What will be lost: Another view on Jackson Park

Here is another voice from yet another South Sider who describes movingly the cast of these changes to Jackson Park:

We are afraid of the new and that is part of what is entering in here.
There is reason.  Once something is gone, its gone.  We can’t wait and see how well this works.  We don’t want it to be like the the old Chicago Courthouse (see yesterday’s calendar), a beautiful building replaced with a beautiful building but never to be seen again.  “That’s progress.”
Has everyone noticed how the project has grown even before a tree has fallen?
We first heard of a “Library,” and we all know what that means.
Then it became a “Center.”
A golf course was added.
President Obama began comparing it with the Millennium Park which suggest a dozen unexpected possibilities: sledding, a playground, a city library etc.
And those sledding hills won’t be little knolls; and the playground won’t be a few sand boxes and a dozen swings.  Millennium Park is the model.
What’s more, it is inevitable that the Foundation will find lots of things it needs that aren’t in today’s plans.  How about a school, more office space, a conference center, gym, a helicopter pad, an indoor music and art space, etc..  Now that it is designated a “Center” and not just a “Library” it can be anything and everything.
And it will likely be magnificent.
But Jackson Park will be gone.
Oddly, the kind of thing that is now in the works would be far more fitting for Washington Park.  I don’t think that any park land should have been used, but if must be Washington Park was created as the kind of all-purpose place that President Obama wants.  It is much bigger than Jackson Park and once had everything: riding stables, cricket grounds, baseball fields, a toboggan slide, archery ranges, a golf course, bicycle paths and more.  That is the kind of place it was.  That is not the kind of place that Jackson Park was, or was ever meant to be.
Those who were around will remember how Leon Despres fought a hard battle to keep the Museum of Science and Industry from expanding into more park land.  The museum made a great case for itself, but Despres and hundreds of others wouldn’t buy it: park land is park land, not museum land, not school land, not developers’ land, not library land, not Obama Center land.  That principle has been violated many times, but Despres fought on and won.  The Museum built down instead of out.
We have lost the big battle to keep the Obama Center off park land.  That means that we must keep an even closer watch and be ready to act when the Foundation’s formidable propaganda machine give hints about “great new plans” to take even more land from Jackson Park.
(Image: The Field Columbian Museum, which became the Museum of Science and Industry, courtesy of Wikimedia.)

 

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1 Comment

  1. Alvin Spearman

    The Museum of Science & Industry was my brother and I’s playground as kids growing up in the 1950″s. It was our babysitter during the summer. We knew every inch of the lagoon which was on the west side of the museum and we remember that particular scene well. We were there when the U-505 submarine was brought across the outer drive. The lagoon is sorely missed and I for one hope that there are no further changes. Change for the sake of change is not always change for the best! Let’s preserve our memories and our heritage.

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