|The New Northerly Island Parkway from the Sky (via Chicago Tribune)|
A dozen years after Mayor Richard M. Daley carried out the infamous “midnight raid” that shut down the small lakefront airport called Meigs Field, the question lingers: Did the end justify the means?
A beguiling landscape that opens to the public Friday at the southern end of the former airport provides a persuasive answer.
As Mayor Rahm Emanuel led a tour Tuesday, great blue herons alighted on a newly created pond, man-made hills screened out the rush of traffic on Lake Shore Drive, and Chicago’s skyline unfurled in the distance in all its majesty.
See ya later, airport for politicians and the privileged class. This land is now your land, Chicagoans.In our opinion the end definitely justified the means. But then again to think of an elected official pulling a move like Mayor Daley did is mind-boggling. We weren't around Chicago when that happened, but still is crazy to contemplate.
Anyway, we're in the present now and what we have here is a nice big present with a bow on it for Chicagoans and Sloopers in general. An amazingly unique public park that is both serene and amazingly close to the heart of a major metropolis.
For now, the edges of the trail are fenced, which will give grasses, plants and trees a chance to fill in the somewhat barren, nascent landscape. That will keep much of the park off-limits to people for some time, though exceptions will be made for camping and other programs.
A contractor hired by the Army Corps plans to install nearly 12,000 shrubs and more than 400 trees before work is completed in 2017. Walking paths will traverse the open spaces once that work is completed.While there were (still are?) plans expand Northerly Island, that seems like it won't be happening any time soon since it would cost quite a bit to build reefs and new areas that didn't exist.
And if that has you disappointed, just look west across Burnham Harbor to the next frontier of potential public space - the proposed Lucas Museum. While the initial designs were met with a ton of opposition, it sounds like a new round of renderings are going to be revealed soon to try to appease the public (however probably still won't get support by many open space advocates).
While we're going to reserve judgement about the Lucas Museum, one component we did like was that the plan had a bridge that would allow you to access Northerly Island at 18th street (not just via Solidarity Drive between the Field and Adler).
Anyway, head on over to the new Northerly Island, take a stroll and let us know what you think about this thing!