Along the Chicago River, there’s a large, funky building which houses the Chicago Civic Opera. The building was designed by one Samuel Insull, who is said to have had a large throne in mind. If you look at the picture above, it does sort of resemble a throne, with its arm rests on either side and its high back.
A couple of days ago, I took a train into downtown Chicago with my daughters. As we exited the train station, I called their attention to the building, as it was facing us from across the River. I explained to them the throne concept, and threw in the kicker about how it was situated with its back turned to New York City. The throne part faces westward and New York is to the east.
My daughters looked up at the throne, deciding if I was telling them the truth or not, and the older daughter asked what it is about Chicago and New York. I tried my best to explain the idea of the “second city,” which gets at Chicago’s deep-seated complex about New York.
For me, only New York can make Chicago feel small. As large and self-assured as my adopted hometown is, it’s never been able to get past New York. It’s not easy to admit that but, in the hopes of bucking up a town that has some hard days and nights ahead of it, I’m willing to do exactly that.
Hang in there, Gotham City. This Chicagoan, and hopefully millions more, are counting on you–and the rest of the eastern seaboard–to weather this storm and come back better for the experience.