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Wrigley in 2012

This is Wrigley in 2012. Sure looks a lot older in this photo. Probably the b&w more than anything. Taken from the Red Line platform. Go Sox.

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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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Chicago’s “Loop” skyline above 520″

Chicago’s skyline in the loop is dominated by two buildings, Trump Tower and Willis Tower (formerly the Sear’s Tower). The design of the Sear’s Tower remains relevant, strong and continues to serve as a benchmark for highrise construction. Keeping all politics aside (please) will the Trump Tower remain relevant 35 years from now? Certainly, glass and steel is a common design in large American cities, but is Trump distinctive enough to pass the test of time or will it seem dated in a few decades. From my eyes, it’s a stunning beauty right now and helps anchor the Chicago skyline.

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Willis Tower – the building formerly known and loved as the Sears Tower

Muscle and masculinity personified

The Sears Tower construction crews broke ground in 1970 and the building topped off in 1973 becoming the tallest building in the United States, a title that stood for about 25 years. The Venerable architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merril took on project led by architect Bruce Graham and architectural engineer, Fazlur Khan. Khan invented a construction technique utilizing construction tubes. The Sears Tower is actually nine buildings connected to the main tower by Khan’s tubes. Kahn’s engineering brilliance lives on. There is not a skyscraper in the world that doesn’t tip a hat to the engineer.

Sears was once the retail king/queen of the world – the Amazon of shopping in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. . As its business model faded so did its need for office space and the company eventually ended up leaving the legacy landmark. United Airlines is now the largest tenant. Trivia. There are 40,000 fire detectors in the building.

The Sears Tower has a little brother named “Big John” also known as the John Hancock Building. Same architect, same architectural engineer and agency. The Hancock topped off in 1969. Construction on the Sears started in 1970.

Chicago is rich in great architecture, but the Sears Tower and the John Hancock continue to serve as the most identifiable buildings in the city and perhaps the country. Here’s to courage, ingenuity and risk taking in world class Chicago architecture.

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