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Roller skates replaced automobile tires in front of the Chicago Theatre on August 22. Photo by Sean Su. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

20-Sep-21 – Turning a stretch of State Street into a pedestrian mall with attractions and activities once a week had a direct economic impact of at least $12 million on businesses and landmarks in the Loop, according to the organizer of the eight-week event.

Chicago Loop Alliance says an average of 67,000 people attended each Sundays on State from July 11 through September 12. Seventy-four percent of them, says CLA, spent an average of $157 before, during, or after the event.

State Street was closed to traffic from Lake to Madison Streets for a “celebration of arts, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping and more.” CLA says attendees came from every Chicago neighborhood and more than 20 states.

“We began the year with an understanding that we’d have to do something big in order to accelerate the Loop’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chicago Loop Alliance President/CEO Michael Edwards. “Hundreds of thousands of Loop workers and tens of millions of visitors stayed home for most of 2020, and we wanted to create a compelling program to safely bring them back downtown, some for the first time since the pandemic hit Chicago.”

Photo by Torque Digital

The average amount spent came from people who had pre-registered for Sundays on State and then filled out a survey after the event.

Photo by Torque Digital

To keep the economic impact estimate cautious, CLA counted only 20 percent of pedestrians at an event. The estimate also took into consideration, for example, people who may have been in the area anyway and would have spent money even if they had not attended a Sundays on State event, or someone spending money on behalf of a family or other group.

“We didn’t want to take credit for every dollar spent by someone in that event area,” explained CLA marketing director Kiana DiStasi.

The alliance says there was a “massive increase” in hotel occupancy in the Loop in July due to major events such as Lollapalooza and the Chicago Auto Show. Pedestrian activity decreased in August and, says CLA, is now about 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

At 32 percent of normal, CLA says office occupancy in the Chicago area is the highest in the nation.