit bones. For much of its history it had also been a relatively prosperous North Shore city, its growth initially spurred by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as Chicagoans fled its chaotic density, and in the 20th century, its share of once-famous industrial names, from Rust-Oleum Corp. to Shure, the audio products company, to Bell & Howell, then best known for its film cameras and projectors.

The answer to the suburb’s economic woes, as it turned out, lay in embracing Lerner’s theory that “city is not the problem, city is solution.” Beginning in 1986, a new plan for Evanston embraced the idea of a “24/7” downtown, pouring resources into increasing the density of its downtown—a density that also meant decreasing residents’ reliance on automobiles. As a compact city, Evanston couldn’t compete with the vast sprawling parking spots of the Old Orchard Mall. It had to build a different sort of appeal.

Evanston’s approach mixed investments in mass transit—including building a new downtown transportation center—and relaxing its zoning restrictions along two designated corridors, Main and Central Streets, to permit increased residential density. “Nobody wanted a 20-story building in their downtown,” recalls Aiello-Fantus, the former assistant city manager. “There was this perception that we’re just a little town and having something 20 stories changes that character.”

I'm glad Evanston's planning is getting national press. I love the place, which is why I lived there for many years (and may do again). For many years before then, my mom lived along the Main Street corridor mentioned in the article—and then moved up to Central Street later on. And, of course, I was just there a couple weeks ago.

Interesting aside: 116 years ago today, the village of Austin ceased to exist as it was absorbed into the City of Chicago by legislative fiat. The city might have swallowed Evanston as well. How Evanston avoided that is a story in itself.