Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone...

... are the words of the wonderful Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi." And ain't it the truth? Quite honestly I never gave much thought to this storefront until Blair Kamin and later Lynn Becker wrote about its imminent demise. I have passed this store literally thousands of times in my life, never thinking of it as anything special, just another women's shoe store.

Well shame on me. Granted this storefront dating back to the late 1940s on State Street has seen better days. Like all architecture of the period, it has to be kept in ship shape condition to retain its luster, the steel has to be polished, the glass regularly cleaned and all minor imperfections corrected. Here the coup d'gras has to be the metal spikes placed to prevent pigeons from roosting on top of the display windows.

Still it doesn't take much imagination to see this store as the gem it once was, the work of the estimable firm of Holabird, Root & Burgee, one of the finest examples of Modernist storefront architecture in the city. Unfortunately its current owners see the elegant undulating surfaces that reflect the Chicago skyline, and the ample entrance, display area as wasted space. They plan to correct this "problem" by bringing the entrance up to the property line, creating more workable space inside the store, enabling them to divide the space in two, clearly an astute business decision.

But what a loss to the city.

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