Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bob Whitfield - Chicago Historian Credits Both Mayor Daleys with Chicago's Glorious Architecture

Mayor Richard M. Daley is hammered by everyone: the Media that licks his hand and then bites the fingers that feed and sustain it; the public employees who work for the City and Mayor; Rainbow of Coalitions that Mayor Daley tries to appease and please; the hacks on the outs and hacks who can never really get in in; the over taxed residents and the guys who begin their drinking day at the earliest possible opening hour.

Mayor Richard M. Daley can't get a kind word that lasts longer than a snow flake on a hot griddle - or a perfunctory "thank you" for a favor granted.

I never had a public job - thank God. I vote and I talk to people who actually vote.

One gentleman with whom I have exchanged thoughts on the Chicago public scene is a southern gentleman and Chicago resident since the mid 1970's - lawyer and architectural historian Robert Whitfield.

Mr. Whitfield is remarkable for his thick resume and experiences as a Citizen of the World - grew up in New Orleans, lived in Paris, London, and New York, but holds Chicago as the greatest City of the Planet.

Chicago is a cultural composite of the best that Europe has to offer, New York apes, and the lesser cities Xerox. Mr. Whitfield attributes this greatness in large part to the architectural glories and the two Chicago mayors who made this possible - Richard J. Daley and his son Richard M. Daley.

Mr. Whitfield has developed a manuscript that cites the two Chicago Schools of Building Design - the one marked by Burnham/Sullivan/Root and the other by Mies Van der Rhoe/Lohan/Murphy & Jahn -culminating in the magnificent Millenium Park.

Mr. Whitfield has met some political opposition from "locked in" architects with great power in getting his manuscript taken to the next level. Hey, this is Chicago! Politics is everywhere - getting your kid onto a T-Ball Team (". . . see Mr. Crotty up at McGuffigan Park") to getting your wife placed away from the kitchen door in a restaurant. If you are Lois Weisberg, no reservations needed. If you have to be the Widow Gert Schatzmann from McKinley Park and Old St. Maurice's over by Archer, we shall see. Oh, so sorry. Gert is S.O.L. - seated out in the lobby ( and you thought I'd make some low-minded, south side gutter-snipe vulgarity).

Mayor Richard M. Daley could use a genuine thank you from a real Chicago Booster - Bob Whitfield. Maybe some one who rides the same elevator up to Five could pass this on.

Pass this on to His Honor.

Click my post title for a few of Bob Whitfield's Favorite Buildings and Loop Streetscapes.

My favorite view of Chicago is the inner drive south bound - at night - coming up on the Field Museum. Glorious City!

There is no single volume history of the First Chicago School of Architecture in the 19th century and the Second Chicago School in the 20th century. Consequently, there is very little public understanding of the powerful continuity between the pragmatic American modern architecture in the 19th century produced in Chicago and the modern architecture produced in Chicago by Mies van der Rohe and the Second Chicago School in the 20th century. Furthermore, I am unaware of any publication which emphasizes the importance of the contribution made by Richard J. Daley and his son as powerful patrons of Chicago architecture in the 20th century. In my opinion, it is very important that the historic record of modern architecture and the city of Chicago be corrected in regard to both of these matters.

Robert Whitfield 2010

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