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‘Open Streets’ event to close seven blocks of State Street for five hours

Seven blocks State Street will be closed traffic from 10 a.m. 3 p.m. Oct. 1. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times file

Seven blocks of State Street will be closed to traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 1. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times file

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Updated: November 5, 2011 1:53PM



Seven blocks of State Street will be closed to traffic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 1 to make way for an “urban playground” featuring relay races, yoga classes and a temporary skate park — and organizers assure residents that no plans exist to return the famous thoroughfare to a pedestrian mall.

Instead, the “Open Streets on State Street” is fashioned after similar events in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Bogota, Colombia, that encourage people to walk outside, visit local businesses and meet new people, said one of the event organizers.

“It’s only five hours on a Saturday, but it’s another way we’re trying to draw traffic and do something outside of the box,” said Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance, the downtown business booster that has hosted edgy public art displays and a dusk-until-dawn party known as Looptopia.

State Street will be lined from Lake to Van Buren with activities ranging from a dunking booth to a roller disco to demonstrations on bike safety and break dancing. Cars will be allowed to cross at Madison and Monroe.

“This gives people a new way to see one of the most iconic streets in the city, by walking to the businesses and standing in the street, looking up and appreciating the architecture. We want people to get around in healthier, ‘greener’ and more cost-efficient ways, and increase the trips people make by walking, biking or taking public transit,” said Adolfo Hernandez, director of advocacy and outreach for Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago non-profit that has planned and will set up the event.

The “Open Streets” event (OpenStreetsOnStateStreet.org) will cost $125,000 to stage. The cost is borne by a variety of Loop businesses, including the lead sponsor, the Illinois Center for Broadcasting at 530 S. State St.

Walgreen Co. will promote a walking program as part of its return to its former State and Randolph site in early 2012, this time with a new store featuring a sushi bar, manicure and pedicure services, and fresh produce and prepared foods.

Walgreen operated a store in the former Loehmann’s store at 151 N. State St. from 1926 to 2005. The new format is patterned after the Duane Reade drugstore chain, known for its upscale foodstuffs and elaborate cosmetics departments, which Walgreen acquired in February 2010.

“In Bogota, Colombia, the city closes 70 miles of road to cars every Sunday, and nearly 1 million people reclaim the space,” he said. “When you make travel safe, accessible and inviting, people will travel to parts of the city they haven’t been to before. Everyone can participate.”



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