Is the Oak Park stretch of North Avenue having an identity crisis? Some would say yes.
The commercial corridor is unique, however, in that it links the communities of Oak Park and the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago, says Judith Alexander, chairwoman of the community group The North Avenue District (T-NAD). A gateway sign might help connect the two communities, though.
Alexander said the idea for the gateway sign came from a brainstorming session last year with the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce that aimed to identify what makes the business district unique.
The meeting was attended by T-NAD representatives, North Avenue business owners and residents.
The idea – Alexander noted that it is still just a concept to see what people think – is that it would help bring better recognition to Galewood.
“I thought this would be a great way to help with that, because everybody knows North Avenue,” she said.
She said the idea was inspired by the Puerto Rican flag gateway signs that bookends the Paseo Boricua District of Humboldt Park along Division Street.
“This really helps establish a sense of place,” Alexander said. “We need to do that for the North Avenue District.”
She acknowledged that it’s going to take more than a sign to help improve the fortunes of the business district.
“We have to do a lot of things in addition, so we do have a distinctive district,” Alexander said.