City officials announce events, street activations to draw residents and visitors back downtown

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city officials announced on Thursday the Central City Recovery Roadmap, which is a guide meant to encourage Chicago residents and visitors to come back downtown this summer and fall.

"Our city cannot fully bounce back from the pandemic until the cultural, retail and financial engines that power our economy are able to return at full capacity," said Mayor Lightfoot. 

The Central City Recovery Roadmap is designed to implement actions across sectors of Chicago that will help the city recover over the next several years. 

The city said there are four overlapping and integrated themes that were identified to ensure flexibility and stability in Chicago's recovery.

Those themes include:

  • Communication and spreading the word on achieving a safe, rapid recovery and that Chicago is open.
  • Activating spaces and creating a splash for Chicago, intensifying civic and public life.
  • Getting people back downtown, maximizing workers, residents, shoppers and visitors in the Central City.
  • Investing in services and capital projects, a vision for the Central City and wider structural issues – social, economic, or fiscal.

Roadmap planning started in the fall of 2020 and included more than 150 participants from large and small companies and corporations, Broadway in Chicago representatives and venue operators, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, property owners, resident and community organizations, members of City Council and other stakeholders. 

Roadmap sub-committees focused their attention on economy and commerce, culture and tourism, transportation and mobility as well as residents and community, the city said.

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Key strategies in creating the roadmap included safe, reliable public transit, enhanced pedestrian and bike infrastructure, new events from community-based organizations and long-term strategic planning for key arterials.

"The goal of the Central City Recovery Roadmap is to coordinate implementable actions across sectors to achieve a strong summer reopening that leads into full economic recovery over the next several years," said Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Chicago.

The City of Chicago said it is also partnering with major civic organizations to activate Michigan Avenue, LaSalle Street and State Street with temporary street closures, arts and cultural programming and outdoor dining.

These new programs include "Meet Me on The Mile," sponsored by The Magnificent Mile Association, "Lunch on LaSalle," sponsored by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago) and "Sundays on State," sponsored by the Chicago Loop Alliance.

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"Meet Me on The Mile" will invite residents and tourists downtown for performances, family activities, Instagrammable installations, dining and shopping.

"The Magnificent Mile has always been an integral part of Chicago for residents and tourists alike, and a driver of economic growth and opportunity in the heart of the city. We’re thrilled to invite visitors back to the Mag Mile this summer to experience its vibrancy and magic in new and surprising ways with ‘Meet Me on The Mile," said Dan Russell, Chair of The Magnificent Mile Association.

"Lunch on LaSalle" will create a pop-up space that will give downtown workers, residents and visitors the opportunity to dine and relax on LaSalle Street, the city said.

Lunch on LaSalle | Courtesy: City of Chicago

On various Tuesdays over lunch this summer, parts of LaSalle Street will be closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into an outdoor dining boulevard.

"As employees return to their offices downtown, we’re excited to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy ‘Lunch on LaSalle’ – connecting with colleagues and friends on the street right in the historic heart of Chicago’s financial district," said BOMA’s executive director, Farzin Parang.

"Sundays on State" will transform State Street from Madison to Lake into an open street on Sundays, starting on July 11. 

The first event will include live music from bluegrass and jazz bands, a brass ensemble and a DJ. 

Additionally, throughout the summer, there will be performances by the Joffrey Ballet, aerial performances, Irish dancers, a "micro-marathon" for kids, outdoor dining, on-street retail, among other things.

Those interested in attending these free events can register now at LoopChicago.com/Sundays.

"We are excited to see visitors and employees beginning to return to the central city and Chicago’s Loop, after a challenging year for all of us. ‘Sundays on State’ will offer the perfect opportunity for connection and celebration as the City continues its full reopening and recovery," said Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards.