« A Cool Five Thousand (or $10,283 based on current exchange rates) | Main | Happy Birthday, Mr. Trillin »

Lake Shore Athletic Club is saved!

I was quite pleased yesterday to read of this news item: the venerable Lake Shore Athletic Club appears to have been saved. As I've mentioned previously, the classic building had been in grave danger of being demolished by a high-powered local developer in favor of a new condo tower. But the developer backed off, apparently from the very public opposition of new ward alderman Brendan Reilly, and the building is now being sold to a preservation-friendly developer who plans to convert the building to high-end senior housing.

I can't begin to describe how satisfying this resolution is. Had the prevailing opposition to the building's demolition come from the city or the alderman's office, the resolution wouldn't have meant nearly as much. But the developer-friendly Mayor Daley wasn't about to interfere, and even the alderman stuck a neutral stance at first, only gradually coming around to the side of preservation. Instead, this victory came from the little people - grassroots activists and neighborhood residents - who opposed demolition from the very start, rallying public opinion and bringing the alderman into the fold. These are the very same little people who are so often marginalized and ignored in our increasingly undemocratic society. For once, everyday citizens win a victory which, while minor in the grand scheme of things, is heavy with symbolic significance. We the people can make things happen, if we band together for the common good, make our position known and never back down from the ensuring fight.

December 4, 2007 in Chicago Observations | Permalink