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  #21  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 2:56 PM
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^ I'll add those two to the list. The first post of this thread will be a compilation of nominated towns
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  #22  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 3:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G View Post
Hubbard Woods is tiny. You could isolate a comparable strip from any larger North Shore downtown. I certainly wouldn't categorize it differently than Glencoe or Winnetka.
Not classifiying it different from Winnetka; my list put them in the same bullet point. The two are fairly similar with public squares by the train station and community anchors nearby. Glencoe is more sleepy.

I haven't seen Central Ave in Evanston brought up yet... really nice business district there.

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Really? There are plenty of wealthy suburbs with shit downtowns. Deerfield had an opportunity not too long ago to make their downtown more inviting but totally blew it with the arrangement of the massive amount of surface parking they installed.
Well, they just replaced the Commons with another strip mall... basically the same site plan. It's not any worse than it was...
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  #23  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 3:05 PM
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While we are discussing suburban downtown development:

$30 million office/retail project slated for downtown Naperville

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  #24  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:49 PM
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Cool thread. I'm only familar with the SW side downtowns, plus downtown Joliet which is pretty rustbelt-y. I've been to downtown Downers Grove several times and boarded metra there, how does that rank? Small? I love how these downtowns (at least the ones I've been to) feel connected *to* Chicago and not *apart from* Chicago like the old rail commuter suburban downtowns west and sw of St. Louis often feel.
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  #25  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:51 PM
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i don't think anyone has mentioned Park Ridge yet, but if we're including small potatoes places like thrillmette and winnetka in the discussion, then a more substantial downtown like park ridge absolutely has to be included. mount prospect too. and hell, palatine too. if we're gonna include that level of suburban downtown, there are so many to list. lombard, downers grove, wheaton, libertyville, homewood, brookfield, glen ellyn etc. etc. - just take a ride on all of the metra lines.

and urb, if you're adding aurora and elgin for their architectural legacy, then joliet absolutely has to be included in that group too, but i don't have pics unfortunately.



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Originally Posted by Centropolis View Post
I love how these downtowns (at least the ones I've been to) feel connected *to* Chicago and not *apart from* Chicago like the old rail commuter suburban downtowns west and sw of St. Louis often feel.
commuter rail that has grown with its metro area for well over a century is a beautiful thing.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Apr 12, 2012 at 5:16 PM.
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  #26  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:55 PM
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and urb, if you're adding aurora and elgin for their architectural legacy, then joliet absolutely has to be included in that group too, but i don't have pics unfortunately.
I have some holga photos, strangely enough, somewhere at home of downtown Joliet. I remember lots of brawny early twentieth century stuff, including the high school and of course the brawniest biggest small train station i've ever seen, if that makes sense.
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  #27  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 5:24 PM
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Kenosha? [/hometown boosterism]

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  #28  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 5:25 PM
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Steely, Park Ridge has already been mentioned.

Regarding the rest, I guess I'm wondering if the list should be less inclusive since you are right, any suburb with a walkable main st (and I'm guessing there are a lot) would qualify.

Perhaps I should just narrow it down to a "Top ten suburban downtowns" list?

Criteria to consider:

1. Retail and entertainment activity
2. Access to transit
3. Architecture

So what should the top 10 be?
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  #29  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 7:05 PM
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^ evanston is number 1. oak park is number 2.

after that the rankings get far more muddled and less clear to me, though naperville, highland park, and arlington heights get mentioned a lot.
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  #30  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 7:14 PM
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TUP as someone that lives out in McHenry county I would take Woodstock off the list and replace it with Crystal Lake [2 lakes, Crystal Lake and the larger Vulcan lake with beach access ]. An excellent park system. Metra access and much better dining and diversity of dining [ Thai, Indian, like 7 different japanese resturants, ect , shoping, stores, schools 3 High Schools and a private High school,.. It boarders LITH and Algonquin with access to both from the Randal road corridor. Those 3 attached towns have well over 100,000 citizens. There are also two colleges in Crystal Lake.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Lake,_Illinois


Woodstock is a dump IMO. Tuns of section 8.
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  #31  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 7:18 PM
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TUP as someone that lives out in McHenry county I would take Woodstock off the list and replace it with Crystal Lake. Metra access and much better dining and diversity of dining, shoping, stores, schools, Woodstock is a dump IMO.
^ Okay, thanks. Crystal Lake is a new one. I'm no longer adding burbs to the list on page 1 because there are too many, I'd rather just focus on the best ones.

Woodstock earns an honorary designation because of its role in Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies of all time
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  #32  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 8:25 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
^ Okay, thanks. Crystal Lake is a new one. I'm no longer adding burbs to the list on page 1 because there are too many, I'd rather just focus on the best ones.

Woodstock earns an honorary designation because of its role in Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies of all time
I think ardecila already said something along these lines, but, if you haven't done so yet, you should take Green Bay Road from Lake Bluff through Evanston. It really gives you a sense of how connected the downtowns of the North Shore are. Along Green Bay itself—in between the more prominent business districts—are strips (not strip malls) of retail and other businesses. It kinda feels like one long commercial road punctuated by some parks and residential areas. On your way back, you can take Sheridan (if you've never done so) and enjoy what is, in my opinion, one of the most scenic drives in the country. Just don't get into an accident gawking at the architecture of the lakeside manors, as I always almost do.
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  #33  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2012, 2:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G View Post
I think ardecila already said something along these lines, but, if you haven't done so yet, you should take Green Bay Road from Lake Bluff through Evanston.
better yet, ditch the car and take a bike ride through the downtowns of the northshore along the green bay bike trail, something i've done my entire life (born and raised in wilmette).
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  #34  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2012, 7:57 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Steely, Park Ridge has already been mentioned.

Regarding the rest, I guess I'm wondering if the list should be less inclusive since you are right, any suburb with a walkable main st (and I'm guessing there are a lot) would qualify.

Perhaps I should just narrow it down to a "Top ten suburban downtowns" list?

Criteria to consider:

1. Retail and entertainment activity
2. Access to transit
3. Architecture

So what should the top 10 be?
I made a list of amenities that I was looking for in my search for the ideal (suburban) downtown.

Absolutely needed to have:
Metra station
Full-service grocery store
Movie theater
Bookstore
Coffeeshops
Restaurants

Good, but not essential
CTA el station
Post Office
Green space/park
Library

I think the most limiting requirements in the won't compromise category are the movie theater and grocery. Every downtown has coffee shops and restaurants, but few have a functioning movie theater and grocery store. OP even has two if you count the Whole Foods across the street in River Forest. Obviously the CTA requirement rules out all but OP and Evanston. Living within drunken stumbling distance of downtown OP, I'm probably a bit biased, but I can't think of any major category that it is missing.
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  #35  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2012, 11:47 PM
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Obviously the CTA requirement rules out all but OP and Evanston.
What about Skokie, Forest Park, and Wilmette?
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  #36  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2012, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
What about Skokie, Forest Park, and Wilmette?
True, they do have CTA stations within their corporate limits, but I don't think any of them have the station within their downtown area (please correct me if I'm mistaken.) FP's 2 el stations are both almost half a mile from Madison St, the de facto leading commercial strip for FP. Of course these burbs are still better off that not having any el access at all.

Last edited by sukwoo; Apr 14, 2012 at 1:16 AM.
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  #37  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2012, 3:22 AM
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^ skokie's downtown will soon have a yellow line el stop when the new oakton station finally opens, which I believe is any day now. Skokie is not served by metra though.

Downtown wilmette has a metra station, but the end of the line linden stop on the purple line is about 1 mile east of downtown wilmette. There is a modest commercial district around the linden stop, but it's certainly distinct from downtown wilmette.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Apr 14, 2012 at 4:45 AM.
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  #38  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 3:23 PM
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Anybody want to weigh in on Skokie (ie Touhy Ave)? Correct me if I'm wrong, but much of the walkable main st-style portions of Touhy are in Skokie right?
I'm not sure where you got the idea that Touhy is walkable in Skokie. Touhy doesn't even have real sidewalks in places where it passes through Skokie. The real walkable areas of Skokie are all to the North along Lincoln Ave and Oakton.

Touhy is a bombed out hell hole in places except for maybe a few blocks where it is lined by a few retail stores and 60's ranch homes.
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  #39  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 4:03 PM
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^ yep, downtown skokie is unquestionably centered around oakton/lincoln/niles center, though the vast bulk of retail activity in skokie actually takes place up at old orchard.
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  #40  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 6:53 PM
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Touhy is a bombed out hell hole in places except for maybe a few blocks where it is lined by a few retail stores and 60's ranch homes.
^ In which town is Touhy a more main st style road? I've been by that area a few times but never was too sure where I was at the time.
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