Pride of place

Pride of place (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityThe number of small businesses in Chicago is dizzying.  They line the long, unbending commercial streets, small fibers of a gargantuan economy.  Some are thriving and cheery; others ugly, halfhearted, even sinister.

This place, Lee’s Foreign Car Service, is a standout on the bland stretch of South Jefferson between Roosevelt Road and the Loop.  Regardless of what the service is like, the meticulous fusion of paint and signs on its exterior is impressive.

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.

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.

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