Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5, 1912 -- Potawatomi: That Belongs to Us

November 5, 1912 – In a public hearing before Colonel George A. Zinn, the army engineer in the city, the Patawatomi tribe formally protests the construction of a bridge at Michigan Avenue and the river.  Attorney W. E. Johnson asserts that the Patawatomi own a large portion of the south shore of Lake Michigan, saying, “The site of the proposed bridge the city is seeking the right to erect is outside of the domain of Illinois and Chicago.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, November 5, 1912] The head of the rivers and harbors committee of the Chicago Association of Commerce answers that the committee is not ready to file formal objections to the plan and delays the hearing until November 20.  A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the Potawatomi laid claim to this section of the city over a century ago as the above photo clearly shows.

November 5, 1998 – The architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, Blair Kamin, prints the sixth of a series of articles on plans for Chicago’s lakefront, in which he takes Mayor Richard M. Daley to task for “shying away from the bold moves necessary to get the job done” when it comes to shaping the downtown lakefront.  In the article Kamin looks at three lakefront attractions and assesses the potential and the plans for each of them.  “Navy Pier,” Kamin writes “enables us to sample the carnival midway pleasures of urban life, yet it causes suburban-style pain, particularly through the traffic jams that result from funneling thousands of cars through already-busy Lake Shore Drive and narrow feeder streets.”  Turning south to Soldier Field, Kamin says, “Wouldn’t it be wiser to look at what Soldier Field and its environs could do for the lakefront 365 days a year, not just during the 10 regular season and exhibition games that the Bears play . . . whether the Bears leave or stay, Soldier Field can be transformed from a stadium in a parking lot to a stadium in a park.”  Then, moving to the east, Kamin takes up the issues surrounding Meigs Field.  “Meigs must go,” Kamin writes.  “To stand on this peninsula – to be removed from the clamor of the city and glimpse the stunning views it affords of the skyline and the south shoreline – is to realize that Meigs is an anachronism.”  What Kamin urges is something he calls “a new architecture of both landscape and public policy.”  He recommends appointing a “powerful lakefront commission that would coordinate the efforts of the dizzying array of agencies that control the lakefront, seeing to it that the more than $500 million in projects planned for the next 12 years – roads, buildings, and revetments – turn into an ensemble that is more than the sum of its parts.”

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