What of Washington Park Now?
From Beachwood reader Michael O’Connor:
“I thought one of the most understated but effective rebukes to the Olympic hedgemony was in Blair Kamin’s column in the SundayTribune.
He simply took the Green Line to 51st St. and described the immediate
area near Washington Park. Then he posed a simple question: If
Washington Park was a jewel of greenspace when designed by Fredrick Law
Olmstead, why has it been allowed to decline so? Where, Mr. Mayor, is
the pressure you put on private money to build Millennium Park on top
of railroad yard and why won’t you do the same thing for this part of
“On Wednesday, anticipating that Chicago might get the nod from the
International Olympic Committee, I took the Chicago Transit Authority’s
Green Line from the Loop down to the 51st Street station, a few blocks
from the stadium site in Washington Park.
“The greeting I got there was not pretty: cracked sidewalks, broken
glass, vacant lots strewn with trash, a couple of thriving businesses,
like a crowded barbershop, but just as many boarded-up storefronts.
“If the Olympics had come to Chicago, there would have been a full
court press to spruce up the area, just as Mayor Richard M. Daley
pushed to give the Near West Side new parks, streets and housing, not
to mention yard upon yard of imitation wrought-iron fencing, before the
1996 Democratic National Convention.
“Now, that station represents in microcosm the challenge confronting post-Olympics Chicago.”