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Showing posts from December, 2014

Chicago flashback: How Daniel Burnham, redivivus, inspired the Chicago Tribune's New Plan of Chicago

(Print version of this long 3800 word post)

Ever wonder what goes on in that tiny ornate octagonal room at the very top of the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue? 

Well, it's reserved for seances. Back in the 1920's, legendary Tribune owner and Tribune Tower builder Colonel Robert McCormick found himself caught up in the backward-looking spirituality of the Gothic Revival, of which his Tribune Tower is a world-famous example. Convinced that great figures from Chicago's past could provide wise guidance and counsel to current Tribune editors whenever the city's present was so troubled or degraded as to defy all mortal comprehension, the Colonel fancifully topped off his Tower with an ornate, eight-windowed, private-access room and furnished it with a massive octagonal table equipped, at its center, with a funny-looking electronic device that somewhat resembled an old Chicago parking meter.

But this was no ordinary device. Once illuminated, it zapped out time-transcendin…