Local officials including the mayor and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) turned out this morning to promote Streets Alive!, a mile-long block party planned for Sunday, Sept. 7.

The event, organized by Citizens’ Greener Evanston and the city, will close Main Street to car traffic from 1 to 6 p.m. that day from Hinman Avenue to the Robert Crown Center.

The “open street” event will feature an array of activities from talent shows to hula-hooping, a giant chess board, local performing artists and food trucks.

Biss said the event will be symbolic of efforts to address “a whole circle of issues” ranging from the environmental benefits of reducing reliance on cars to achieving a more healthy lifestyle.

Many forces in society effectively demand that people have cars to have jobs now, Biss said, which creates a major burden on the less affluent.

And, he added, the increased density that results from more walkable communities can be a major factor in encouraging economic growth and prosperity.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the event would both help the city reach its goals for reducing its carbon footprint and give residents an opportunity to have some fun.

Last year a pilot project for the new initiative closed a portion of Dempster Street to cars for part of a day.

More information about the event is available online, and there’s an online fundraising campaign as well.

Update 8/8/14 11:11 a.m.: A map distributed at the news conference indicates that north-south traffic will be permitted at Main Street’s intersections with Chicago, Ridge, Asbury and Florence avenues during the event. Except for Florence, all of those are signalized intersections.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation



    If this is a mile long block party, it means they will block off Chicago Ave., Ridge, Asbury, and every other north/south street along  the way. This would be extremely stupid but not surprising considering the people involved. 

    They would never do this on the mayor's street because her crowd would never stand for it. Why don't they do this on the lake or in a park and not cause a large portion of the Evanston citizens angry.

    1. Great Idea!

      This is great!  I live just off of Main Street and am glad that I will be able to walk or ride my bike on Main without worrying about being hit by a car.  

      To Skipw, One of the aldermen actually lives right on a street being impacted and that person is a great enthusiast for the project.

      Try doing some active exercise that day!

    2. Not so stupid

      Actually, no, they will not block any of the streets you mention. The reason it's not happening at the park or lake is because the whole idea is to open up the street as public space.

      1. Thank You

        Now I’m convinced this is a wasteful thing that will PO a lot of people and now I know that it is not a mile long block party. I hope nobody runs out in front of a car and gets hurt.

        1. Block Party

          Biss's time would be better spent doing the job for which he was elected – holding Cullerton's coat. Seriously, why not block off Central Street!

          1. Main More Nuanced

            Consider the neighborhood changes that occur–some, block by block–as one walks east or west from the boundaries planned for this mile-long block party. It will certainly impact a more economically, racially, and socially diverse group of Evanstonians than would a Central Street version. 

    3. Relax…

      5 hours on a Sunday.

      I think we will all make it through this 'huge' inconvenience. You may even find that you enjoy the walk.

      Never ceases to amaze me how much negative energy people exert over perceived inconveniences.

      5 hours on a Sunday. Relax. It will be over before you know it.

    4. FYI

      If you don't know where the mayor lives then you need to sit back and close your mouth. The mayor lives on a stret that is not even a whole block long.

      People need to deal with change and be happy sometimes. It's a Sunday!

  2. main street party

    We've had months of potholes followed by days of the Custer Street Fair with a sound stage planted right in a residential neighborhood.  Why not another chaotic event?   The lakefront is just to the east with plenty of space for whatever this is.

    1. more than just a party!

      As a community we pay a great deal to maintain our roads. What a shame if we used them only for driving and parking, when they have so many other important uses! 

      We promise that Streets Alive will be an event unlike any Evanston has seen. Unlike Custer Fair, there will be room to move around freely. Unlike Bike the Ridge, the street will be open to everything other than driving, not just biking. Unlike a block party, the event is a mile long and therefore emphasizes actively moving ourselves through space. Unlike a jog at the park, this is where we live. This is our shared space, our local businesses.

      We invite you to experience something new. We think almost everyone will love it, and only a few will hate it. Please feel free to contact the Streets Alive team with your questions and concerns. See you September 7th on Main Street!

      1. Other events

        Careful about comparing this block party, first year, with other Evanston events.  There is no need to compare negatively to Custer and Bike Ridge, why are you trying to compete? Is it a natural tendency of your organization to do this as an activist group?  

        Streets were built for…. Cars and trucks and transportation.  That being said, who is underwriting your event?  Who is paying for the road closures, police, fire, sanitation, etc.?

        I wish you the best of luck… I just think you can market this without demeaning other Evanston events.

          1. Why not north Evanston?

            Seems both your  traffic-blocking events have been in south Evanston. Won't the City allow you to close down Central? Lots more vehicle up there.

          2. maybe next year

            Depending on how it goes this year, we are hoping to do two events next year; one near NU/downtown and one in North or West Evanston. It helps a lot when we are asked to come to a neighborhood; that is why we are on Main Street this year. Please contact us if you are interested: evanstonstreetsalive@gmail.com

          3. Central Never Closes!

            In the entire history of Evanston, no one has ever closed any multi-block stretch of Central Street.

            Except for the Fourth of July Parade. Every year.

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