Friday, July 22, 2005

Originally uploaded by .Kerri..

I can't remember if this is the Congress St. bridge, but it's one of them on the south branch of the Chicago River. We went under several on an architectural boat cruise...I can't count how many times the docent pointed to an historic building and said "it has since been developed into retail space and condos." And thinking about Daniel Burnham and Montgomery Ward and all the other civic-minded city planners at the end of the 19th century who fought for parks, greenspaces, promenades, etc. What would they think of this? Public spaces (in the States anyway) don't seem to be valued as much as they once were, so civic planning seems to be a matter of selling desirable locations that have traditionally been public ways, in this case, the riverfront, to those who would wall them off as private, individual space. How sad that this is what city officials proudly point to as preservation. One of the few spaces that has been somewhat successfully preserved- that is, its function preserved as well as its aesthetic features- is the The Fine Arts Building. It's not where you'd go to take in the most interesting or innovative work- except for the Nancarrow concert for four hands in an intimate piano showroom last fall- but at least it hasn't been gutted and turned into condos.


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