Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Shedd Aquarium Approved for Renovations

 Good news for Shedd Acquarium lovers (via Urbanize Chicago):

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved the Lakefront Protection Ordinance application for renovations to the Shedd Aquarium. Located at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr, the project will improve the facilities of the museum on the Museum Campus. Looking towards its 100th anniversary in 2030, the Shedd Aquarium plans the work as part of its Centennial Commitment, a $500 million plan to improve physical facilities and programmatic content.

The most prominent change to the exterior will be the addition of a new entry and ticketing pavilion surrounding the Man with Fish sculpture outside of the accessible entry. Currently the entry does not have enough capacity to meet demand, so the new design will accommodate a larger number of visitors. With 85% of tickets purchased in advance, the separated ticketing and entry pavilions will streamline the entry process for those who have bought tickets online allowing them to enter directly.

Two pavilions will be added in front of the current entrance with a circular trellis connecting the two to create a sense of arrival for visitors. The structures have been designed to create a light touch within the landscape, enhanced to allow for greater visibility of the entrances while using larger trees to break down the scale of the new structures. In response to feedback the ceilings of the pavilions will be GFRC instead of the original wood material.

Monday, June 27, 2022

CPS CEO Pulls Funding for Proposed South Loop High School ; Says More Time & Community Engagement Needed

In case you missed it last week, more delays and uncertainty around next steps with a "South Loop High School" (via Chicago Tribune):

Hours before the Chicago Board of Education was poised to vote Wednesday on the $9.4 billion budget for the coming school year, Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez pulled a $120 million line item for a proposed high school that would serve Chinatown, Bridgeport and South Loop.

“Conversations for the need of a neighborhood high school in the Near South have been happening for a decade now, with many advocates and community leaders urging CPS to take this step. Our team has done a great job in showing the need, with our Black students attending 95 different high schools and our Asian students traveling some of the longest distances across to other neighborhood schools,” Martinez said at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting.

Though planning is still in the early stages, critics railed against the proposal for utilizing money promised to a different neighborhood and spending millions on a new school instead of improving the high schools in the area. CPS also has come under fire for exploring building the school in the footprint of the former Ickes Homes public housing complex without first seeking feedback from residents who live near there.

Unfortunately the bureaucratic process and various groups CPS is trying to appease will continue to cause challenges.  Read the article and it's not hard to understand why this is difficult.  Regardless - it's frustrating for parents who across the board and likely is a reason why people flee the city.

This has been going on for decades - apparently 25 years by estimates of Chinatown leaders - and it seems like we're back to the drawing board.  Yikes!  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

$400K Stolen Violin Returned to South Loop Family

Well it sounds like the South Loop stolen violin has a relatively happy ending (via Chicago Tribune):  

After a monthlong disappearance, police have returned a stolen violin made in 1760 to a South Loop family of musicians whose home was burglarized and robbed of the 262-year-old violin, as well as two other valuable instruments in May.
MingHuan Xu, a professional violinist and director of the string program at Roosevelt University, was preparing to perform at the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival in Washington on Tuesday when the Chicago Police Department called and asked her to come into the station to identify three instruments.

Xu immediately dropped out of her performance that night, booked a red-eye, and arrived in Chicago at 4 a.m. Wednesday. She identified the three instruments “right away” as the three that were taken from her home a month earlier. The instruments were all undamaged and in good condition.

With no suspects in custody and the investigation still “open,”it remains unclear who was behind the burglary or how police acquired the instruments, though surveillance cameras from a neighbor’s garage did capture images of the suspect entering Xu’s home around 3:45 a.m. the morning of May 11.

It still seems like a strange sequence of events - especially how the Police just "acquired" the instruments - but hopefully we will learn more in the future.

Anyway - glad that this was returned.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Lake Michigan Fluctuating Water Levels Wreaking Havoc on Beaches

 One of Chicago's (and the Sloop's) most precious resources - Lake Michigan - continues to be in a precarious give and take as it relates to water levels and erosion.

The Tribune has a good read on the current dynamics and how water levels are causing erosion.  They also talk about our local Sloop beach:

In the heart of the city, just steps from the Doane Observatory at Adler Planetarium, hundreds gathered at 12th Street Beach as they enjoyed the three-day weekend and the kickoff of beach season. But 12th Street has also suffered from erosion and, according to the Park District, is in need of repairs to its lake wall — repairs that are set to begin in early June and be completed by October. The beach will remain open during the renovation. 

“Anywhere that we can keep the water area and the beach open, we absolutely will because we know how precious beach season is in Chicago,” Gleason said.

We haven't been recently, but last year it definitely looked like only 1/3 of the beach was still there.  Sounds like it's only gotten worse.  

Here is an old picture of how the beach looked.  Today it's not nearly as big (we hope to get there soon to check it out):