- Scott Stewart/Sun-Times
- Remember when Mayor Daley tried to tear up these rocks?
In the aftermath of my recent post on the demolition of La Casita, I’ve been getting calls and comments from readers who say I ducked the great question of the day.
And that is . . .
Did Mayor Emanuel have a legitimate reason to demolish the little field house at Whittier school, or was it all a contrivance?
There are basically two schools of thought on this matter.
On the one hand, there are those who say the mayor bulldozed La Casita just to let everyone know that he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. So fuck you, Pilsen activists—and all your little teacher-hugging, library-loving, voted-for-Miguel del Valle north-side allies. That’ll teach you to say bad things about the Man.
And on the other hand, the mayor says he had no choice. The little field house was a safety hazard—liable to collapse at any time.
And so he bulldozed it to protect the health and safety of the people of Pilsen, because the health and safety of the people is always paramount in his mind.
Which is why he closed all those mental health clinics in high-crime neighborhoods where people are really stressed out.
Wait, that didn’t come out right.
If I had to bet on the question of why the mayor sent in those bulldozers, I’d go with explanation number one. Sorry, Mr. Mayor.
In his defense, Mayor Emanuel’s not the first mayor to invoke the possibility of a catastrophe to defend the indefensible. Mayor Daley was a master at this game.
He justified his midnight raid on Meigs Field on the grounds that terrorists might use the airport to launch attacks against the Loop.
And back in the early aughts, Mayor Daley claimed he absolutely, positively had to tear up the lovely limestone rocks at Promontory Point in Hyde Park because the ceaseless flow of Lake Michigan had eroded them.
He said if he didn’t replace those limestone rocks with concrete—coincidentally, to be poured by contractors who are among his most generous contributors—the point, along with a good chunk of South Lake Shore Drive, would tumble into Lake Michigan. To paraphrase Steely Dan.
Unfortunately for the mayor, hardly anyone in Hyde Park believed him. And a typically rambunctious bunch of Hyde Park activists—led by Jack Spicer and Greg Lane—raised such a holy hell that Mayor Daley backed off and the limestone rocks remain.
The good news is that Promontory Point still hasn’t tumbled into Lake Michigan. In fact, it was the site of the George Lucas-Mellody Hobson wedding—this summer’s most glamorous society event.
Alas, neither Spicer nor Lane, who fought so hard to preserve the site that Hobson and Lucas found so intoxicating, was invited to the wedding. But Mayor Daley was.
Isn’t that just how it goes?
I’m sure our former mayor had a grand old time barefootin’ to Prince, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was wearing a life jacket—just in case.