Thursday, October 24, 2013

"You Can't Go Home Again" or Can you?

Each time I arrive in Chicago I recall Thomas Wolfe's book You Can't Go Home Again. The Chicago I visit today is not the city I  once knew. The landscape in some ways is the same and in so many ways it has changed. Significant buildings have had their names changed. The people, though still friendly, look tried and worn down.

"The Chicago Public Library" was located on 78 E Washington St.  Its construction lasted from 1893-1897 under the designing hand of Robert C. Spencer and J.L. Holzer. It was renovated and updated in the 1970's. Today it is known as the Chicago Cultural Center.  
Harold Washington Public Library
The Harold Washington Public Library (now the main branch of the Chicago Public Library System) is located at State/VanBuren. It is ablaze in metal, lights, and technology. As it should be, hey, everyone knows the card catalogue drawers are all but gone. 

 The train station I use to sell donuts at on Veterans Day as a young Camp Fire Girl is no longer in existence. My son recently bought a 20 year old town house on the spot.  "Bar Louie" seems to be occupying one of its entrances.

View of Chicago Skyline
From West Loop
While striving for economic security in my twenties, I  wanted to live in the downtown area or along "the Lake Shore. " To me downtown was the pulse of Chicago. Great museums, world-class art, theatre, sporting events, and five star dining.  I loved the architecture and the outdoor art that seem to open spaces in the tight city.  I love the trees. Chicago plants trees. Merchants have flowers: begonias, coleus, hydrangeas. The dry desert climate where I currently live makes it very difficult for those species to thrive.

Well, I still feel that pulse. I see families shopping, eating, walking, folks on bikes, lovers, neighborhood bars, and non-franchised restaurants. I see renewal. Wolfe was right "You can't go home  again" to experience your childhood or past memories. Your city changed and grew up like you.
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