Chicago’s former self


I finished the epilogue to “the Devil in the White City” longing for more.

That’s how good the read was.

The architects and builders reached out to the sky, and in Ferris’ case, taking the people up with him for an amusement ride in 1893.

The Fair (DreamLand) later inspired DisneyLand.

But not all was quiet on the lake front.

We had a Jack-the-Rippper type abducting and mutilating women orginally drawn to bright light and big city.

Near the closing of the Fair, the mayor got shot, turning the Closing ceremony into a burial and burning of man’s monumental greatness

(White City turned Black City).

White City as it turned out cast dark shadows.

America in the Gilded Age.

Full of ambition and aspiration.

World leader in manufacturing and masonry.

Builders and dreamers.

The sky was the limit (not credit limit as of late).

Later, we had the Wright brothers and Frank-Lloyd Wright.

But during that period, just Westinghouse and Edison (GE), birthers of electricity.

Just Buffalo Bill and Fair builders trying to “outEiffel” Eiffel.

They had a race of a thousand miles, preferably to arrive at the Fair on the same horse.

One fair attendee from Poland who had used kerosene lamp all her life, upon seeing the city of lights, uttered “It’s Heaven”.

Unfortunately, only the train track remains (with dark fiber routes lay dormant). The rest was burned to the ground, with no regret. It was not  the first time the city was in flame. (Mrs O Leary’s cow would kick the lantern later to cause the Chicago Great Fire).

America’s second largest city has its current mayor who left the White House for the White City.

Chicago who hosted the Democratic Convention and its bloody confrontation during the Vietnam War.

Chicago with its boderos and board rooms.

Chicago, a school of economics, which favors “Adam Smith‘s invisible hand”.

Chicago South Side, in contrast to the White city.

Chicago, the band, with “Doesn’t anybody know what time it is”.

Chicago Chicago, the musical and Chicago World Fair, a memorial of America’s Imperial Past.

Its future and America’s are so inter-twined that its leaders had once been a community worker before entering the White House.

Chicago, my first great city outside of the insulated Happy Valley. To have finished “the Devil in the White City” to me was like to have my first taste of that Polish sausage and sauerkraut, or like that Polish girl who first saw electricity: it embodies human greatness and its possibilities (and its need for redemption as well). If only we launched another mandate to complete a World Fair with ensuing deadline, or “ask not…what your country can do for you”. In both instances,  Michigan Lake or Moon Landing, America rose to the challenge and out-shined its own complacency and comfort zone.

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