13 jun 08 | Grist Environmental News

The Daley show; hot plans rile the Chicago waterfront

By Katharine Wroth

Two curious things going on along the waterfront in Chicago, which Mayor Richard Daley envisions as the "greenest city in America"; a brouhaha over plans to relocate the children's museum to Grant Park and a billion-dollar dream of a semicircular Eco-Bridge.

The $100 million museum plan was handily passed yesterday by the city council in what sounds like a stereotypical example of chicago's sausage-making politics. The plan's foes have argued that Grant Park is intended to remain "forever open, clear and free," while museum supporters say the facility will be largely underground; those involved expect the fight to move to the courts. Then there's theis practical-minded alderman: "There's violence all over this city - and we're fight over a children's museum," said Ald. Ed. Smith. "If you don't have children, you don't need a museum." Wha-bam.

Meanwhile, two architects have spent the last year talking up a two-mile-long land bridge arcing out along the same stretch of waterfront, complet with wind turbines. They say it would create a "grand civic space," provide room for recreation, and attract tourists. "Everyone has been conceptually for it," said architect Adrian Smith. The next step is "talking to the Corps of Engineers and then finding a billion dollars."

Also, considering that the rich residents near Grant Park were worried that the underground children's museum would "threaten views of the lake," it should be fun when they turn their steely gaze to this one.