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Development and dystopia in Chicago


A wave of mega-developments represent billions of dollars of new investment in Chicago, but how much say does the public really have in these plans?

A screenshot from the opening sequence of the 1989 sci-fi anime AKIRA, which takes place in the dystopian “Neo Tokyo” of 2019.

The year: 2019. The city: Chicago.

A former industrial giant overshadowed by its coastal peers and emerging metropolises abroad. Mega-developers step up to the plate to clear entire swaths of the city and populate vast corridors with anonymous glass skyscrapers and attractions that symbolize Chicago’s metamorphosis from a waning post-industrial might to an idyllic 21st-century mega-metropolis.

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The Chicago Alderman Who Outlawed Tall Hats and Tried to Outlaw Football

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1930 N. Cleveland, once home to Alderman Plotke [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

At 1930 N. Cleveland St, a white Italianate cottage (above) stands as an ornate link to Nathan Plotke, a mostly forgotten Chicago alderman and Illinois state legislator, who, in 1897 made national headlines with two articles of legislation.

He gained notoriety for his efforts to prohibit the wearing of tall hats in a theater, and later ridicule for his attempt to outlaw football in the city of Chicago. He was additionally remembered by his children for making an incorrect prediction about the Great Fire in 1871.

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Preservation Chicago’s 2019 Chicago 7 Most Endangered Announced

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Thompson Center [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

    Thompson Center [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

Preservation Chicago released its annual Chicago 7 Most Endangered list today. Predictably, some long-simmering and contentious preservation fights made repeat appearances. The spaceship-like Thompson Center, now all but certain to be sold by the State of Illinois, once again makes the cut. This landmark of postmodernism faces an uncertain future regardless of ownership, but a sale might clear the way for demolition and replacement.

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Art Deco Redo

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[John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

Art Deco/Moderne re-do of a commercial corner on an 1895 residential building at 530 W. Armitage.