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Archive for the ‘Chicago-esque’ Category

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Chicago to Tax Streaming Providers

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Netflix Streaming July 2015

Wow, 9% is rather a large increase to my Netflix bill. I wonder if databases like Hoover’s  will be affected? Seems like they might. 

Chicagoans who pay to stream movies and music from services like Netflix and Spotify will now need to fork over an additional 9 percent for the privilege, as will Chicago businesses that pay to use everything from real estate to court databases online, under a decision the city quietly made recently to expand its taxing power.

The added costs are the result of a ruling by the city Finance Department that extends the reach of ordinances governing two types of taxes — the city amusement tax and the city personal property lease transaction tax — to cover many products streamed to businesses and residents alike.

According to the Finance Department changes, the 9 percent amusement tax, which has mostly been tacked onto tickets to concerts and sporting events, also now applies to paid subscriptions for streamed digital music and to streamed rental movies or TV shows, and “for the privilege of participating in games, on-line or otherwise,” if the person paying to receive the data is in Chicago.


The personal property lease transaction tax expansion also applies to professional services, like electronic property databases real estate agents use, court case databases lawyers rely on and various financial information networks.


(click here to continue reading City extends taxing power to online movies, music, more – Chicago Tribune.)

Could I get around this by using a VPN? 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 2nd, 2015 at 11:10 am

Posted in Business,Chicago-esque

Tagged with , ,

Amtrak Plans Long Overdue Union Station Makeover

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Reign In Your Instincts
Reign In Your Instincts…

I’m pleased to note that Union Station is getting a rehab, a long over-due rehab, opening up hidden rooms and so forth. Can’t wait – Union Station is such an iconic Chicago building, yet it has been seemingly neglected for a while, probably due to the inexplicable animosity the GOP has towards Amtrak and passenger trains in general.

John Hilkevitch reports:

Amtrak is betting millions of dollars to transform Union Station into an entertainment and tourist destination, complete with restaurants and outdoor cafes, retail, a hotel and even a grocery store, Getting Around has learned.

Amtrak wants to open up thousands of square feet of space long closed to the public, literally throwing open the doors to the 90-year-old building in a bid to return the landmark station to its heyday in the 1940s and ’50s.

Hidden deep inside Union Station are palatial rooms with 33-foot-high ceilings and assorted alcoves that have been mothballed for decades. During the golden age of passenger rail, those spaces were filled with ritzy restaurants, coffee shops (including the fabled Harvey House), a dance hall, tailoring shops specializing in custom suits, law offices and more.

Behind locked doors is the former Women’s Waiting Room, adorned with murals dating to the station’s opening in 1925, a period when female passengers would take refuge from the rough-and-tumble of traveling alone and freshen up during a stopover in Chicago by using pay showers.

Other hidden spaces, tucked behind the station’s marble walls and ornamental iron bars that cover part of the building’s facade, collect dust. Some of Union Station’s doors fronting Canal Street, potential portals to outdoor cafes, haven’t been cracked open in years, officials said.

Sanders said a well-known high-end grocery chain has expressed interest in opening a food emporium at Union Station. Sanders also said he envisions a hotel on the station’s second floor, with the hotel entrance and marquee on Adams Street between Canal and Clinton streets. He’s already dreaming about reinstalling canopies that once gracefully draped the entrances to Union Station, he said.

(click here to continue reading Amtrak plans Union Station makeover – Chicago Tribune.)

Ready to Take That Night Train To Memphis
Ready to Take That Night Train To Memphis

Either Whole Foods or Mariano’s, I’d guess, even though both have stores nearby on Halsted. 

Got the Wine Country Blues
Got the Wine Country Blues

And I should pop over, and snap a few photos of the staircase in its current worn condition, just for posterity.

In the meantime, the Canal Street entrances will be closed for more than two months starting around July 15, when work is scheduled to begin to replace both sets of the worn marble steps connecting the Great Hall to the station’s main entrance on Canal, where CTA buses stop. The combination deli and bar under the steps has closed in preparation for the work.

The friction from countless pairs of shoes over the years has effectively sanded down the marble, creating indentations on the treads of the steps, which display the most wear and tear near the brass railings.

The grand staircases are famous in their own right, having been filmed and photographed repeatedly in images seen around the world. There’s a dramatic scene in the 1987 film “The Untouchables” where Kevin Costner, playing mob crime fighter Eliot Ness, exchanges gunfire with Al Capone’s gang while a runaway baby carriage rolls bump by bump down the marble stairs.

New marble for the steps was recently cut out of the same quarries near Rome where 100 years ago the marble for the original Union Station steps was mined, Sanders said.

300 S Jackson - Ilford Delta 100
300 S Jackson – Ilford Delta 100

Written by Seth Anderson

June 29th, 2015 at 7:47 am

N.F.L. Needed A Handout from Chicago To Host Draft Town

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The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game
The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game…

I am not a fan of football – I couldn’t name five starters on any NFL team – but while reading about the Draft Town event that muddled up downtown traffic all weekend

When N.F.L. executives chose last year to move the draft for the first time in a half-century, the decision was based as much on issues in New York as opportunities elsewhere.

But the three-day event in Chicago went so well that the league now faces a new choice: whether to return here next year or move the draft to yet another city.

On Thursday and Friday, 110,000 people visited Draft Town, the free fan festival in Grant Park across the street from the theater where the draft was held. On Saturday, larger crowds were expected when selections in the fourth through seventh rounds were announced at the festival. The crowds far exceeded the league’s original estimates.

Many fans who came to Chicago were from N.F.L. cities within driving distance — Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis — giving the draft a Midwestern feel.

 “How could we not come?” said Alex Paszkowski, a Packers fan who drove 90 minutes from Milwaukee with two friends.

(click here to continue reading City for Next Year’s Draft? N.F.L. Could Have Its Pick – NYTimes.com.)

Rahm Has A Message For You
Rahm Has A Message For You…

I read this tidbit:

The league attracted sponsors for its fan festival and persuaded the host city, Chicago, to contribute. The success of the event this year could give the N.F.L. leverage in negotiations with other cities.

“When you negotiate with the N.F.L., you usually lose,” said Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago, who added that while the draft helped market the city, it did not provide many economic benefits.

Wait, does that mean the City of Chicago got hosed by the NFL? One of the largest corporations on the planet – a nonprofit corporation even, for some crazy reason – needed a cash-strapped city’s funds to host an event that benefits only the NFL? /shakes fist at Rahm Emanuel  Mayor 1%

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2015 at 7:38 am

Monday March Commute was uploaded to Flickr

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embiggen by clicking

I took Monday March Commute on March 23, 2015 at 08:46AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 23, 2015 at 02:52PM

Up to 5 inches of snow to drop during rush hour – Chicago Tribune: “Spin-outs and near white-out conditions slowed the morning rush Monday as a burst of spring snow hit just in time for the commute and could bring as much as 5 inches of snow in some parts of the Chicago area.”


Written by eggplant

March 23rd, 2015 at 9:08 am

Rahm Emanuel’s sins against the progressive movement

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Best Buddies
Rauner and Rahm, Best Buddies…

Progressives do have a history with Mayor 1%, Rahm Emanuel, and it isn’t a pleasant one. Sadly, it does look like Rahm-bo might squeak out a win over Chuy Garcia, but the special runoff election isn’t until April 7th, so there is still hope.

Digby writes, in part, a bit of the history:

Way back in the day (a decade ago) when the Progressive Netroots were just starting to organize, the first “scalp” any of the left leaning movement activists took was that of a Democratic hack from Maryland named Al Wynn when they backed a progressive challenger by  the name of Donna Edwards. Edwards defeated Wynn in 2008 and is now running to replace Senator Barbara Mikulski who recently announced her retirement. In each congressional cycle Netroots progressives have fought a number of hard-fought primaries, losing more often than they won (just like the Tea Party) but slowly managing to make the House of Representatives a bit more progressive than it was before. Congressional representatives like Matt Cartwright, Beto O’Rourke and Senators like Jon Tester were backed strongly by the grassroots of the party and managed to unseat incumbents. Nobody in the beltway noticed or cared, of course. (Progressives always forget to order their tri-corner hats and Betsy Ross wigs…)

But over time, it’s had an effect and not just because of the “scalps” they took, but because all of those hard fought races, whether won or lost, showed the incumbents that there was a restive group of activists out there who could challenge the status quo.  And aside from primary challenges, progressives in congress from Keith Ellison and Alan Grayson in the House to Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin in the Senate were enthusiastically supported by Netroots groups like, Move On, DFA, PCCC and Blue America (disclosure: I am a principal in that group) among a number of others, a support which translates into small donor involvement, campaign volunteering and strategic advice as well as engaged in grassroots activism for progressive congressional initiatives.  It’s made a difference.  The House and Senate today have progressive wings that are active and vocal in a way they did not a decade ago.

Rahm Has A Message For You
Rahm Has A Message For You…

Back in 2006 when all this really started to come together there was one Democrat who quickly determined that this nascent progressive movement was a major threat to the status quo. His name was Rahm Emanuel who was, at the time, an Illinois congressman in charge of candidate recruitment for the congressional Democrats. If there’s anyone who can take credit for being the catalyst for this long term Netroots commitment to elect progressives to congress it is him. His crude dismissal of grassroots concerns was blatant. His contempt for anyone who disagreed with his centrist Blue Dog/New Democrat philosophy was palpable.  While his wholehearted support for big money interests was seen as the ultimate in strategic brilliance by the beltway elites, it repelled Democratic activists everywhere.

Despite the fact that lame-duck George W. Bush and the war in Iraq were so unpopular that virtually anyone who could draw a breath who had a D after his or her name could have won, the conventional wisdom said that Emanuel’s DCCC win in the off year election of 2006 was a validation of his political savvy. (In case you were wondering, Emanuel wasn’t elected to congress until after the Iraq war resolution but was on record supporting it, saying that the U.S. needed a “muscular projection of force” there. You can let the shrinks sort out just what that language says about him …)

When the newly elected President Obama tapped him as chief-of-staff, you could hear progressives screaming “nooooooo” across the land. And when he departed to run for mayor of Chicago, the collective sigh of progressive relief (everywhere but Chicago) was just as audible. He is, in other words, the symbol of everything progressives are trying to change about the Democratic Party.

And right now, in Chicago, a progressive is giving him the personal challenge of his political lifetime. Political observers were stunned last month when a longtime Illinois politician by the name of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff for his second term as mayor. Perhaps stunned isn’t really the right word. Apoplectic is more apt. After all, Emanuel has a seemingly unending supply of money with which he tried to buy off every bit of institutional support and his network of elite friendships goes all the way up to the White House. But it turns out that his arrogance and corruption may be too much even for a city that is anything but starry-eyed about such things.

(click here to continue reading Why the left hates this man: Rahm Emanuel’s sins against the progressive movement – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2015 at 8:47 am

Wabash Avenue Facelift planned

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Spent Many An Anxious Hour
Spent Many An Anxious Hour…

In general, I’m supportive of some civic attention being paid to Wabash Avenue, but I will be sad to lose the dramatic shadows underneath it when the lighting gets upgraded.

Wabash Avenue, critically located between the tourist attractions on Michigan Avenue and shopping on State Street, is poised to undergo a significant makeover.

After more than a year spent collecting input and brainstorming, the Chicago Loop Alliance, the organization that promotes the downtown business district, has issued final recommendations for transforming the iconic corridor under the “L” tracks into a more inviting street.

The 24 recommendations range from the immediate, such as removing graffiti and litter, to the long-term, which includes installing a kinetic lighting installation running the length of the tracks.

Wabash, given its location under the tracks, tends to be dark and loud, often gathering litter and flocks of pigeons. It has higher vacancy rates, lower commercial and residential rents and lower pedestrian and vehicle counts than neighboring streets. Twelve of the projects to improve the street should start within the next two years, nine of them in two to five years and three of them five to 10 years from now, according to a timeline in the final report.

(click here to continue reading Group lays out its plans to spiff up Chicago’s Wabash Avenue – Chicago Tribune.)

Forgotten Moment - Number 382
Forgotten Moment – Number 382

While Your Train Gently Squeaks
While Your Train Gently Squeaks

Analysis and Consultation
Analysis and Consultation

Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go
Some Will Come and Some Will Surely Go

You just want to be on the side that's winning
You just want to be on the side that’s winning

Written by Seth Anderson

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:09 am

CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying

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 City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle

City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle, probably with a Stingray device (taken at a Haymarket Riot Demonstration).

Remember those quaint old days when the United States had a Bill of Rights? And civil liberties were commonly respected?1

Attorney Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy filed a suit against the Chicago Police Department last week. 

The Chicago Police Department was sued Friday to force release of evidence that the department has purchased equipment that allows them to covertly scan people’s cell phones for detecting telephone numbers dialed and texted, tracking their location, and cell phones’ unique device identification numbers.

Cell site simulators, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, masquerade as cellphone towers to obtain data secretly from nearby cellular user devices.

“Many believe that Chicago Police have already deployed this kind of technology at protests,” said Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, which represents Chicago resident Freddy Martinez in the suit.  “Local police departments in other states have widely used the technology, and have kept it secret, even to the courts, and even when it has been used to obtain evidence in a criminal case.”

“If the Chicago Police aren’t running afoul of the Fourth Amendment, they should have nothing to hide,” said Mr. Martinez. “This information will allow the public to learn the extent to which Chicago Police have this technology, and once we have that, we’ll pursue more information about how it is being used and whether Chicago Police are routinely using it to violate the Constitution.”

Mr. Martinez filed a FOIA request with Chicago Police looking for records documenting the purchase of this equipment.  “FOIA and the Illinois Constitution are clear that all records related to the use of public funds are subject to disclosure,” said Topic, “yet Chicago Police have stonewalled Mr. Martinez for months.”

(click here to continue reading CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying | Blog | Loevy & Loevy.)

and as Mr. Martinez says:

“Should federal, state, or local law enforcement be allowed to trick your cell phone into sharing information like your location, the numbers your called or texted, or your unique device ID without your consent?” asked Martinez. “Should they be deploying this kind of technology in secret? We don’t think so.”

Copies of the suit, No. 2014CH09565, are available here: Freddie Martinez v. Chicago Police Department.

Officer with Blackberry
CPD Officer with Blackberry

From the suit, some additional background material, some of which we’ve blogged about, some not.

Read the rest of this entry »

  1. as long as you were a white property owner []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 9th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Rosemont passes law to prevent release of Garth Brooks contract

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Rich Play - Poor Pay - Chicago Tribune
Rich Play – Poor Pay – Chicago Tribune.

There aren’t many times when we align unequivocally with the Chicago Tribune, but this is one such time. What the hell is the Village of Rosemont doing?1 Corporate welfare at its most transparent, and then trying to cover up their tracks? They are spending taxpayer money, right? So why shouldn’t the taxpayers know the details?

Whatever Rosemont had to do, it doesn’t want the public to know about it.

The village recently passed an ordinance to keep secret the financial details related to Brooks’ record-breaking concert run — an unusual move that came after the Chicago Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to his September shows at Allstate Arena.

The ordinance gives the mayor and other officials the power to withhold documents if they believe the release would put village-owned entertainment venues at a competitive disadvantage. In addition to the arena, the town owns and operates the Rosemont Theatre and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Village officials declined comment on the new law this week, citing the ongoing dispute with the Tribune over the Brooks documents.

The Tribune requested the records on Sept. 11, while Brooks was in the middle of his 11-concert run at Allstate Arena. Brooks, who had not toured in 16 years, sold 183,535 tickets for his Rosemont shows and broke the North American ticket sales record for a single city with an estimated gross of $12 million.

None of those entities, however, rely upon concert and convention revenues as much as Rosemont, which owes more than $400 million on taxpayer-backed loans taken out primarily to build an entertainment district. In 2013, the arena, theater and convention center together generated nearly $38 million in operating revenue and attracted more than 1.9 million visitors, according to village officials.

(click here to continue reading Rosemont passes law to prevent release of Garth Brooks contract – Chicago Tribune.)

To be clear, we are befuddled why such a profitable touring artist would need financial incentives from the public: the government isn’t getting a percentage of the gate. In fact, just the opposite – Rosemont gave a share of concessions, parking, and the like to the promoter. Wacky, just wacky. Smells like corruption to me.

  1. a suburb of Chicago, five minutes from O’Hare Airport []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 5th, 2014 at 11:04 am

White Way Sign files for bankruptcy protection

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I trust White Way Sign will survive this bankruptcy, I couldn’t imagine Chicago without White Way Signs populating our common urban space, nor my Flickr feed either…

White Way Sign, a century-old company behind some of the most historic signs in Chicago, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The family-owned company has had a hand in everything from the landmark Chicago Theatre and Wrigley Field marquees to the U.S. Cellular Field and United Center scoreboards, iconic signage that has helped define the city’s image and evolution.

Marathoners race past the Chicago Theatre. White Way Sign didn’t build the original Chicago Theatre sign, but it fabricated and installed the most recent version of the canopy within the past decade, according to the company. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune) The company moved from Chicago to Mount Prospect in 2007, and recently has focused more on maintenance than manufacturing after divesting its North Clybourn Avenue facility. The filing Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago lists less than $10 million in assets and up to $50 million in liabilities.

“We expect to survive this,” said Jim Morgan, a Chicago bankruptcy attorney representing White Way. “We just need to retool and we will continue to provide the same service.”

White Way Sign was founded in 1916 by Thomas Flannery, an Irish immigrant who started the company by servicing electric signs. It made its mark by fabricating and maintaining marquees for such theaters as the Chicago Theatre and the Oriental Theatre. The company took its name from the New York theater district, which was known as the Great White Way for its brightly lighted marquees.

(click here to continue reading White Way Sign files for bankruptcy protection – Chicago Tribune.)

A few examples of White Way Signs I’ve snapped photos of over the years:

(Central) Camera - since 1899

(Central) Camera – since 1899


Fela - Oriental Theatre
Fela – Oriental Theatre

Meier's Tavern Package Liquors
Meier’s Tavern Package Liquors

Las Vegas Showgirls
Las Vegas Showgirls

Homosexuals at Biograph
Homosexuals at Biograph

Oriental Ford
Oriental Ford

Explosions In the Sky
Explosions In the Sky

Vintage Neon: Chicago Park
Vintage Neon: Chicago Park

Ramova Neon
Ramova Neon

There are probably more White Way Signs photos in my Flickr Signs Album, but you get the idea…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in Business,Chicago-esque,Photography

Tagged with ,

Fracking rules to be unveiled for Illinois

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Motion is Life
Motion is Life

Great, just great. I guess this is why the Koch Industry was so concerned about Chicago’s attempt to ban petcoke from being stored in the city.

Highly anticipated rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing in Illinois are to be unveiled Friday.

Once the rules go into effect, Illinois hopes to become the center of the next oil boom. Fracking, which involves injecting fluids and chemicals at high volumes to crack open shale rock and unleash oil and natural gas, could bring bring jobs to a struggling southern Illinois economy. Ilinois also is counting on tax revenue on extracted oil and gas to fatten state and county coffers.

A year ago a draft version of the proposed rules proved controversial, drawing about 30,000 comments, mostly from anti-fracking groups who sought to delay the law from taking effect.

Environmental groups claimed the proposed rules written by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had undermined key provisions of state law dealing with containment of fracking liquids, fines for drillers who violated rules, and emergency situations.

(click here to continue reading Fracking rules to be unveiled Friday – Chicago Tribune.)

and to jog your memory a bit, from last spring:

We’ve had enough petcoke surprises lately in Chicago. Fortunately, the Illinois Pollution Control Board prevented another one last week.

The first surprises were mountains of petcoke — or petroleum coke — that grew as tall as five stories last summer near the Calumet River. The petcoke was generated by an Indiana refinery, and it was transported for storage to Chicago. People who live in the area said the powdery, black dust swirled off the mounds and coated their homes, along with any meals they were barbecuing outside.

In December, Chicago drafted new regulations governing the storage of petcoke, which is a refinery byproduct. Then, on Jan. 13, Gov. Pat Quinn announced his own emergency administrative rules. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency filed the rules late on Jan. 16, and comments were due by Jan 21 at noon. Because the intervening Monday was a holiday, that left just one full business day for research and comments.

Many businesses that have nothing to do with petcoke found some surprises in the rules that they thought would hurt their operations. Some environmentalists, while pleased something was being done, thought the rules didn’t go far enough.

(click here to continue reading For petcoke solutions, look to how state handles fracking – Chicago Sun-Times.)

Let’s rape and pillage our state’s environment so that a few can make profits. Whoo hoo! Earthquakes as a bonus!

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2014 at 8:22 am

The Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet – A Planned wine bar for 736 W Randolph Street

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Hmm. More wine drinking options in the West Loop are always good…

Thomas Powers, a sommelier, former director of Chicago-based KDK Restaurants Inc. (Jerry Kleiner’s defunct company) and the onetime owner of long-closed Harvest on Huron, plans to open a wine bar focused on American vintages on Randolph Street’s restaurant row.

Mr. Powers has signed a lease at 736 W. Randolph St. to open the Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet. It will sit across the street from Haymarket Pub & Brewery and Au Cheval, adding yet another element to the increasingly popular West Loop nightlife scene. Expected opening is late 2014.

Mr. Powers and his business partner, who declined to be named, have raised half of their needed $2 million investment from a group of about 40 individual investors. They have not yet hired a chef but have secured a beverage director, whom Mr. Powers declined to name.

He’s looking for a chef to build out a mostly small-plates menu featuring salumi, cheeses, oysters and a few entrees.

The 6,900-square-foot, two-story former warehouse is raw space. Mr. Powers’ plan is to build out the 1,700-square-foot first floor with 40 to 50 seats, 20 bar seats and 10 seats in a lounge.


(click here to continue reading Former Kleiner associate planning wine bar for Randolph Street – Crain’s dining blog – Crain’s Chicago Business .)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2014 at 8:12 am

Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday

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Division Street Bridge in need of repair
Division Street Bridge in need of repair

Per Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist, the Division Street Bridge lost its race to collapse before being repaired…

Starting Monday crews will begin demolishing Division Street Bridge near Goose Island. The city will be replacing the 111-year-old Bascule Bridge with an interim span while building a permanent Bascule replacement. The bridge was originally built in 1903 and has served as an integral link across Goose Island for cars, bikes, pedestrians and trains over the years, but currently isn’t wide enough to accommodate the size and flow of modern traffic. The Division Street Bridge is one of several Bascule bridges that made the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’ 2013 list of the 10 most endangered historic places in the state.

(click here to continue reading Replacement Of Division Street Bridge Begins Monday: Chicagoist.)

Per Historic Bridges, this bridge was last rehabbed in 1992, but as these photos demonstrate, the bridge is a little rickety.

Somebody's Lunch
Somebody’s Lunch

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Division Street Bridge
Division Street Bridge

Circumstantial Evidence - Panatomic X

Circumstantial Evidence – Panatomic X

Division Street Bridge is still Standing
Division Street Bridge is still Standing

String and Steel Melodies
String and Steel Melodies

More history:

Crossing the North Branch Chicago River Canal onto or off of Goose Island, this is one of the very first highway bascule bridges built in Chicago, constructed just a couple years after Cortland Street. Given the influence that Chicago’s development of the bascule bridge had on bridge construction nationwide, this prototypical example of a Chicago type trunnion bascule bridge is nationally significant and its preservation should be given a paramount level of priority.

 Roemheld & Gallery of Chicago were both the designers and builders of the bridge. This bridge is similar to bridges like Cortland Street, but it has one very unusual and distinctive characteristic which sets it aside from these other bridges. The overhead sway/portal bracing for this bridge is composed of simple plate steel with decorative designs on them that includes an upside-down “Y” design with a circle around it that is used in Chicago to refer to the three branches of the Chicago River. The symbol became an officially designated symbol appearing in Chicago’s municipal code as the “Municipal Device.” Easy to miss unless you are looking for it, the symbol can be found on buildings and structures throughout the city including on a few other bridges. This Division Street Bridge however is the only bridge in the entire city that includes this design in its overhead bracing. The bridge is different from the other early bascule bridges including the bascule bridge in sight of this one also on Division Street, which have a more intricate network of built-up sections of v-laced and latticed steel for bracing. The plates with the Municipal Device symbol on this bridge are an interesting and decorative element that adds a lot to the bridge.

(click here to continue reading Division Street North Branch Canal Bridge (Division Street Eastern Bridge) – HistoricBridges.org.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 27th, 2014 at 10:23 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Chicago wins George Lucas museum

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Chicago at Night
Chicago Museum Campus at Night

In case you hadn’t heard…

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of his collection of art and movie memorabilia, according to a spokeswoman for the museum.

The museum’s board Wednesday is expected to vote on a name change — from the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art — and destination.

Pending approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, Lucas’ institution would be built on what are now parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place and would open in 2018. Architectural renderings will be presented to city officials in early fall, according to a statement from the museum.

(click here to continue reading Chicago wins George Lucas museum – chicagotribune.com.)

 The clouds in july are mostly in the plain

Soldier Field

Our first question about the proposal has already been answered, will there be lawsuits against this private museum being placed on the lakeshore? Yes:

Still, the museum has drawn opposition from open-space advocates, such as Friends of the Parks.

Among the 14 “basic policies” of the Lakefront Plan of Chicago, adopted by the city council in 1973, is that “in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.” And the Lakefront Protection Ordinance says that the plan commission’s decisions “shall be made in conformity with” those policies.

“We will do what it takes and that very well may be a lawsuit,” Friends of the Parks President Cassandra Francis said. “We are in coalition-building mode, but we are very optimistic, based on discussions, that we will have a broad group of organizations joining us” in opposing the lakefront location for the museum.

Our second question: are there public funds being used for the George Lucas Megalomania Museum? Apparently, no, at least at first:

Under Emanuel’s plan, the two Chicago Park District-owned parking lots would be leased to the museum for $1, which is similar to arrangements other large cultural institutions have with the Park District.

But unlike other museums, the Lucas museum would not receive taxpayer subsidies to cover a portion of its operations, a top mayoral aide has said.

The parking lots would be moved underground at Lucas’ expense, the city has said.

That’s positive news, and different than how the Chicago Children’s Museum fiasco played out. 

I haven’t yet seen the plans, so I still wonder if the proposed museum will shrink the available green space along the lakeshore? If I’m reading the description correctly, the museum will take over 17 acres of asphalt parking, and put a 5 acre museum building and 12 acres of new green space. That sounds ok to me, but then I’m not a Chicago Bears tailgating maniac. Friends of the Park make a good point too: the land may be a parking lot now, but parking lots are easily converted to grassy knolls, much easier than removing a building once it is built.

Cassandra Francis, President of Friends of the Parks says:

Although the proposed site is now used as a parking lot, its future reversion to parkland is possible. Once a building is in place, it is forever precluded from being public open space.

9 great movies
Film History

For the record, I haven’t watched a Star Wars film in 25 years or more, but perhaps there will be other items of narrative film history of interest.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 25th, 2014 at 9:03 am

Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city

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 Fulton Market Lineup

Fulton Market Lineup

Update on the still-in-proposal-stage plan for making a Fulton Market Historical District…

The city plans to allocate more than $42 million to improve parts of the West Loop included in its proposed Fulton Market Innovation District, a plan being pushed by the mayor as a way to encourage yet corral the neighborhood’s explosive growth.

The investments will kick off with the construction of a $500,000 gateway arching over Fulton Market at Halsted Street to welcome visitors to a proposed historic market district honoring the meatpacking companies and food wholesalers that have been operating there for a century.

The bulk of the $42.6 million allocation of public money, about $16 million of which is still pending approval from the city’s Department of Transportation, would go to infrastructure improvements like street paving and sidewalk repairs along Kinzie, Fulton Market, Randolph and Lake streets. Most of the money will come from the existing tax increment financing district, set up in 1998, though an estimated $10 million proposed for rebuilding Lake Street would be a mix of local, state and federal funds.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spearheaded the innovation district plan, said the driving force for it was the surge in real estate deals that followed the 2012 opening of the $38 million Morgan Street CTA station.

“When we make these investments, they spur a series of private-sector economic development and opportunities for the city and growth,” Emanuel said. “And here, which is unique, you’ve got to do it in a way that strikes a balance between the history, and the preservation of that, while you embrace the change that is occurring simultaneously. And I think we’ve come up with that equitable balance.”

Designating the area an “innovation district,” a growing trend in cities, highlights the mix of traditional manufacturing, tech companies, social scene and transit access that has become important to attracting a young, creative workforce. Some of the employers coming to the area, including Google, SRAM, Uber, Brooklyn Bowl and Soho House, are expected to add 2,385 jobs, according to figures provided by the mayor’s office.

“It is and represents a new direction of the city’s economy,” said Andrew Mooney, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. While the city has other emerging “innovation centers,” the restaurant-rich Fulton Market area is unique because of its historic and current connection to food, and the fact that it is not linked to a university.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Top Business – Planned Fulton Market district to get $42M from city.)

Nothing Ever Stays The Same
Nothing Ever Stays The Same

Also, first time we’ve heard of this plan:

The city also announced a new public bike station it has planned for the lower level of an 83,000-square-foot former meatpacking building under redevelopment at 210 N. Green St., where New York-based WeWork plans to open a collaborative workspace next year.

The 3,100-square-foot bike station, which aims to accommodate bike commuters with locker rooms and showers as well as bike storage, will be privately operated by WeWork as a business and use no public funds, though the mayor brokered the arrangement, city officials said.

 Sounds good, more biking amenities is good news for the City, imo, especially when one of the options of becoming a WeWork member is “Free Beer”1

Fulton Market Food & Liquors - mural
Fulton Market Food & Liquors – mural

and still some current property owners are whining about not being able to sell their historic buildings to developers who will then raze the building, and replace the 19th century brick structure with a drab condo building with architecture inspired by Home Depot. Viva capitalism!

The land use plan, which will be adopted as policy by the planning department this summer, does not overtly change zoning but imposes guidelines for how parts of the proposed district — bordered by Halsted, Ogden, Randolph and Hubbard Streets — should be developed.

The most controversial part of the plan calls for portions of Fulton Market and Randolph Street to be given historic landmark status to preserve the character of storefronts that are the last remnants of the city’s food-manufacturing past. The neighborhood’s three major community groups — the Randolph/Fulton Market Association, the West Central Association and the West Loop Community Organization — have all formally opposed the landmark proposal, saying they’re concerned about the restrictions that would prevent demolition of some buildings and dictate the design of all.

  1. I’m not kidding, look []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 23rd, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Fulton Market historic district

without comments

I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street
I Think I Saw It On Fulton Street

We’ve mentioned this proposed historical district plan before, and we’re still enthused by it. However, not everyone is.

While it maintains the existing zoning, the plan provides guidelines for how the neighborhood should be developed so that officials deciding the fates of the many projects being proposed can follow a strategic vision, said Steven Valenziano, assistant zoning administrator with the Department of Planning.

The part of the plan that imposes historic landmark status on buildings within a section of the district — along Fulton Street between Racine Avenue and Green Street, along Randolph Street between Carpenter and Halsted streets, and the swath of Sangamon Street from Fulton to Randolph — is being met with staunch resistance from some Fulton Market business and property owners.

They worry the preservation restrictions will handcuff them to obsolete buildings, making it hard to do business if they need to make building improvements, or reduce the resale value if they decide to leave.

Holding My Life in My Hand
Holding My Life in My Hand

“It turns my business into an exhibit in this theme park,” said Melissa Otte, part of the family that owns the butter, cheese and egg distributor Meloney Cunningham & DeVic at 1114 W. Fulton St., which is one of the buildings that would be landmarked. “It’s really upsetting to hear that you’re history when you still work there.”

(click here to continue reading Fulton Market historic district could kill what it honors, critics say – chicagotribune.com.)

Eggs Cheese and Butter
Eggs Cheese and Butter

Seems like Melissa Otte’s long term plan was to raze her building, and sell it to developers to build generic condos on. So sorry.

Some more photos of Fulton Market are just a click away


Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2014 at 1:12 pm