Celebrating Chicago: From Afar & Contributors

I missed posting yesterday due to my weekend visit to Indiana, where I saw old friends and was able to see how South Bend has been changing since I left nearly four years ago.  It was good to get away for a weekend, though I am that much further behind on my housecleaning than ever!  I drove out after work on Friday, returning this afternoon; enjoying a bit of the weather and wondering what we did before the iZoom and iPass lanes.  So in a way, I was celebrating Chicago from afar, enjoying the things I never do in the city — go to the mall, drive a car (I rented all weekend as I no longer own a car), and see a newly released movie (Rock of Ages — we had so much fun singing along but were grateful that we only paid non-Chicago matinee prices as we did find Tom Cruise to be highly annoying after about six seconds of his first appearance).  So I missed yesterday’s Taste of Randolph entry.  I really don’t have much to say about that as really, isn’t there at least one food festival in Chicago every weekend all summer? I work two blocks from Taste of Chicago and avoid it due to the teenagers, suburban moms with strollers the size of Mini Coopers (those women are even more annoying at Macy’s during the holidays but that’s another rant for another day), and overpriced food.  So I’ll focus on today’s 175 Days to Love Chicago entry: Wright’s Roots, an exhibit at Expo 72 located at 72 E Randolph, and running through September 30.

As a member of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, it is pretty hard to miss learning about FLW.  His Robie House is located here in my Hyde Park neighborhood, and I’ve also visited his Oak Park home and studio and the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo.  I am not as enamored of FLW as others because I know too much about him as a person — he’s maybe not as bad as Pablo Picasso was to women, but he’s close enough to not earn my utter adoration, like I’ve seen architecture junkies do.  Plus it drives me CRAZY how around here we have to worship at the altar of Daniel Burnham, but we villify Louis Sullivan.  Burnham was much more likeable, but the man didn’t live in Chicago — he purposefully lived in Evanston, didn’t invite reformers to the table when he wrote his plan, and likely did set back American architecture 20 years with his Columbian Exposition design scheme.  Nearly every day, I can see the Fine Arts Building that remains (today’s Museum of Science and Industry), and it is breathtaking, but I think that Frederick Law Olmsted’s contributions to dredge the lake have left a much deeper legacy on Jackson Park (says the girl who adores the Osaka Garden, so close to Olmsted’s Wooded Isle).  And Louis Sullivan was a complete jerk in so many ways, but he endeared himself even to FLW, who supported him in his dotage.  I guess I just can’t stomach FLW and Burnham adoration, when those men had plenty of flaws as well.  So I guess this means that I need to focus on seeing more of Olmsted’s work. I’ve only seen what little of his work still exists in Jackson Park, Midway Plaisance, Washington Park, and New York’s Central Park. This summer I could still tackle Chicago’s Marquette Park and the town he helped plan — Riverside, Illinois.  Then I should add the Biltmore Estate for a winter trip when Chicago is feeling rather frigid. Plus I’ve never been to the Carolinas, and Asheville sounds particularly poetic (or at least it is so depicted in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna).   

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