Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Review of "Then & Now: Chicago’s Loop," by Janice A. Knox and Heather Olivia Belcher

Review of

Then & Now: Chicago’s Loop, by Janice A. Knox and Heather Olivia Belcher ISBN 9780738519685

Five out of five stars

The inevitable and necessary change documented

 Even if you know little about a city, it is always interesting to see how it has changed over time. Buildings are built that are state of the art at the time of construction, but businesses and societal needs alter over time. These changes necessitate either significant revisions or the complete destruction of buildings.

 Chicago’s first permanent settler was a black fur trader named Jean Baptiste Point DuSable that had a Native American wife and he established a trading post on the north bank of the Chicago River. This was the first commercial enterprise in what was to become Chicago and it was successful, leading others to settle in the area. With access to Lake Michigan, which meant all of the Great Lakes area was within reasonable reach and with the Chicago River flowing from the inland through the area, there was access deep into the interior. It was not long before there was a portage that allowed goods to travel from the Mississippi River basin fairly easily back-and-forth to Chicago. This linkage was completed in 1848, only 11 years after the city was incorporated.

 These photos demonstrate a city that is seemingly always in transition, where buildings go up, are functional for a long time and then are either dramatically altered or demolished and replaced. Due to its central location as a transit point for goods, the city grew extremely fast and you can see that in these before and after images.

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