Take a parking space on a busy urban street and convert it to a small park, and what do you have? A parklet.  And now Evanston has one, in front of the Hewn Bakery at 810 Dempster St.

It became official this afternoon when Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, assisted by 4th Ward Ald. Donald Wilson, cut the ceremonial ribbon and declared: “This is the first parklet I’ve ever seen, and I’m glad the first parklet I’ve seen is in Evanston.”

The concept of converting a small section of a street into a miniature park began in San Francisco in 2005 and quickly spread to Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.

The first parklet in Chicago popped up about a year ago in the Andersonville section of the city at 5228 N. Clark St.

Among the first users of the parklet are Petrick, Matthei, King, and Simpson.

The idea caught the fancy of Hewn co-owners Julie Matthei and Ellen King, who launched a Kickstarter campaign on the internet and quickly raised $15,426 from 159 contributors, which exceeded their $14,000 goal.

The Hewn parklet was designed by Evanston architect Julie Petrick and constructed by Scott Simpson Builders of Northbrook. Basic construction materials used were reclaimed wood and corrugated tin.

Simpson explained that the parklet was built in sections so that it can be easily dismantled in October and stored over the winter and then reassembled next spring.

Planters with native plants and herbs from neighboring business Four Finches screens the parklet from the street. Attached to the structure is a bike rack, thereby freeing up the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic.

Top: Ald. Wilson and Mayor Tisdahl with Hewn co-cowners Matthei and King. Behind them is builder Simpson.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Chuck,


    The one parking space went out the window. There are now two parking spaces being used because of poor planning. It appears that the park bench was built according to design but the design was flawed.  It was to fit in one o the spot + the 5 or 6 feet to tihe edge of a driveway. This was a city violation and was banned by the fire department. They slide the bench down about 5 feet and eliminated the revenue from 2 parking meters. There are two things that bother me:

    1. I have never seen the name of the city official that approached Hewn with this idea. We know that it was not Wilson because he said that he did not know what a parklet was.
    2. Somebody must have walked off with the bike rake because I didn't see one.



    1. First Parklet

      I say BRAVO for being a forward-thinking, family-friendly, new idea-trying kind of city!  This kind of innovation makes Evanston the desirable home it is.  IMO,  boo to naysayers who manage to always find SOMETHING to complain about.   Go Evanston!


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