One of my favorite things about Chicago — and living very downtown — is the juxtaposition of tall gleaming skyscrapers with beautiful old buildings that have stood there for decades. Walking down the street, half the buildings it seems has a plaque announcing its historical significance.
Sadly, nowadays, they are no longer home to independent publishing companies or enormous department stores (former Marshall Fields/present-day Macy’s excluded) or classy hotels; instead today, they house McDonald’s and Subway and Starbucks (it’s no joke; there are literally eight Subway restaurants in a three-block radius from my apartment).
And then, towering over these reused beautiful buildings are structures made entirely of metal and glass. For the most part they are elegant in their own way (with some exceptions), but they don’t have the warmth of something that’s been around for years.
Walking into Target on State and Madison — even though it is very clearly a Target — it still has a lot of the original architecture and character. And try walking into Macy’s downtown and not feel, despite all the new merchandise, that you’ve walked into the kind of store that’s almost non-existent, except in major metropolises (metropoli? metropoluses?). This is not your shopping mall Macy’s; I’m still surprised there isn’t an elevator operator announcing the departments on each of its nine floors.
I love that — you’re surrounded by the new, but the old has clearly not yet been forgotten.