Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Step it Up Chicago

By Laura Caldwell

Yesterday, Richard Daley announced he would not run again for mayor of Chicago. I was on the road, driving from my house on the other side of Lake Michigan back to the city, when his press conference came on the radio. In shock, I almost pulled over. Instead, I listened as the wash of accolades for Mayor Daley came in, along with the flood of potential candidates for his position.

As I neared Chicago and saw the skyline in the distance, I was struck that things that were about to change. Seriously. Say what you want, about Richard Daley but one thing is for sure, when he steps down, the city will be different. Is it possible it will be a better different? A brighter different? A future that is less violent, more optimistic, but still as hard working and determined and generous as the city has always been? Yes. Possible. But it is very clear-things will be different.

I like when these times come up in life—times when you get a red flag that the fairly predictable road you’re travelling is about to take a major curve, only you don’t know where. These are good times to reflect and to appreciate.

So as I drove Lake Shore Drive, I stared at Navy Pier, remembering when it was just a string of carcasses of buildings. Now, yachts line one side, bars and cafes and a Ferris wheel on the other. Daley did that. He also was responsible for Cloud Gate, the sculpture in Millennium Park by Anish Kapoor. I remember when that was under construction, massively under-financed and over-due, and I grumbled along with the rest of the city who said we did not be need to spend bizillions on a reflective, enormous jelly bean. But when it was done, I was stunned. The thing is a beauty, reflecting the whole city behind you no matter where you stand. Daley did that too.

There are so many things Daley, and all the people who work under him, accomplished. And now with his giant shadow fading, we as a city have an opportunity here, one to become even more than we already are. But his are big shoes to fill. So let's go Chicago. Let's step it up.

4 comments:

William said...

To paraphrase the old wish/curse, "We do live in interesting times."

Roger Wright said...

Thanks for writing this. Without denying any of our home's challenges, I believe he left Chicago a better place than he found it. He also knew how to form coalitions. And if we can't keep doing both of those things in these hard times, then the consequences of not stepping up will be dire.

Susan said...

This is a GOOD thing for SO MANY REASONS!

Pascal said...

Laura,
As a transplanted Chicagoan (who still has strong roots there even after a 16+ year absence), I too found it shocking when I saw the headlines about Richie. I think the initial shock came from the fact that in the picture of him making his announcement, he looked so old, not too much younger than his dad, "Hizzoner" looked months prior to the end of his dynasty.
The office took its toll on Richard M., too, and there will be much posturing, just as there was after the first "King Richard's" unexpected demise. When the dust settles, we'll still be one of the greatest cities in the world--with or without the latest Daley regime in charge.