Demolish one of Chicago’s worst urban planning mistakes to revitalize waterfront

Here’s a Reagan-esque message for Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the Chicago Park District board of commissioners readies on October 14, 2015 to rubber-stamp one of his biggest pet projects, the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art: “Mr. Mayor, tear down that wall!

It’s time to start a civic conversation about getting rid of the shoreline’s Berlin Wall — the Lakeside Center of the McCormick Place convention center, a powerful work of steel-and-glass modernism that is one of Chicago‘s worst urban design mistakes.

The giant Lakeside Center blocks views of — and, to a large extent, access to — the shoreline from the west.

On the lakefront itself, it visually divides north from south, a holdover from the bad old days of a separate and unequal shoreline that favored affluent whites on the north at the expense of poor blacks on the south.

Parking lots and expressway ramps were built to serve it, further blighting the lakefront and Lake Shore Drive.

It has never been easy to reach by public transportation.

And it has long been an effective killer of migratory birds.

Let’s follow Burnham‘s famous “make no little plans” dictum and plan a big demolition that would liberate the lakefront from its Berlin Wall.

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