Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicago Then and Now

On Friday night we were for the first time this season taking in a show at Millennium Park. A fellow concert goer and I were admiring the awe-inspiring view from the venue, and as we were discussing what a positive the park is, we reflected back on how far it's come. I think it's a history many may be unfamiliar with, and so I thought it would be worth a march back in time...

The area now including Millennium and Grant Parks actually didn't really exist prior to the Chicago Fire of 1871. As a result of that catastrophe, landfill and trash were dumped at what was then the lakefront creating more shore, and creating a landfill area that would become these parks. By 1890, here's what the area looked like.

By the mid-20th century, though, the area had been overrun by railroads, parking lots, and poor planning. Come the mid-1980s, things were looking a little better, but what's today Millennium Park was still pretty much just a railroad yard.

With the completion of Millennium Park and now the Modern Wing of the Art Institute this decade, however, the area has become a world-class destination.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ruins of Humanity

Whenever I have had the chance to tour ruins of old manmade fortresses, I have been moved by the history, the decay, and the omnipresence of change we see throughout our lives. Interestingly, ruins don't have to be all that old to inspire some pretty good reflection on humanity. Last week, the New York Times featured a photo essay documenting the stall of development in the USA in our current recession. Its images are haunting.

It actually reminded me of another photo essay of lost grandeur I also recently viewed documenting Detroit's fall.

Together these groups of photos serve as a healthy reminder that our lives here are pretty temporal.