Great places in Logan Square

Logan Square Farmers MarketNew Wave Coffee. El Cid’s patio. These are just some of the great places in Logan Square that I’ve mentioned in recent posts. Certainly there are many more.

What Makes Your Place Great? contest

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), in partnership with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), has a What Makes Your Place Great? contest underway to spotlight great public places in Chicago.

What Makes Your Place Great contest

What’s your favorite place in (the) neighborhood?  Chances are it’s a place where your neighbors meet, children play, and friends share benches and coffee; where there are always things to do and people to see.

Neighbors meet:  El Cid’s patio.  Children play:  Logan Boulevard Skate Park.  Friends share benches:  Paseo Prairie Garden.  And coffee:  New Wave Coffee.  Where there are always things to do:  Unity Park.  And people to see:  Logan Square Farmers Market. These are just some of the places in the neighborhood that might be nominated.

Great places define our lives.  They inspire us, relax us, encourage us to sit and talk awhile with our neighbors.  From plazas to beaches, street corners to playgrounds, Chicagoland is a patchwork of thousands of great neighborhood places.

Are you inspired by a neighborhood mural or the Community Book Exchange?  Where is a quiet place you like to relax? Or a bustling place where you engage with your neighbors?  You might choose your block.  Or a bus stop. Or a bar. But choose something.  Logan Square should not be underrepresented.

Contest submissions require a powerful photograph or a compelling video, and I know we have creative forces in the neighborhood that can visually represent a great place.  Submissions also require a description that tells the story of the place. So how do you explain and sufficiently represent that great Logan Square place?

Here are some ways to inspire you to think about a place and what makes it great:

Party metaphor

Many of the things that make for a great party make for a great place, whether you’re the party guest or the host.  You want to triangulate activity by placing the food in one spot, the drinks in another, and something like karaoke in another.  You want the place to feel warm and inviting visually and aurally.  You want something to do, whether you’re the one dancing with the lamp shade on or people-watching from your safe place along the wall.  You want to have enough space for everyone, but not so much room that the place looks empty.

Power of 10

PPS uses the concept of the Power of 10 to start people thinking about what makes a place great.

A great place needs to have at least 10 things to do in it or 10 reasons to be there.  These could include, for instance, a place to sit, art to touch, music to hear, food to purchase, historic information to learn about, and books to read.

Don’t get caught up in the actual number.  It could be 10, it could be 11, or it could be five.  Here’s an example of the Power of 10 downtown in Daley Plaza:

Power of 10 example

Place attributes

As I wrote in “Historic” Milwaukee Avenue, PPS has identified some key attributes of a great place that may help you think about the great place you have in mind:  Comfort & Image can include things like the history and charm of a place.  Access & Linkages may include things like proximity to a neighborhood hub and how well you can “read” the place or figure out what’s what and what’s where.  Uses & Activities focuses on the actual planned use of a place, such as for commerce or celebration.  While Sociability’s focus is on intangibles, such as how welcoming a place feels and whether it appears cared for.


Parts of a building

Whether the place is indoors or out, you may be able to describe what makes it great for you in terms of parts of a building.  Is there an entryway/entrance or front porch/foyer/transition that draws you in?  Are there different rooms/spaces that attract different uses?  How do the walls/enclosures shape the place and how you feel in it?  What can you see from the windows/views?

A conversation starter:  What’s your favorite place in Logan Square?  and what makes it great?  Share here and provide feedback to others so we can flush out some of the nuances of Logan Square’s great places to contribute to more powerful and compelling submissions.  Share opportunities or vantage points to photograph and video our great places.*  The contest runs until late July, so there is time to share.

Montanez peace image

Summer diversions in Logan Square:

Bring your own paints and canvas or join in a collective painting at Plant Peace, Harvest Justice!, the first of three summer Live Art Events, on Sunday, June 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at Paseo Prairie Garden (northwest corner of Logan Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue).

*What a great opportunity to take some photos or video for the What Makes Your Place Great? contest.


3 Responses to Great places in Logan Square

  1. Dulce Ramos says:


  2. Dulce Ramos says:

    Cafe Con Leche!!
    This is–by far, the BEST coffee shop in Logan Square.
    Cafes are supposed to be about the coffee, yet this is where so many coffee shops fall short!

    The constant in and out of this location shows just how amazing their coffee is. For $1.91 you can get your very own cafe con leche…I usually ask for it extra hot and dark…They don’t charge for an extra shot if you just say you want it dark.

    Also, they humor me and make my own breakfast taco creation when I order it. Steak taco, with an egg over easy, add onion and avocado. Try it with their red sauce—-YUMMMMYYYY!!!!

    Cafe con Leche is also perfect for people watching.
    You can see just how diverse our Logan Square is by sitting there for half an hour. We have rainbow colored people under one small roof sharing good food and great coffee!!

    People smile when you walk in there and you will always get the best caffeine blast in town.

    Dulce: How about a speeded up time lapse video of all the people in and out of Cafe con Leche on, say, a Saturday morning, plus interviews with the variety of patrons asking them why they’re there, or keep coming back, or feel comfortable there? ~ Lynn

  3. Thanks for the nice shout-out about our contest. Your suggestions for entries are great. Dulce Ramos, start snapping photos of Cafe Con Leche and send them in. Your comment that it’s a great place to people watch and appreciate Logan Square’s diversity is just one example of what this contest is highlighting about great public places.

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