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.
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.