Build Chicago (8-20-1986)

Chicagoland was looking to the future.  The news was full of building plans, both for the city and for the ‘burbs.

A few years before, Chicago mayor Harold Washington had unveiled plans by developer James Rouse to make Navy Pier a shopping and entertainment center.  But the mayor’s proposal had been killed by the hostile city council.  The latest idea was more modest–to convert the pier into a combination jogging path and picnic ground.

Municipal Pier, 1916

Municipal Pier, 1916

Meanwhile, a group of developers was trying to lure Disney Company to the city.  They wanted Disney to built a combined shopping-business complex northwest of the Loop.  Governor James Thompson was already talking about tax concessions.

Out in DuPage County, the White Sox wanted to build a new stadium in Addison.  Comiskey Park was getting old, and team owners had decided it wasn’t worth fixing.  DuPage residents had been holding meetings on the issue.  Polls indicated that most of them were against the ballpark.

All three stories reflected concern about the future.  The economic bust of the 1970s had hit the old “rust-belt” cities hard.  Now that things had improved, they were struggling to come back.  Chicago and its suburbs had done better than most.  But there was still that nagging doubt.

Build Chicago!

Build Chicago!


The Tribune was in favor of bold plans.  The paper argued that new projects by Rouse and Disney would bring more people downtown, and help existing business.  There would also be more entry-level jobs for young people.

“The city’s treasury is poorer today, and the area’s families are missing out on a lot of fun.”  the Tribune said.  The political sniping had to stop.  The fear-driven caution had to end.  “Don’t let Mr. Rouse and the Disney people get out of town without a solid invitation.”

Fast forward to 2013.  The White Sox are still in the city, in a ballpark built with state funds.  And the Navy Pier complex is Chicago’s leading tourist attraction.



1 Response to “Build Chicago (8-20-1986)”

  1. 1 Ralph October 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    When I was a kid I always liked going to Navy Pier with my Dad and watch the ships being unloaded.

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