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Be Careful What You Ask For


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Ben Joravsky's cover story gave me pause to puke. It is pure poppycock to lay all the blame for the pathetic preservation record in the city of Chicago at the feet of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois and other preservation groups.

Was the intent irony or commentary that drove the placement of an ad for Salvage One directly below a segment of the article? Ah, but the irony continues. Their customers are the same city-dwelling professionals of a certain narcissistic consumerist bent that expressed no interest in preserving these buildings in their contextual entirety. Once the building has been chopped and cleaned into nice neat little pieces they jump at the chance to buy a fragment or two, hang them on their wall like some kind of wild-game trophy. Such an honorable group would include lawyers, developers, even journalists, architects, and preservationists.

But I digress. City developers are itchin' at the chance to tear buildings down in the name of progress and redevelopment, and the city is more than happy to scratch that itch. Meanwhile Mayor Daley, with a pocket full of campaign donations, sits atop a pile of pebbles and terra cotta dust sneering at preservationists and the concerned public. "Tough luck, suckers."

LPCI, whose day job is preservation, understand that the realistic approach is with a negotiation tactic that has certainly resulted in more than a few successes. Joravsky's call for preservationists to "make some demands" is rather reckless. What an effective demand is he does not provide, unless he means by gunpoint. Unfortunately, with the state of the world as it is, carrying cardboard signs on wooden sticks is about as far as you can go without increasing the terrorist alert.

By the way, if you're paying attention, Ben Joravsky, demonstrations by advocacy groups (mostly a volunteer membership) have taken the fight to City Hall and corporate headquarters with positive results. The sad truth is picket demonstrations don't have quite the effect as hostage taking. Regime changes. Now there's an idea.

W.R. Pospishil


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