Principle: You are never finished
In the 1940s, the neighborhood of Lincoln Square in Northwest Chicago was home to a thriving business district full of locally owned hotels, banks, and retail stores. Easily accessible by train, yet away from the grit of downtown Chicago, the neighborhood attracted a strong base of residents to support its locally owned businesses.
Lincoln Square was similar to other urban neighborhoods of the time. What is unique is Lincoln Square managed to maintain its vibrant, unique character through decades of urban neglect and economic changes. This stability is due, in large part, to a group of volunteer businessmen who recognized the strength of the neighborhood and ensured its sustainability by creating the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce in 1948.
For the past 60 years, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce has positioned itself as the center of neighborhood activity. Decades of building and maintaining connections to neighborhood residents and businesses has allowed the Chamber to represent community wishes and maintain a strong business district. Melissa Flynn, executive director of the Chamber, said the goal of the organization is to “focus on improving the quality of life for Lincoln Square through cultural, educational and sustainable activities.”
Through collaboration with Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th Ward), a strong advocate for the neighborhood, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce works with residents to provide community programming such as free summer concerts, festivals, sidewalk fairs, and garden walks, many of which are held in Giddings Plaza. Located on Lincoln Avenue between Lawrence and Leland avenues, Giddings Plaza boasts the Giddings Square fountain, a maypole, murals and statues. Often considered the heart of Lincoln Square, Giddings Plaza is a place for the community to gather for holiday festivities, wedding celebrations, or informal chats over coffee. Through the efforts of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, Ald. Schulter, and an engaged community, the unique character of Giddings Plaza and Lincoln Square will continue to exist for generations.