A part of my heart will always belong to Chicago--no matter where I live.
Growing in the suburbs of Chicago, the city was always the gleaming, strong, inspiring place I gravitated towards. I'd take the train into the city as often as I possibly could afford to, just to walk the streets. When I was finally able to drive, I'd venture into the city every spare moment I had in my 1976 yellow Honda Civic Wagon. Yes, that's right--a yellow station wagon. I actually picked that car. Granted, cost had a lot to do with it (it was just under $500) but there were other choices for that price. I picked, The Wagon. Yellow. I know, Sexy. I was beating them away with a stick. It was dubbed "The Duck." The Duck was rusted (with holes) all around the base and door edges. It even had a enough rust on the driver's side floorboards, that I placed a piece of wood under my floor mats in order to not go through the hole that opened up to the street below---Fred Flintstone style. It didn't matter though. If I could scrape together the gas money, I'd be jugging down to the Big City with a big, goofy smile on my face the whole way. I think I may have been singing something off key along way as well. Good Times.
Seeing the skyline unfolding in front of me, as I got closer, gave me goosebumps everytime. It still does. I'd walk the city streets for hours. On weekends, I'd be down there from sunup to way beyond sundown. The streets heard my dreams with every step. Oh, they were big--embarrassingly big. They kept them and encouraged even bigger ones.
Chicago's architecture has always been more than first class. It defines the city beyond just aesthetics. The place is a visual feast of everything I love about my hometown. The modest strength and perseverance of the people. The amazing scope and personality of it's weather. The comfort and diversity of it's food. Every time I hear about a new restaurant, business, hotel or other new building being built or refurbished I get excited. Another awesome story is being told!
The newest one is PUBLIC. A hugely ginormous transformation for Chicago's Gold Coast famed Ambassador Hotel East. I used to walk that neighborhood all the time. I'd pass the original Ambassador and image living in such a building. Yup, a night's stay wasn't enough. I wanted to live there...actually I wanted the whole building. My goal was to open it up to be a mix use live-work space for creative types. I told you the dreams were big. Well, Ian Schrager beat me to it and turned it into an amazingly gorgeous new hotel. The classic bones are still in tact with a freshness that feels like it was always there.