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Daley vs. Reilly on Children’s Museum

(Photo: 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly.)

Today, was a litmus test for 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly. He failed.

Today, Alderman Reilly announced his opposition to the proposed relocation of the Chicago Children’s Museum from Navy Pier to a site on East Randolph Street in Grant Park.

Over the weekend on Carless, I expressed my dismay at the elitist, almost racist overtones of a September 2 Chicago Tribune editorial opposing the museum’s move (in a post that generated a surprising amount of confidential interest). Yesterday, Mayor Daley went a step further and publicly questioned whether the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) simply doesn’t want black children at play on substantially lily-white East Randolph Street. A quote from Daley in yesterday’s Tribune:

“You mean you don’t want children from the city in Grant Park? Why? Are they black? Are they white? Are they Hispanic? Are they poor? You don’t want children? We have children in Grant Park all the time. This is a park for the entire city.”

And further placing a fine point on the issue, Daley plopped the equally obvious elephant down on the table when asked whether the 110-year-old civic decree barring new buildings in Grant Park should be considered iron-clad:

“We would never build Millennium Park then.”

Exactly. Grant Park is the city’s front yard, not just my Ward’s front yard (I live in the 42nd Ward and staunchly supported Reilly over the failed juggernaut that was Burt Natarus). It’s the city’s front yard. It’s open to everyone. And if NEAR really wants to take that decree seriously, why don’t I see them picketing Millennium Park?

I am deeply disappointed that Alderman Reilly, elected on a populist plank of open doors and open ears for all 42nd Ward residents, has overreacted to the, ahem, minority opinion of the NEAR NIMBYs. Certainly, anyone living adjacent to a major park, museum, or in my case (as I blogged about for more than a year, including

Categories: Chicago Children's Museum Planning Politics

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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8 replies

  1. Brendan Reilly Calls for More Cars on Streeterville Streets

    (Photo: You’re kidding, right? Brendan Reilly favors cars over transit in downtown Chicago.) I am strongly rethinking my support for Brendan Reilly, the allegedly progressive Democrat who earlier this year won Chicago’s 42nd Ward from longtime alderma…

  2. Bryan, as widely reported in the media (see most recently the Chicago Tribune coverage of September 22), several high-profile individuals have attested to overt racism at meetings with NEAR, not the least of whom being CTA chair Carole Brown. So calling the mayor a liar in this regard ignores the facts.

    Cheryl and Yellow Dog: As for Grant Park being “expanded” with the creation of Millennium Park, “A View on Cities” is mistaken. According to the Chicago History Museum’s Encyclopedia of Chicago History, the original 1835 borders of Grant Park extended north and west to the intersection of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue. The museum’s information page specifically notes that the railroad tracks that now sit beneath Millennium Park originally ran (emphasis mine) through the park.

    Cheryl, I don’t know anyone who could imagine Grant Park without the Art Institute exactly where it is. Regarding being “forced to walk through the gift shop” of the Chicago Children’s Museum to enter and leave, I spent two-and-a-half hours at the museum yesterday interviewing museum staff for an upcoming post. Neither entering nor leaving the museum by the main entrance did I need to walk through the gift shop, so I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    Vivienne, I couldn’t agree with you more. But I also think that the entire “open, clear, and free” argument from the NEAR group is also a red herring. I think the crux of their opposition is, simply, economic elitism (as I blogged about on ).

  3. Is this author crazy? there were never any racial overtones at any of the meetings. This is about money. Daley is the Pritzker’s puppy dog. And now he has proven to the whole city that he is a LIAR!

  4. Chicago’s Most Important Open-Space Issue in 20 Years

    (Photo: Would you bring your children here…and would they be welcome? Credit: sscornelius.) Such is how a high-ranking executive (choosing to remain anonymous) at one of Chicago’s most prominent greening organizations labeled the ongoing citywide ar…

  5. I am absolutely furious at the Mayor for basically calling me a racist because I don’t want any more buildings in places they don’t belong. The Art Institute shouldn’t be there and this thing shouldn’t go in either. Just because Ritchie wants to put his damn casino on Northerly Island doesn’t mean he get to mess up Chicago’s front yard.

    I don’t live anywhere near Grant Park, but that part of the park is a quiet oasis downtown that we (not just nearby residents) need.

    BTW, Milly Park is not built on Grant Park land. It’s built over what used to be an open air rail yard.

    And one other thing–in the Navy Pier museum, you are forced to walk through the gift shop full of overpriced geegaws to get into and leave the museum proper. I don’t see that changing.

  6. I’m afraid the charge of racism is starting to smell of red herring to me. How about debating the actual issue? What are they trying to hide with the race card? Something is suspicious about this. I can’t exactly put my finger on it yet.

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