Old fashioned opulence

Old fashioned opulence

A hopeless traditionalist, I have been known to go to the Drake sometimes.  Yes, I go to the fusty old bar and drink a Manhattan, after a night of Molière (updated).  I love the old colonial wallpaper of the Coq d’Or. . . . Upstairs, the Palm Court exudes old-fashioned glamour. . . I enjoy seeing this room when it’s full of people.  When a live band is playing and people are dancing, this place is positively lousy with charm.

You may enjoy this view of the Drake on a vintage postcard.

Beneath the facade

Under the facade (Credit: Celia Her City)

This old building had been vacated and was in the early stages of a gut re-hab.  The businesses on the first floor had all been kicked out, and their facades and signs removed, revealing an old sign—’SURGICAL SUPPLIES – FINEST CUTLERY’—from an earlier time.

What would it have been like to step into that shop, say, a hundred years ago, with its glistening displays of knives and . . . saws?

The sign was visible only for a short period.  Whether it was thrown out, preserved, or papered over with today’s new sign, I do not know.  Sadly, the only picture I have of it is this poor one I took with my cell phone as I was rushing to an appointment.

Click image to enlarge.

At the window

The upper floors of Chicago's Fisher Building (© Celia Her City)

The sun strikes the top of the Fisher Building and the flat modern facade of the CNA.  The light strikes the city, whose landmarks are the creations of different ages and mentalities, the works of egotists and humble builders unknown.  We live among these warring monuments, counting the years of their lives, wondering, perhaps, which is greatest and the dearest, and why.  Myriad sights like this one flow in through our eyes, pulling crosswise at our affections and allegiances.  We live with their deeds.

The big window

The big window

A nearer view of the big window in the office.  Over one hundred years old, it’s about 6 feet wide and over 7 feet high.  Believe it or not, still it opens smoothly (check out those big handles), and I can open it whenever I want!  The thing comes equipped with an old-fashioned roller blind, which, at certain hours and seasons, is necessary to use.  Because it’s a landmarked building, no other window coverings are allowed.

Sideways views

November 2011, © Celia Her City

It was the enormous window that sold me on this office, as well as the fact that (though in an ancient building) the space was in like-new condition.

You might not think the view would amount to much, but near the window the sideways views are pretty decent, especially in weird weather, or when the daylight fails, and the buildings outside begin to light up.

Sideways 1, © 2013 Celia Her City

Sideways 2, © 2013 Celia Her City

Fisher Building early one evening, © 2013 Celia Her City

The Fisher Building is quite a glorious thing, with a facade fairly encrusted with fancy old glazed brick and terra-cotta.  To be honest, I waste time looking at it each day.

What I have is a real urban view—with nary a tree or blade of grass in sight—but with enough atmosphere to give a Dreiser novel like Sister Carrie a run for its money.

My new office

My new office

I call it that, but I’ve been renting this space for more than a year.  It’s where I should be revising the Book That Will Make Me Famous or founding the Online Media Empire That Will Make Me Rich, one or the other.

You may think I’m joking, but I have a long manuscript sitting in a box that’s been provisionally accepted at a major academic publisher, and I do wish to be making some serious money.

The office has an enormous window, offering views of a number of historic buildings.  If I stand just right and bend a certain way, I can even see the elevated train as it runs by.

This office is a sort of proxy for my professional identity.  It looks a little better now, though, than it did in November 2011, when this picture was taken.

How we know we’re home

The front elevator (Credit: Celia Her City)

We enter an old wooden box made of mahogany, which carries us up several stories.  In the garage, a nice man takes our suitcases and groceries out of our car and brings them up in the back elevator.  We adhere to the rules of entry that announce our return from the country and govern the formal territory that we call home.

The back elevator is for dogs, and when you’re in a hurry.  It smells, but people in it are more friendly.  The front elevator induces an up-tight decorum.  Conversation, if it occurs, tends to be brief and stilted.  Once, though, I caught a little girl doing a handstand in it, her father looking on, with a sly smile on his face, doing nothing to stop her.  Kids are kids after all, and we wouldn’t want her personality to be as square as the old elevator that we have to use.

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