Streeterville Walks welcomes newcomers to the area
by Stephanie Racine
Streeterville Walks, a social walking program of Streeterville Neighborhood Advocates, has been around for nearly six years.
Craig Kaiser, who organizes the walks, started the program as a neighborhood watch endeavor. But he noticed people who came on watch were much more interested in the social aspect, so the walk evolved.
The walk was then focused on hidden gems including public art, architecture, and businesses. Now, Streeterville Walks adds a different angle: welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood.
“We will introduce new people to the highlights of living [in Streeterville], including the usual history, art and architecture but also pointing out the great amenities like groceries, coffee shops, child care, pet care, parks etc.,” Kaiser said.
The first of these neighborhood welcome walks took place on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. The group met at the plaza next to the new Apple Store, on Michigan Avenue, just north of the river. Kaiser figured the recognizable location, plus the surrounding architecture, was a good place to start for newcomers.
New residents come to Streeterville frequently. With schools and hospitals in the area, including Northwestern Law and Northwestern Hospital, there’s a preponderance of newcomers every year. According to Kaiser, more than thirty thousand people live in Streeterville, along with ten thousand dogs.
On the first walk, Kaiser took note of classic Streeterville lore, mentioning the story of its founder—George Wellington “Cap” Streeter. He also pointed out definitive restaurants in Streeterville, such as Robert’s Pizzeria, Yolk, and Lizzie McNeil’s. He spouted little-known architectural factoids, including the ordinance that Tribune Tower will always have an uninterrupted view of the lake.
Christian and Janet Silge moved to Streeterville from Lake Forest about six months ago. “We were looking for a way to get to know the neighborhood a bit better,” said Christian Silge. They happened upon the Streeterville Walk on the neighborhood app NextDoor and have been happy with the experience.
“We love the fact that each walk has a different focus and we are always excited to learn some new tidbit of information or some historical significance of a street, building, park, monument, mural, or other artwork” said Silge.
The couple is happy to be more educated about the community and look forward to future walks. “Who knows, maybe we will lead some future walks ourselves,” said Silge.
Kaiser is hoping to partner with real estate agents in the area who sell or rent to newcomers, so they will have an opportunity to go on a walk and learn about the neighborhood, while also meeting their neighbors.
For more information about the Streeterville Walks program, email SNA60611@gmail.com, or join their official Streeterville Neighborhood Advocates Facebook group.