How Are 'We' Living? Reevaluating the Chicago Boulevard System
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CitationCadena, Rogelio. 2022. How Are 'We' Living? Reevaluating the Chicago Boulevard System. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractAt its inception, the Chicago Boulevard System was heralded a civic “success” as it connected the city through a “magnificent chain of parks and parkways,” and provided ample space for carriage transportation and leisure activities for a certain class of Chicago’s residents. But what have we today? Or in the words of notable planner Daniel H. Burnham, “How are we living?” This thesis explores what are the Chicago Boulevard Systems’ past, current, and future purposes as a connection infrastructure within the city. A dive into archival documents, along with GIS data and a set of semi-structured interviews with users of the boulevard and local nonprofit organizations in the adjacent community areas, allows us to address the boulevard’s current underutilization, the city’s evolving social-economic and racial color lines, and propose a process-inclusionary framework that connects and supports neighborhood and city constituents at both the macro and microscales of the city. The resulting propositions generated during this process suggest that while the city of Chicago intends to fund and distribute resources unto the boulevard, through programs like the ‘Open Boulevards’ pilot, a productive mechanism for the control of this funding must be established with the explicit involvement of existing neighborhood representatives. In an attempt to reframe this program's generative potential, two sections of the boulevard have been examined. Local non-profits from the community areas surrounding Franklin & Garfield Boulevard were interviewed and helped produce both micro and macro-scale propositions to the boulevard like the introduction of a unified public transportation network connecting the entire boulevard system with mobility stations. At the micro-scale, organizations surrounding Garfield Boulevard focused discussions on workforce potential, food scarcity and reclamation of cultural narratives. Along Franklin, a concern for infrastructures supporting existing organizational centers and programs along with housing concerns were discussed. Through a design proposal, these suggestions were applied on site with the use of a kit of parts assembly of modular objects that serve as temporary placemaking tools. Depending on what the programing intentions were, these kit of part objects were organized accordingly. Additionally, a set of lot configurations using these kit of parts were examined in order to best inform how vacant and abandoned lots surrounding the boulevards can be used as testing grounds for programming ideas. Succesful lot configurations have the potential to be deployed within the community through more permanent measures with directive funding allocation.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37371657