Everything changes in life. I say that a lot in this space, but some changes are easier to process than others. And this change is one that I wasn’t quite prepared for. So of course I need to write a few words about it here, since this blog acts as my own brand of therapy.
The old Carson, Pirie Scott building in downtown Chicago is about as old school–Chicago School, that is–as you can get. It was built in 1899, at the corner that is ground zero for Chicago’s grid system: State and Madison Streets. Madison divides North Side from South Side, and State Street divides East from West. Simply put, this intersection is hugely symbolic when you live in Chicago.
So it was troubling when the store that had occupied the space for a century–and for the first 20 years that I was in the Chicago area– shut its doors a few years ago. State Street has changed a lot over the years, but it felt like something was missing at that intersection. Marshall Field’s turning into a Macy’s was traumatic, but at least there was still retail activity in that space. But Carson’s, with its elaborate metal facade that never could–and never would–appear in any new building today, had just disappeared.
So this week, Target set up shop in the lower two floors of the building. When I drove past the old building, which now has some new life breathed into it, the mixture of the old facade with the modern corporate logo was striking.
The past has gone away, and we’ll never again see that building as home to an enormous department store. But having something new in its place is certainly a step in the right direction. If nothing else, at least it’s not a Wal-Mart.