Tuesday, February 10, 2015

EXTRA: Pullman natl park is nice, but is it Obama library consolation prize?

President Barack Obama will be in Chicago next week to make the announcement that he’s using his presidential powers to designate the remains of the old Pullman Palace Railcar Factory and its surrounding company town a national park.

Which is a nice boost for Chicago’s South Side – it will mean recognition for historic events that took place in the area around 111th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue and will give tourists a reason to trek south and all the way to the Pullman neighborhood.

BUT SIMILAR LOGIC can be used to justify the presidential museum and library being proposed for either Washington or Jackson parks near the University of Chicago. A site for that museum is supposed to be chosen some time in March.

It would be nice for the South Side and far South Side if both of these major attractions were to come to Chicago this year. Heck, it would be nice for the city as a whole.

But being able to claim both of these attractions on the oft-neglected segment of Chicago south of Cermak Road would truly be an economic boost – along with a jolt to the pride of the great South Side!

Then again, it seems like way too much for the South Side to be getting both of these attractions within what could be one month’s time span.

WHEN I LEARNED of the likelihood of the national park designation for Pullman, my reaction was to wonder if this is the consolation prize for the eventual announcement that the Obama museum and library really is headed for Columbia – and I don’t mean the college on Michigan Avenue.

Now I don’t have any hard fact that says the Columbia University proposal is going to be the one picked by Barack and Michelle Obama to house their political and social legacy. This could literally be my paranoia running amok!

But would giving Chicago this Pullman attraction be the way of trying to assuage the ego of Chicago when it comes out next month that the Second City got skunked by either New York City or Honolulu?

I’m wondering how many people will try to pin down the president during his Pullman visit on Feb. 19 as to where in the process the presidential museum/library is.

WILL OBAMA FEEL more love for his undergraduate alma mater than the law school where he was once an instructor and in the neighborhood where he once lived (and still owns a home)?

I hope this isn’t really the way this scenario is playing out. Yet when political people are involved with something, there’s always the possibility of someone’s self-interest needing to be served before anything can get done.

Personally, all of the debate about dueling proposals seems like officials want to extort from Chicago and the University of Chicago every possible concession. In short, if we pay, it will come to us.

It we don’t pay up, it will go elsewhere.

WHICH MAY SATISFY those people who for whatever reason would just as soon not have the Obama museum/library in Chicago – either because their vision of what the city should be is cheap or because their ideology is just that snotty and disrespectful.

But for the rest of us (which various polls show is the majority of Chicagoans), this is a worthy attraction that could help us better comprehend and display the past several years when our political people really did reach the highest seats of power!

Who knows? Maybe it will work out!

In which case, the winter months of 2015 could go into the local history books not so much for all the darned snowfall we experienced, but for the two lasting sites we attracted.


No comments: