Central Street (Evanston, Illinois)
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|Length||24.02 mi (38.66 km)|
|West end||Barrington Road, South Barrington|
|East end||Sheridan Road, Evanston (1800 W)|
Central Street is the principal east-west artery in the far north of Evanston, Illinois and is a major thoroughfare in other northern and northwest suburbs of Chicago. It is the longest east-west road in the city of Evanston, where it stretches for over two miles (3 km) from the city limits west of Crawford Avenue to its eastern intersection with Sheridan Road near the historic Grosse Point Lighthouse. West of Evanston, the street begins at Barrington Road (26 miles west of State Street) in South Barrington and runs westward intermittently through various municipalities, where it is alternately known as Central Road, Central Parkway, and, along the Skokie/Wilmette border, Central Street. The street is located at 2600 N in the Evanston grid system and 10100 N in the Chicago grid system.
History and name
Central Street has been extensively served by mass transit for over a century. The Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad began service from Chicago to Waukegan in 1855. The Chicago and North Western Railway took over the line in 1866, and the Central Street station (at Green Bay Road) still stands today as a Metra stop on the Union Pacific/North Line.
An Evanston trolley system operated electric streetcars down Central Street from 1897 to 1935. Light rail service connecting the neighborhood with Chicago reached Central Street in 1908, when the right-of-way of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, a would-be competitor of the CN&W, on tracks a half-mile east, was leased to a trolley company. Today the north-south line is operated by the CTA, which maintains a Central Street stop on the Purple Line. In rush hours there is express service to the Loop.
Four different bus routes serve the neighborhood, with two running directly down Central Street itself.
Central Street is classified by the Illinois Department of Transportation as an unmarked state-maintained road. The street is wide enough in portions for four lanes and contains sections that are part of Evanston's bicycle plan. The community takes an active interest in bicycling as transportation, including as part of multi-modal transportation. Sections of Central Street were striped in 2010 for dedicated bike lanes.
Evanston's 2000 Comprehensive General Plan identified the Central Street "corridor" as a location for increased residential density because of the mass transit availability, but noted that "sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhoods" would be essential to prevent over-congestion and incompatible design; the same study identified Central Street as an area where there was already a significant shortage of parking.
The Central Street district is frequently referred to as "unique," even in Evanston city code, which refers to "diverse, unique, small-scale, pedestrian-oriented retail shops, services and restaurants." Regional publications, the real estate industry, and travel publications take note of the "specialty shops and restaurants" that exist in a walkable environment with an eclectic, vintage "small-town feel."
The shopping district is a destination that draws customers from outside the area; a 2005 study done for the Village of Wilmette identified the "core" of Central Street (identified as the shopping area around the intersection of Central Street and Green Bay Road) as a direct competitor of the Green Bay Road Corridor in Wilmette, that "attracts many residents from southeast Wilmette for basic shopping." The local merchants have their own association and a Facebook page that lists many businesses.
Culture and art
The Central Street district includes a number of art galleries and antique stores. It is home to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and the Evanston Art Center. Since 1952 the North Branch of the Evanston library system has been located on Central Street. A large and active community organization, the Central Street Neighbors Association, maintains an interactive website with neighborhood and cultural news.
Development and zoning issues
In 2004, the potential overdevelopment of Central Street became an issue after the construction of several new multi-use, multi-story buildings up to the limit of the lot line, larger in scale than the vast majority that housed existing businesses. Residents generally opposed the potential "canyonization" of the street. Canyonization of the street became an issue in the 2005 municipal election. After a year of activism by residents and numerous municipal and ward meetings, the City of Evanston in November 2005, amended its zoning ordinance to create a new "B1a" district, extending for several blocks on the western portion of Central Street, "characterized by having reduced building height and residential density."
Evanston Theatre redevelopment
In 2006 a development team requested a site development allowance and special use permit from the City Council in order to demolish a structure on the 1700 block of Central, east of Green Bay road, housing the shuttered Evanston Theatre, a restaurant, and a number of storefronts, to make way for a 5-story, 51-unit mixed-use condominium development. After the developers modified the proposal to four stories, with upper floors stepped back slightly from the street, the Council approved the project in February 2007, over neighbors' objections.
Central Street Master Plan
In response to some of the previous controversies, the City of Evanston in the winter of 2006–07 began a long-urged comprehensive planning of Central Street. A Master Plan was adopted in June 2007, and ordinances passed in January 2008 that re-zoned the corridor, including the first steps toward form-based code in Evanston.
Fourth of July parade
Central Street serves as the route for the Evanston Fourth of July parade. Evanston has held the parade since 1922, when it was started by a North Evanston mothers' group. The parade attracts about 10,000 spectators each year, and Country Home magazine ranked it as the third-best Fourth of July celebration in 2003. The parade became a subject of local controversy in the early 2000s due to attendees who put chairs, tape, and other markers along the route weeks ahead of time. Central Street residents became irritated at the chairs, and many complained to the city government about the issue. The city responded by passing an ordinance which prohibited residents from placing chairs and blankets along the parade route prior to July 1; city workers would remove any items placed earlier. The ordinance also outlawed the use of rope or tape to reserve a spot.
- The Lakota Group; Gewalt Hamilton & Assoc.; Infrastructure Engineering Inc. (June 2007). "City of Evanston – Central Street Planning". Evanston, Illinois – Central Street Master Plan. Evanston, Illinois: City of Evanston. pp. 1.3, 1.4. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- Messenger, Janet G. (2009). The Streets of Evanston. Purple Line Press. p. 28.
- Hughes, Jim (January 20, 2008). "Central looking west from Green Bay circa 1910". Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Smith, Jeff (August 30, 2008). "A Century of Light Rail in North Evanston". Central Street Neighbors Association. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- "CTA Purple Line schedule (Central)" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved 2008-12-17.[dead link]
- "Public Transportation". Central Street Neighbors Association. February 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- "Evanston Area Bike Map". City of Evanston. Retrieved 2011-05-04. "The bicycle rack at the Central Street Metra is usually completely full"
- "Search / Central Street Neighbors Association". centralstreetneighbors.com. Central Street Neighbors Association. Retrieved 2011-05-04. "The bicycle rack at the Central Street Metra is usually completely full"
- "Bike Lanes on Central Street, Evanston". Central Street Neighbors Association. October 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Evanston Comprehensive General Plan, Adopted by the Evanston City Council May 8, 2000" (PDF), Evanston, Illinois: City of Evanston, May 8, 2000, pp. 39, 104–06, retrieved 2008-12-15
- "Central Street Business Association – Home". Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- "Summary of Central Street Plan Zoning Ordinances". Central Street Neighbors Association. February 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Hartong, Jason (June 11, 2008). "Evanston's Central Street". Chicago North Shore Home & Beyond. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- Hartong, Jason. "Evanston's Central Street". North Shore and Evanston Examiner. Retrieved 2008-12-13.[dead link]
- "Our Evanston- Green Bay Road Office". Koenig & Strey. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- Valerie S. Kretchmer Associates, Inc.; Hitchcock Design Group; T.Y. Lin Assoc. (June 3, 2005). "Green Bay Road Corridor Study" (PDF). Village of Wilmette: 27, 29–30. Retrieved 2008-12-18.[dead link]
- "Central Street, Evanston". facebook.com. October 13, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "History of EPL". Evanston Public Library. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "North Branch". Evanston Public Library. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "Evanston Public Library – North Branch in Evanston, IL / LibraryThing Local". Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Central Street Neighbors Association. "Who We Are / Central Street Neighbors Association". Retrieved 2012-06-02. "Central Street Neighbors Association (CSNA) is a non-profit membership group formed to promote and preserve the vitality and quality of life of the Central Street Neighborhood in Evanston, Illinois."
- "Minutes, Evanston Plan Commission" (PDF). City of Evanston. January 19, 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-16.[dead link]
- Olson, Laura (February 25, 2005). "Clash of the candidates in debates". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- "Minutes, Evanston Plan Commission, Wednesday, November 9, 2005" (PDF). City of Evanston. Retrieved 2008-12-15.[dead link]
- "2005 City Council Meeting Minutes – Archive" (PDF). City of Evanston. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Cox, Brian (February 14, 2007). "Evanston Theater to give way to condos and shops; City OKs project despite opposition". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Smith, Bill (February 21, 2007). "Council Approves 4-Story Project for Old Movie Theaters". Evanston Roundtable. Retrieved 2008-12-16.[dead link]
- Smith, Jeff (January 19, 2005). "Neighbors Oppose Binge Development". Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- "City of Evanston – Central Street Planning Files". City of Evanston. Retrieved 2008-12-15.[dead link]
- Smith, Jeff (February 11, 2008). "Summary of Central Street Plan Zoning Ordinances". CSNA. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Brachear, Manya (July 3, 2004). "Parade of chairs doesn't sit well in Evanston". Chicago Tribune.
- Evanston City Code §7-2-9
- Central Street Neighbors Association
- Central Street Business Association
- Central Street, Evanston Facebook page