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Lake Shore Drive Rush Hour, February 2018

Lake Shore Drive. Nice road. Lousy location. Built and maintained to serve Chicago’s wealthy. 

Bust of Potter Palmer house in the Art Institute.

Lake Shore Drive. Nice road. Lousy location. Built and maintained to serve Chicago’s wealthy.  Lake Shore Drive from its earliest days provided entertainment, enjoyment and ease of travel for Chicago’s monied class. As an unpaved trail after the fire until 1882, LSD was a place to see and be seen for the well-heeled one-percenters. The path meandered along the lake providing beautiful views and access to beaches once unreachable by most people. Potter Palmer, enjoyed money, fame and influence. He squatted in the Potter Mansion in 1882. It was the largest and some say the most opulent residence at the time in Chicago. Old Potter needed a convenient way to get downtown. No brainer. He built the patch of LSD that runs from the Gold Coast to State Street.


He was a busy man and worked hard. Think Palmer House Hotel. He was one of the founders of Marshal-Field. He especially enjoyed art created in his likeness. Over the years the LSD has been widened and lengthened, initially to serve the well-to-do, but eventually benefitting tens of thousands of Chicagoans. The Illinois Department of Transportation estimates 150,000 vehicles use LSD on workdays. In terms of transportation of course LSD makes sense, but how about in terms of its location skirting the shoreline of Lake Michigan for 16 miles. Imagine the lake without LSD. There are some plans to improve Lake Shore Drive and access to the beaches by moving parts of the road. Ambitious. 

I need to point out that Potter Palmer was far from evil. The Palmer family was one of  Chicago’s greatest and visionary benefactors. 




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