Troubled Landmarks Rule in Chicago Could Upset Preservation Across U.S.

Chicago's historic landmarks ordinance is being challenged in the courts and is expected to be ruled unconstitutional. Blair Kamin discusses the impact the rule change could have on historic preservation in Chicago and beyond.

"Yet the effort to safeguard this mid-1960s classic is grinding forward rather than speeding ahead. That is a consequence, some preservation advocates contend, of a court challenge that could jeopardize Chicago's 41-year-old landmark ordinance-and the 281 individual landmarks and 51 districts it safeguards, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall, Louis Sullivan's former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. store on State Street, and Wrigley Field.

In January, the Illinois Appellate Court deemed the law to be unconstitutionally vague. When the Illinois Supreme Court denied the city's appeal of that ruling last Thursday, it sent the case back to the Cook County Circuit Court, where a judge is thought to have little choice but to strike down the law.

The case has jolted historic preservationists around the country, and for good reason."

Full Story: Turmoil over landmark law making waves in and outside Chicago



No surprise here

Sadly the vague nature of Chicago's landmarks ordinance is no surprise. Quality government has been missing in the City of Chicago under both Daleys. But I guess that's the nature of any de facto dictatorship. Folks from outside the Chicago area have no idea how dictatorial both of them have been. And you've got no idea of how poorly so many Chicago ordinances are written. The City Council continues to be a rubber stamp for Mayor Daley II, even as he sells (well, kind of gives away) the city's assets to private companies to exploit. The parking meter boondoggle is a typical example of how Richie Daley rams bad legislation through a compliant city council. Daley II started out as a much better mayor than his father. But he has slowly been morphing into his father, for the worse.

But like his father, Richie keeps the lid on everything by taking care of people -- work for him and you'll be well off the rest of your life. It's amazing how many former city employees land top-paying jobs with the companies that are leasing the city's assets.

Reform in Chicago -- and Illinois for that matter -- seems almost hopeless. Too many powerful and wealthy people are making a fortune off the city and state -- their financial contributions will continue to maintain the status quo as they rape the public in full view of a mostly compliance media.

There, I've said it. Now ask me how I really feel.

Daniel Lauber, AICP
AICP President 2003-2005, 1992-1994
APA President 1985-1986

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