Build Up, Break Down
Thursday, October 26, 2006
What is it about a fire that intrigues people? Appealing to each person's inner pyromaniac, the media continue to write follow-up on the South Loop fire. It would seem that, today, the interest surrounds the architectural preservationist that had grand plans to renovate the building. She ordered the basement boiler to be cut into scrap, and apparently, those acetylene torches set off the fire that ultimately destroyed the building.

Above: Emergency crews close off State Street.

Because I'm somewhat of an architecture buff myself, I will refrain from complaining about the smoke that filled our neighborhood (the dog still smells like campfire, which I find hilarious) and I won't bitch about the CTA chaos either. I think we ALL are thanking our lucky stars that nothing tragic happened to the people working in/around the building, or riding the eL train that passes within 5 feet of it.

For those of you that have not read Erik Larson's Devil In the White City, please do so immediately. It's dense, but also rewarding, and it explains why Chicago continues to have an active architectural legacy -- it also gives history on why this building is so important to so many people.

Anyone who lives in a major metropolitan area can attest to the strange sense of ownership that one gets living "downtown." Sure you give up the green grass and convenience of the suburbs when you live in the city, but what suburbanite can get to Michigan Avenue, or State Street,in less than 10 minutes? City dwellers have a bond with, and a responsibility for each skyscraper, alley, ballpark, and shady looking dry cleaner.

The wrecking crews arrived yesterday afternoon, and by this morning, I noticed that half of the building is already gone. Which is a damn shame.

Update: I have photos of the live fire, as in flames coming out of the windows and also photos of this morning's resulting wreckage, but Blogger is being a bitch and won't let me post them. Which is also a damn shame.