Federal Plaza

Federal Plaza neighbors

Federal Plaza Vista (Spring), Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

The south end of the Federal Plaza has recently seen an upgrade of the mechanical systems that lie beneath it.  After being closed for more than a year, it has been replanted and is again open to the public.

I like to imagine what stood on this spot in other days.  Before the squat black Mies van der Rohe post office was built, a grand old cruciform Federal Building, capped by a fancy dome, took up the whole block.  It was destroyed to make way for the present complex in the 1960s.

The buildings ringing the site—the Clark-Adams, the Com-Ed Building, and the old Marquette—seem to get along well with their new neighbor, though.  And the new plantings only enhance an already appealing scene.

Rally at 5

Political rally at Chicago's Federal Plaza, © 2013 Celia Her City

The Flamingo turned a fantastic color during a rally Wednesday.

It was great weather for a protest, mild and clear.  The rally began in the afternoon, my old office window rattling from all the noise.  It was still going on as commuters began pouring into the streets at 5.

The rally was in support of charter schools, but most passersby really had no idea, or took it for just another teachers’ rally.  There are so many protests in the Loop, and lots of agitation about the schools.

Click image to enlarge.

Bert was here

Bert was here

If Calder could know how much pleasure his sculpture gives, he’d be happy.

It’s quite poorly named.  The thing, in most lights, has few of the flamingo’s qualities.  With its squat, heavy base and monumental scale it more resembles an aardvark, or perhaps an anteater.  And the red makes one think of the Fire and a phoenix.  (Will Chicago rise from the difficulties consuming it now?)

Notwithstanding its name, the Flamingo makes a delightful frame.  It grabs your attention and holds it, prevailing against the tall bland buildings dwarfing it on all sides.  Its massive curves and primary red blast away at its surroundings—at the universe—, forcing you to take it into account in some way.

So, yes, when leaving the post office on a rainy day, I did have stop and take this picture, and consider the red bleeding into the puddles, like the fantasy land that Bert drew on the sidewalk in Mary Poppins.

This morning

Smith and Wollensky/Marina City © 2013 Celia Her City

Beneath the Corn Cobs, the tables were all set up at Smith and Wollensky, for all those lucky souls intent on steak dinners tonight.

Slumbering on North LaSalle, © 2013 Celia Her City

An organized slumberer occupied a bus shelter on North LaSalle.  What’s next, indeed.

7 eleven, © 2013 Celia Her City

The wait, © 2013 Celia Her City

A driver awaited his party outside a sleek office building.

Sequestered snow, © 2013 Celia Her City

Snow had been sequestered at one end of Federal Plaza (note nearby police).

Another morning in an American city, © 2013 Celia Her City

Another morning at the P.O., © 2013 Celia Her City

The post office, a glass oasis, filtered the action outside.

Beneath the Flamingo, their voices will rise © 2013 Celia Her City

From beneath the Flamingo, their voices will rise.  How many protests has this bird seen?

Another morning, with media, © 2013 Celia Her City

Even without seeing the big picture, you know where you are.

The cozy side of modern

Nightscape (Credit: Celia Her City)

Beyond the Calder lies a peaceful way, threading between Mies’s modern creations, past stony old skyscrapers rendered cheerful by illumination and the cloak of night.  Walk far enough, and you will travel back a century to the old el station at Quincy.  Dull enough by day, the buildings glow and turn festive, their bright dots and dashes telegraphing life in ways reminiscent of that old Georgia O’Keeffe painting.

Click image to enlarge.