Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mayor Daley Did A Lot for the City and the Sloop

With Mayor Daley's 22 year term as mayor coming to a close, many pundits are weighing in on his legacy. Blair Kamin from the Chicago Tribune has a great piece on his design legacy on the city. It looks at his shinning moments, his mixed results and his flops. With that said, many of the things discussed are in the neighborhood (or very close):
The Shinning Moments as it pertains to the Sloop:
The Museum Campus—It was one of Daley’s predecessors, Jane Byrne, who floated the idea of forming an uninterrupted, pedestrian-friendly green space for Chicago’s three natural sciences museums. But it was Daley who actually carried out the heroic urban planning act of shifting northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive west of Soldier Field, creating a vast greensward between the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

The 1998 opening of the Museum Campus taught a broader lesson: If we want to move highways to create more humane cityscapes, we possess the ability and the artistry to do so.

The Mixed Results as it pertains to the Sloop:

Meigs Field—Daley’s 2003 “midnight raid” on the lakefront airport achieved the right ends by the wrong means—a naked display of power one might have expected from a dictator.

Destroying Meigs Field, however, was no great sin. It made perfect sense to convert that precious lakefront land back to the use for which Daniel Burnham had originally intended it—as public parkland, open to the many rather than the few.

The Flops:

Soldier Field—The renovation of the lakefront stadium was Daley’s warm-up for Meigs Field. Except, in this case, the ends didn’t justify the means.

By ramming a financing deal for the stadium’s renovation through the Illinois General Assembly, Daley and then-Gov. George Ryan pre-empted debate about whether the Bears should leave Soldier Field. And now Chicago is stuck with a result so disrespectful of the stadium’s historic features that the federal government stripped the renovated Soldier Field of National Historic Landmark status.

While the stadium’s architecturally dynamic seating bowl is remarkably intimate, there’s a downside to the coziness: Chicago, the National Football League’s second largest market, is saddled with the league’s smallest stadium. A better planning process might have produced a more suitable site and an outcome that would have spared us Soldier Field’s terrible trade-offs.

The article doesn't talk about Daley's role the city planning around the development in the South Loop (instead talking about the housing boom in general), but it's believed he had a big role in the Sloop becoming what it is today. Most Sloopers know Daley lives off of Indiana between 14th and 16th and it's not surprise that Indiana usually gets plowed first when it snows here.

There are also many other things Daley has done that might not be in the Sloop but have impacted us. Millennium park has brought people downtown and has served as a bridge for people to come further south than they used to (for recreational purposes). Anyway, in our opinion he's done some amazing things for the city...Rahm's got some big shoes to fill and hopefully he's up for the task. It seems like he is, but we will see.

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