Monday, August 6, 2018

Will signs of businesses past cause confusion for future Chicagoans?

I suppose people will argue it’s a matter of historic preservation, but there’s a part of me that thinks it’s ridiculous that the giant letters of gothic type spelling out “Chicago Tribune” will remain in place on the building the newspaper no longer uses.
Sign to be restored around 2020

Tribune Media (the division that operates the television stations) sold the nearly century-old tower that was corporate headquarters, and the newspaper that had been housed there for decades made its move just over a month ago.
Dominant sign near Tribune's new digs

IT SEEMS THE company that bought the building (and has plans to convert it into condominiums) thought it was buying the rights to the building, as-is. Including the eight-foot-high letters that spelled out the newspaper name.

While the newspaper thought they had the right to take their sign with them to their new offices in the one-time Prudential Building just a few blocks to the south.

In the end, it appears the sign will remain in place – with the argument being made that it is a part of the historic character of the structure that the company thought it was buying along with the structure itself.
Retail rivalry signs live on, even though Field's … 
The sign itself will be taken down later this year when the construction work needed to convert the structure into high-end condominiums for the ridiculously-wealthy of Chicago residents. When that work is complete (sometime around the year 2020), the sign will be restored.

WILL WE HAVE future generations of out-of-towners who get confused about where exactly one of our city’s newspapers is located?
& Carson's are no more

Particularly because it seems that there isn’t anything excessively prominent to let people from outside know that the Tribune is located where it is now.

I took a recent day trip downtown just to walk around, and checked out the Prudential Building area because I wanted to see for myself just how prominently the newspaper had put its stamp on its new digs.

I found nothing. I had to have it pointed out to me where exactly the Tribune’s new home is. The Tribune hasn’t let its professional ego take over its new site.

IF ANYTHING, THE huge sign marking the building as the corporate headquarters of The Prudential Insurance Company of America is still all-dominant. Just as a few blocks once one crosses the Chicago River and one-time site of Fort Dearborn, the gothic type of the Chicago Tribune will be a very visual reminder of what once was.

Maybe that’s not too confusing. Take a little trip along State Street just a few blocks away, and you’ll see the signs remaining on Marshall Field’s and Carson, Pirie, Scott – even though it is Macy’s and Target that now do business in the one-time downtown flagships of Chicago’s classic retailers.
Past newspapers live on only as Mich. Ave. plaque

Maybe it’s evidence of my increasing age (I’m on the ‘experienced’ side of the half-century mark), but I’m at the point where every time I head into the city, I notice something else missing.

I’m starting to develop in my memory an entire city that no longer exists in quite the same form.

I ONCE THOUGHT it odd that a part of me still expects to see the brick, whitewashed building at 35th Street on the Dan Ryan Expressway, instead of the pale pink concrete paneled structure that replaced it as the Chicago White Sox ballpark some 28 years ago.

Of course, it also makes me realize there are older generations of people who would regard themselves as life-long Chicagoans for whom my Chicago of memory would be a whole lot of nonsense – none of it existed when they were around.
How many think Macy's Frango Mints the  same? Photos by Gregory Tejeda
We have a city of perpetual change. It may be a sign of continued development. Because stagnation is not something we’d want to occur.

Although I also noticed that when I used the search engine of to confirm the new Chicago Tribune address, it persisted in telling me the newspaper is at Tribune Tower north of the river. Perhaps the Internet is confused by the sign’s remaining in place – and may be evidence we shouldn’t put too much trust in anything we find on these computers.


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