The Windy City Goes for Gold
Posted on October 2, 2009
To honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, Chicago held the Columbian Exposition, better known at the World’s Fair of 1893. It was a blockbuster event, planned by the noted architects Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmstead. Historians widely credit the Columbian Exposition as the first symbol of American exceptionalism, a sign that America was soon to become the dominant force in the world.
Since that time, Chicago has seen its fair share of up and downs. It is still a remarkable city, filled with great people, wonderful architecture, a beautiful lakefront, great restaurants, and great opera, a thriving blues scene, and rich cultural tradition that rivals any city in the world.
But Chicago also has its downsides. Crushing poverty in too many areas. The highest murder rate in the country. Political corruption that keeps the Justice Department extraordinarily busy. Aging infrastructure. The Cubs. The highest local tax rates in the country.
It was Daniel Burnham who said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”
The Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley takes Burnham’s exhortation seriously. He always has big plans for Chicago. Whether it was his plan to create a green city by encouraging buildings to plant gardens on their roofs or his latest idea to get the Olympics to Chicago, Daley has big ambitions for his hometown.
But Daley’s ambitions aren’t necessarily shared by the people of Chicago or by the nation at large. According to The Chicago Tribune, more than half of the people who live in the Windy City don’t want the Olympics. They don’t to pay for it with higher taxes, which is understandable. They don’t want Daley’s political cronies getting rich off of it, which is a fair point. They don’t want to deal with the traffic, which is already bad. They don’t want to be bothered, which is typical of about half the country on a regular basis.
But doing great things is all about getting some people bothered.
I think these people are whiners. And they shouldn’t be listened to.
And people like Glen Beck shouldn’t be listened to either. Beck, on his show last night, decided to take several pot-shots at Chicago. Chicago has its problems, but it is still a great city. Glen Beck is an idiot, and that will never change.
Beck sounded like a Democrat when he whined that the Olympics would cost too much, that we should spend more money in poor communities, that we need invest more on education. I heard those same arguments from whiners who didn’t want the baseball stadium built in Washington D.C.
I don’t particularly care for naysayers and whiners. The fact of the matter is that Chicago is a great city and it will put on a great show. Chicago is not LA, and it is not Atlanta. It’s a better city than either of those places.
More than a hundred years ago, Chicago showed the world to get ready for an American century. I hope in about two and half hours it gets the chance to show the world that America is still the leader of the free world, and will be for the foreseeable future.