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Why Is Streetsblog So Bitchy?

You can’t get people on your side when you’re constantly chasing them away. So why does Streetsblog spend so much time telling people they suck?

Why Chicago Has No Jane Jacobs

On Sunday, Ai Weiwei said people who live censored lives in China eventually become complicit in their own subjugation. Little did he know he was talking about Chicago, too.

Taking Urban Planning Out of Storage

Last month I bemoaned Chicago’s future. Now, for the first time in 11 years, I work in urban planning again. And I just held Chicago history in my hands.

Looking for Madison

Ever use a GPS-enabled Android phone to circumnavigate both of Madison, Wisconsin’s major lakes searching for public lakefront access? We did. Mostly in vain.

Hello “Nature Boardwalk,” So Long South Pond Swan Boats

The Lincoln Park Zoo has rehabbed the park’s South Pond into a spiffy new Nature Boardwalk. But now that the pond’s former shabbiness is gone, so are the paddle boats that plied its waters for more then a century. It’s a piece of the rehab project zoo planners haven’t mentioned much in the past two years.

Transformer Ire

This summer, downtown Chicago has been handed over to the Transformers 3 movie shoot–to film scenes glorifying Loop devastation and the the deaths of rank-and-file Chicagoans. As citywide media goes ga-ga for gargantuan robots, I’m wondering whether $20 million is the going rate for ceding civic pride?

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad ‘Burbs?

One of the things I shouted loudest when I first began Chicago Carless four-and-a-half years ago no longer applies. Back in mid-2005, I still carried around my New-York-native anti-surburban bias. On recent reflection, it’s time to let the suburbs have their due. At least in Chicago.

Silence Isn’t Golden for the W***** Tower

There are bad branding strategies. There are Macy’s-mothballs-Marshall-Field awful branding strategies. And then there’s Willis Group’s hubris- and hare-brained idea to rename the Sears Tower. What do you get when you glue a new name on an old icon whose existing monicker has worldwide recognition? Judging by local blog discussion, a good laugh–and lots of people who say they just won’t bother to say the word W*****.

Urbanophile Blog Blasts Nichols Bridgeway

In May, I threw down the charge for local bloggers to set aside starchitect fandom in their reviews of Renzo Piano’s new Art Institute of Chicago Modern Wing. This week, Aaron Renn, author of the widely noted urban-analysis blog, The Urbanophile, took up the challenge. A fan of the Modern Wing’s exterior, in an epic post, Renn considers the elevated Nichols Bridgeway and Monroe streetscape, below, in the same copious detail for which his blog has become known in national planning circles. And much like the mood of one local critic after reading my original post, Renn does not come away happy.

Relatively Speaking Downtown

People say the strangest things to me in downtown Chicago. This past weekend was a trifecta. Sunday afternoon I ran into Marina City’s own Vincent Falk, aka the colorful, tour-boat-waving Riverace (rhymes with Liberace), standing together with Marina City Online scribe Steve Dahlman mid-span on the State Street Bridge.