Kenmore Avenue: A pedestrian playground
Published: Friday, May 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Many students may have noticed the road barriers blocking cars from entering Kenmore Ave. between the John T. Richardson Library and Sanctuary Hall Housing Units. No more ducking in between speeding vehicles to cross from the SAC to the new Arts & Letters building, that’s a relief. But what will become of the open road?
Earlier this month, Kenmore Ave. on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus was closed off to vehicular traffic. The aim is for the street section to be utilized as “green space” for pedestrians, or more specifically, DePaul students walking on campus. What can this “green space” be used for?
A block party May 4 kicked off this experiment with Kenmore Ave., with a number of DePaul students in attendance.
There have other uses for this new (and maybe temporary) green space. On Tuesdays, there are musicians performing on the street during lunch hour (12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.)
Senior Calvin Fredrickson, a member of the band Sewingneedle, performed on the first Tuesday of this month. The singer was armed with his acoustic guitar, snow cones were being served and a crowd of students enjoyed both the music and the treats.
Some students have some creative ideas on how Kenmore can be used. One person mentioned that Banksy could visit the windy city and create one of his infamous pieces on the asphalt. Others have mentioned having bouncy houses and punching bags during midterms and finals week.
“We could have ramps for skateboarders,” said Joshua Perez. “Plus, a lot of events that take place at the (Student Center) atrium could be out here. Maybe have the American Gladiators (bouncy house) or the mechanical bull. Or maybe a group could have a fashion show on the street.”
It is easy to imagine models strutting in the middle of the asphalt. Chairs are lined up by the sidewalk where the audience will sit. Maybe have a reception in the seating area next to the Arts and Letters building afterwards.
“We definitely need more space,” said Elizabeth Juarez. The undergrad also mentioned that musicians could make great use of the space, especially students who are involved in bands or are solo performers.
“There could also be art exhibits and other cultural events, like the Taste of DePaul can relocate to the area,” she said.
John Ortega, like many other students, is in favor of a Kenmore Ave. green-space where art shows, bouncy houses and live music are possible.
“It fosters a better social environment. People are out more, especially during warm weather. In the city, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Ortega also mentioned that Kenmore could be seen as an alternate to the quad, which is the only major outdoor space on the Lincoln Park campus for students to be outdoors.
How would the space be used during the colder months of the year, when block parties and live music are no longer an option?
Perez suggests a series of intramural snowball fights.
“They would set up forts, teams, and start flinging snow balls at each other,” he said. In addition to snowball fights, other winter activities could include a temporary-structured ice rink and an outlet for sledding.
“The snow needs to go somewhere,” he said.
Some students are not fully open to the idea of Kenmore being closed to cars for good. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, mentioned that she imagines traffic will get worse.
“Why would (they) do something so stupid?” another person said.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Jessica Schell. While she is not a fan of having to deal with traffic, she does “feel bad for those who do drive and have significantly less options for free parking.”
It is often said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.
With Kenmore Ave. expected to return as its place for street parking and cars driving on it at the end of this month, roughly 30 days have passed since the asphalt had last had contact with car tires.
Will traffic resume like nothing had happened? Where will the musicians go to perform and students can get free snow cones? What will become of that piece Banksy will make on the asphalt?
Only time will tell.