Three-year-old Harlow Phillips has a head start on becoming an architect.
Harlow was carefully piecing blocks together at Fountain Square on Saturday morning, making sure her Jenga tower did not fall down.
Harlow’s parents, Bob and Ashley Phillips, biked down from their home in Wilmette (with Harlow in tow) to enjoy Games & Eats on the Square.
That event, along with a chalk art contest, and the annual sidewalk sale, concided with the launch of Downtown Evanston’s rebranding of downtown Evanston.
The new message, “Your Town. Downtown,” will go up around the commercial core as companies, organizations, and individuals buy banners for light poles.
“We want everyone to feel like this is everyone’s downtown,” said Annie Coakley, executive director of the Downtown Evanston marketing organization, the group behind the image campaign and banners. (Those banners can also be customized to include a business name or slogan).
Across the street from the square, Ally Pullinger was creating a chalk art picture on the sidewalk in front of Gearhead Outfitters outdoor store where she works.
Pullinger said downtown business is a challenge these days, “because you rely on walk-by traffic,” which is down since the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020.
She said events like the chalk art contest and games on the square attract potential customers “to see what’s here.” The annual sidewalk sale also helps.
A few blocks down on Davis Street, middle schoolers were putting together their sidewalk chalk contest entries in front of the One River art school.
Eleven-year-old Ava Gass enjoyed collaborating with her friends on the picture, which includes the lighthouse and the phrase “Evanston Pride.”
“Evanston is known for the lighthouse,” Ava explained. And in this case, it is “shining the light on the pride flag.”
“Evanston is a part of us,” she added.
But Evanston, downtown in particular, needs more shoppers.
“Without the daytime population [of office workers],” Coakley noted, “we’re in trouble.”
So, recently, Coakley attended a networking event at Chicago’s Fulton Market, to interact with 400 commercial real estate brokers, and sell them on the idea of Evanston.
If Chicago-based businesses want to downsize, Coakley said, “Evanston is the perfect fit.”
Three-year-old Harlow was able to make the perfect fit for her Jenga blocks.
If only it was so easy for a city.