A memorable storm enveloped my office one February day. I had barely set down my coat or caught my breath before the big window that I have written of before beckoned me.
I looked out. The snow had intensified the colors of the buildings and muffled Chicago’s customary noise. The storm was as intense as it was unexpected. The mid-day streets were unusually silent.
Looking to the north, I was surprised to see the Mies van der Rohe building disappearing, as the flurry of snow contracted my view.
The snow fell heavily. Soon I could see only a handful of the nearest buildings. The newest of them was the Standard Club, which went up in the 1920s. A curious feeling stole over me as I saw myself surrounded by such old things. Everything in sight was at least ninety years old.
My attention was drawn to the magnificent stone ornaments of the Monadnock Building flanking my view.
To the south were the Fisher and Old Colony Buildings. Like my own building, they are well over a hundred years old.
Conditions were curiously similar to the most persuasive account I have read of time-travel, Jack Finney’s wonderful historical novel called Time and Again. In it, the narrator travels back more than a century as an evening snowstorm envelops New York’s Central Park and the lodgings he has taken at the Dakota Hotel. Can we slip back through time, in those moments when the past asserts itself powerfully enough?
The only question in my mind was how far back I would go. Would I be carried back to the 1920s, when the Standard Club was new, or as far back as the 1890s and the glorious razzle-dazzle of the Gilded Age?
All images © 2013 Celia Her City