Is Chicagoland’s best public place in Austin?

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Many of the area’s most cherished public spaces are tucked away in the hearts of neighborhoods, known only to local residents. This summer, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) want to shine a spotlight on these special places through the “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland” contest.

From June 2 through July 26, entrants can e-mail original photos or videos showcasing their favorite undiscovered public places across Chicagoland, along with a 250-word-or-less description, to Complete rules and submission criteria guidelines are available at

“Whether your favorite place is a secret garden, hidden courtyard or the reading nook at your local library, show and tell us why it’s special to you and how it contributes to your community,” said MPC Associate Karin Sommer, who manages the Placemaking Chicago project. “What draws you back to the place again and again, and what makes it just as special as more well-known places in your community?”

Four winners will be selected. A committee of Placemaking experts will choose three winners; and the public will determine one winner by online vote between Aug. 9 and Sept. 10, at

Winners’ favorite places may be featured on an exclusive Chicago Architecture Foundation tour in October. Winners also will receive complimentary passes to one of the following Chicagoland institutions:

  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation

Placemaking focuses on the importance of lively neighborhoods and inviting public spaces to residents and communities. Through Placemaking Chicago, the Metropolitan Planning Council is helping municipalities and city and suburban planning agencies incorporate Placemaking principles into their plans. Learn more about Placemaking by watching this short video. For more inspiration, check out this map of last year’s “What Makes Your Place Great?” contest winners at

MPC and Placemaking Chicago are grateful for the generous contributions of our sponsors and donors: The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts and Perkins+Will.

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