Burnham’s Intentions

Re: “Daniel Burnham: The Man, the Myth, the Misrepresentations,” July 16

Your recent column on the two new pavilions [“Zaha Hadid’s Burnham Centennial Pavilion: A Big Aluminum Hot Potato?” by Deanna Isaacs] makes interesting points, but overlooks a key aspect: in radical design concepts, the architect has both a responsibility and a continued role in helping the contractor bring the project to fruition. The complexity of both pavilions was challenging, to be sure, with limited time available, but the contractor is not the only party to consider.

Ben van Berkel’s pavilion was brought to fruition with the help of the local architect Doug Garofalo, with experience with fabricating unusual geometries. Zaha worked with local architect Tom Roszak, experienced in real estate development. The results speak for themselves.

Geoff Goldberg, AIA

Friends of the Parks (FOTP) applauds the Reader for its usual in-depth reporting on many issues that affect our parks in Chicago. The recent edition that focused on Daniel Burnham and related issues at Millennium Park provided useful information on several layers of topics that confront our city, including celebrating Chicago’s many legacies, both good and bad, that are reflected in our parks.

In regards to your comments on our Last Four Miles plan [“Daniel Burnham Told Us to Fill the Potholes Too” by Bill Savage], FOTP has a neighborhood focus and agrees that more must be invested in our neighborhood parks, children’s playgrounds and the creation of new parks in park-deficient neighborhoods. We do not believe, however, that the completion of Chicago’s lakefront park system precludes the Park District’s continued investment in neighborhood parks.

One of the fundamental principles of Daniel Burnham’s vision and the Plan of Chicago was to create a public lakefront park system. It is one the key features that was actually implemented for 26 of the 30 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline that included the construction but one island. This remarkable public lakefront has resulted in Chicago being one of the nation’s great cities. Even in such difficult times as the Great Depression and wars, Chicago taxpayers voted affirmatively on 83 binding referenda to increase their property tax dollars to invest in their future by continuing to construct lakefront parks, both on the North and South Sides of the city. Imagine what our city would look like without the leadership and risk-taking that our predecessors exercised.

FOTP’s Last Four Miles Plan presents a concept for the next several years to embrace and finish the work of previous generations by completing Chicago’s most important urban asset: Lake Michigan and its lakefront park system. The plan is anticipated to be accomplished over time as funds become available.

The first phases, however, can be accomplished with no public dollars. Over 140 acres of lakefront land between the Calumet River and Calumet Park lie fallow and barricaded off from the public with razor wire. A simple, zero cost amendment to state legislation could transfer that land to the Park District for a future lakefront park. A second no cost public park expansion opportunity exists on both the North and South Sides where Mother Nature has caused Lake Michigan to recede and created acres of new beaches. Recently, more than five acres of new parks have been formed from Ardmore to Lane beach, thus implementing part of the Last Four Miles Plan naturally. Indeed, Friends of the Parks calls on the city and the Chicago Park District to claim that parkland and take advantage of this opportunity to complete our lakefront path. In year one, with no dollars expended, the first 160 acres of the Last Four Miles could be completed.

In this era of far too much reliance on automobiles and far too little encouragement to our children to get away from video games, the completion of the lakefront path for pedestrians and bikers is a worthwhile investment for future generations, echoing the gifts bestowed on us by our ancestors.

Erma Tranter


Friends of the Parks

Bill Savage replies:

The Last Four Miles Plan on the Friends of the Parks Web site proposes spending another $400 million on landfill at a time when resources are limited and other Park District properties are neglected. And as the Tribune reported on July 18, lake levels are on the rise again after a ten-year decline. Free land that’s there now may soon be submerged, unless, of course, we build a lot of expensive landfill. The lakefront as it stands is indeed one of Chicago’s great resources; we could develop some of the city’s inland resources before further gilding the lily.

Bill, thanks for calling attention to the need for better planning. Population in the seven counties of metropolitan Chicago is expected to reach nearly 11 million by 2040. To accommodate these 2.8 million new residents, our region has some urgent decisions to make in the very near future.

Should rapid growth outward continue? Or should we consolidate housing and jobs where infrastructure already exists? Should we emphasize roads or transit—or invest in both? How can we reduce energy use while also strengthening our region’s economy?

We can’t solve everything at once, so it’s all about trade-offs. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has launched an important new “Invent the Future” phase of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive planning process. By visiting www.goto2040.org or attending one of our workshops, you can provide input that will help us prioritize regional investments and policies.

In venues all over the region—timed to coincide with the centennial celebration of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago—you can:

Attend one of 50 workshops that CMAP will hold with partners across the seven counties.

Visit www.goto2040.org to create, share, and compare your own future scenarios.

Test-drive an interactive GO TO 2040 kiosk at dozens of locations, including Millennium Park, Metra stations, libraries, festivals, and other sites around the region.

By the end of 2009, CMAP will outline a preferred growth scenario that best reflects the region’s desired future, based on public feedback, research, and qualitative analysis. Over the winter, CMAP will flesh out the scenario by identifying major capital projects that require investment. In the spring of 2010, CMAP will communicate a draft of the full plan to its planning partners and the public, with adoption of a final plan in the fall of 2010.

For more information on how to participate, visit www.goto2040.org or contact CMAP (312-454-0400 or info@cmap.illinois.gov).


Movies on Demand

You guys are knuckleheads. the new formatting of the movies section is a mess. Where there was once easy navigation and visual clarity there is now confusion and annoyance. and movie posters of only a partial list of what’s playing. furthermore, listing the theaters by their full amc, kreosote googleplex names is utterly unhelpful unless you happen to own one of the googleplex chains. please restore the old system and stop fixing what isn’t broken.


I completely agree. This is not just a case of being used to an old way and not wanting to change. I welcome Internet innovation if it improves the navigation/friendliness/ergonomics. I just spent 10 minutes looking at each of the little micro-neighborhood listings, then trying to memorize what was playing where and then unifying it all in my pitiful brain to decide what movie I wanted to see. This is flat out ridiculous. There is absolutely no way that anyone gave this a thorough review from the standpoint of oh, let’s see, THE PEOPLE WHO VISIT TO THIS WEBSITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The biggest problem is the missing “Currently playing” section. I thrive on that and it’s either gone or I can’t find it.


Whoa, really? Just look under Movies: Showtimes from the menu. Actually it is a HUGE improvement, since it allows you to refine your search by day, genre, etc.

Hey, Reader. As someone who also works in Web development I applaud you. Seemed pretty easy to navigate to me and I love that you’ve incorporated a dynamic database into it.


The Reader replies:

The Web site conversion is a work in progress, and we apologize for any inconvenience the process is causing. Some users will be unhappy about some of our choices, but some of the problems users are experiencing are merely temporary.

Restaurant Finding

I’m not sure where to direct this comment, but I recently was on your new restaurant search page. I was very disappointed to see that the old way of searching for a restaurant within X miles of a theatre, movie house, etc. has been eliminated. PLEASE bring it back! That feature made your website my and my wife’s No. 1 stop for a restaurant search. Now it is just like all the rest with overly broad neighborhood categories. You had such a unique, useful search engine. I hope you bring it back.

David J. Sullivan

Attorney at Law

The Reader replies:

If you’re looking at movie times and click on location details, you can sort nearby restaurants down to cuisine level.

The Joravsky Results?

It’s all well and good, and certainly true, to hear Micaela di Leonardo call Ben Joravsky “a Chicago journalism treasure” [Letters, July 9]. But her enthusiasm about the impact of his reporting leaves me cold. Who cares, I’m thinking, if the “Joravsky Effect” she speaks of triggers some muckraking at the Sun-Times or Tribune, as she says? Bottom line, what’s the use of reading good reporting if Chicagoans living in a closed political system can’t do a damn thing with it?

The Joravsky Effect is a nifty concept. But I would ask Ms di Leonardo to consider an axiom of digital age journalism. In an age fueled by demand for interactive media experiences, what journalists report matters less than what citizens can do with this reporting. The Joravsky Effect, to have real impact, must be realized (and monetized) in media platforms that Chicago presently lacks: ongoing, universally accessible public forums designed to give all Chicagoans an informed voice in weighing the pros and cons of any issue of citywide importance.

Wow. Think of it. A city that actually uses modern interactive media to help citizens and government make decisions on the basis of solid information dug up by not only by intrepid reporters like Ben Joravsky but by ordinary Chicagoans as well!

Now that’s a city worth living in. What’s more, a citizen-participatory media is in the cards for Chicago. Why? The answer is staring us in the face. The miracle of digital technologies gives Chicago the chance to create ongoing public forums and civic dialogs, print and electronic, that make citizens and government responsive and accountable to each other in solving the problems, resolving the conflicts and maximizing the opportunities that will shape the city’s future.

From a purely economic standpoint, these civic dialogs will tap massive demand for interactive media experiences, including pent-up demand for interactive political experiences. They will reach out to all 2.5 million Chicagoans, most of us presently marginalized and disempowered when it comes to city politics.

The very existence of this huge “market of the whole,” combined with the ability of modern communications technologies to tap it, makes civic media dialogs like these not just inevitable but imminent.

If all this is so, why aren’t Chicago media execs, foundations, civic groups and university departments of journalism and communication racing to create true civic dialogs before Rupert Murdoch steps in and stiffs us all with exploitative travesties of them? Good question, but soon to be moot because disruptive change is in the air and Chicago’s digital future will differ radically from its analog past. What matters now is to see that the city’s economic, political, educational and cultural futures all hinge on Chicago’s determination to create civic dialogues before the exploiters do.

BTW, Ben Joravsky deserves a raise, as Ms di Leonardo suggests.

Steve Sewall,

Chicago Civic Media Project

Wine, Cheese, and Albini

Re: Shellac subs for Rokia Traore in Millennium Park (The Blog, July 14)

It would be so funny if Albini surprises the crowd with Big Black and Rapeman songs.