Sunday, March 1, 2009

Downtown Chicago in Transition...

Just been thumbing through the book Downtown Chicago in Transition by Eric Bronsky and Neal Samors.

It is loaded with fantastic archival pictures of the Loop from the 1870s to the present, including several then and now comparisons which are always compelling to me.

My first impression at looking at the book is how my memories don't begin to add up to what an amazing place the Loop once was. Every day when I walk through the Loop I am reminded about how much we have lost. But the richness and exuberance of the place that comes through in these beautifully reproduced photographs takes the sense of loss to a whole new level.

Of course we all mourn the passing of great architectural treasures, many of which don't make it to the pages of this book. This may be a strength rather than a weakness since so much space elsewhere is devoted to the subject. Rather this book at a quick glace focues on the vernacular, the ephemeral, idiosyncratic bits and pieces that contribute to the sense of place of any city. And of course lots and lots of people populate the pictures reminding us how alive and vital the Loop was and remains, albeit to a lesser extent,today.

From a cursory look, the authors don't dwell on nostalgia but are eager to look forward with the understanding, as the title of the book suggests, that transition is indeed the nature of the game in any vibrant city.

The text consists of memories of Chicagoans, many are descendants of some of the most powerful movers and shakers in town.

I look forward to reading their accounts and will share them in future posts.

Please check out my own compilation of memories of the city here.

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