The City of Chicago has celebrated the grand opening of the Winthrop Garden POP! Plaza at 4628 N Winthrop Avenue in Uptown. Located on the short back road just north of the intersection between N Kenmore Avenue and W Wilson Avenue, the new space replaces an existing community garden which has stood in its place for nearly 20 years. Building off of the upcoming Platform 4611 apartments, the efforts were led by the neighborhood run Uptown United along with the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.
The existing space comes with a long history dating back to pre-World War II, when various segregation laws and land covenants made the 4600 block of North Winthrop Avenue as the only block in Uptown where African Americans could live according to Explore Uptown. Thus the residents of the area formed a tight collaborative bond and called themselves the ‘Winthrop Avenue Family’, and although only one resident remains today, in the early 2000s the surrounding residents decided to start a garden.
Now it received a makeover via the Public Outdoor Plaza (POP!) program which has recently opened various locations including the upcoming POP! Heights park. Visually anchoring the lot will be a new mural by local artist Mauricio Ramirez on the wall of Platform 4611, with the ground being painted in a colorful chevron pattern which will have elevated planters along it. Two containers will hold garden storage and a bar with outdoor seating in a flex space. Signage on the history of the area and the Winthrop Avenue Family will also be included.
Finishing off the space will be the existing parking lot which received a colorful strip makeover and will be able to hold food trucks, vendor tents, and host small events under string lighting. The design efforts for the garden were carried out by MKSK and Human Scale, both of which specialize in similar public projects. Those wishing to visit may do so by bus service on CTA Routes 36, 78, 81 and 151 as well as the CTA Red and Purple Lines at the Wilson stop all within a five-minute walk.