If you’re in Chicago…

You have two three reasons to rejoice: 1) The opening of Millennium Park . The family and I checked it out today, and a good time was had by all. This opening weekend includes a lot of parades, musical performances, and other activities. The nominal architectural highlight is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
590497_306015081_bean2.jpg
590497_306015081_bean2.jpg

You have two three reasons to rejoice:
1) The opening of Millennium Park
. The family and I checked it out today, and a good time was had by all. This opening weekend includes a lot of parades, musical performances, and other activities. The nominal architectural highlight is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed by Frank Gehry and evokes his Guggenheim Museum in Bilao. For me, however, Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate is the real treat -- a mirrored sculpture that beautifully reflects the Chicago skyline. Here's a picture, but it doesn't do Kapoor's vision justice:

[UPDATE -- , href="http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/bean2.html">here's a better photo:] Here's a link to Millennium park's official website, and here's a link to the Chicago Tribune's special webpage devoted to the park. 2) For South-Siders, any injection of retail is a welcome development -- compared to the North Side and the suburbs, this region (which includes Hyde Park) is a veritable desert of commerce. So, even small steps by big-name brands are welcomed. Dan Mihalopoulos and Antonio Olivo report in the Chicago Tribune on the South Shore neighborhood's brand new coffee shop:

Starbucks, an icon for everything from gentrification to Seattle chic to corporate dominance, means something simpler to 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston. "You are officially a neighborhood when you get a Starbucks," said Hairston, who fought to bring one to South Shore even as residents of affluent neighborhoods bemoaned the spread of the chain coffeehouses. Finally on Friday, a Starbucks will open on the corner of 71st Street and Stony Island Avenue, the only shop of its kind in Chicago south of Hyde Park. The familiar green awnings of Starbucks are another sign of hope on the South Side, where home values are rising. Many neighbors see the shop as a mark of newfound respect for black buying power and a harbinger for more new stores. Hairston, for one, dreams of a Target, a Best Buy and maybe a Kinko's. But it has taken four years, the alderman's intervention and civic-minded basketball star Magic Johnson just to open one brand-name coffeehouse. And in a part of the city where most basic shopping is still a long car or bus ride away, neighborhood advocates recognize that they still have a long road from that first grande latte to a thriving local economy.... Scott Gendell and Zeb Mclaurin, the Chicago-based developers of the new Starbucks site, said retail chains should realize that the South Side is fertile ground for selling electronics, linens and other goods that residents say they customarily buy as far away as Orland Park or northwest Indiana. The corridor along Stony Island is ripe for a change similar to the retail boom along Clybourn Avenue during the last decade, they said. "It takes time to sell people who don't understand this market, but their ability to make money here is so obvious," Gendell said. (emphasis added)

You have two three reasons to rejoice:
1) The opening of Millennium Park
. The family and I checked it out today, and a good time was had by all. This opening weekend includes a lot of parades, musical performances, and other activities. The nominal architectural highlight is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which was designed by Frank Gehry and evokes his Guggenheim Museum in Bilao. For me, however, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate is the real treat — a mirrored sculpture that beautifully reflects the Chicago skyline. Here’s a picture, but it doesn’t do Kapoor’s vision justice:

bean.jpg

bean.jpg

[UPDATE — , href=”http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/bean2.html”>here’s a better photo:] Here’s a link to Millennium park’s official website, and here’s a link to the Chicago Tribune‘s special webpage devoted to the park. 2) For South-Siders, any injection of retail is a welcome development — compared to the North Side and the suburbs, this region (which includes Hyde Park) is a veritable desert of commerce. So, even small steps by big-name brands are welcomed. Dan Mihalopoulos and Antonio Olivo report in the Chicago Tribune on the South Shore neighborhood’s brand new coffee shop:

Starbucks, an icon for everything from gentrification to Seattle chic to corporate dominance, means something simpler to 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston. “You are officially a neighborhood when you get a Starbucks,” said Hairston, who fought to bring one to South Shore even as residents of affluent neighborhoods bemoaned the spread of the chain coffeehouses. Finally on Friday, a Starbucks will open on the corner of 71st Street and Stony Island Avenue, the only shop of its kind in Chicago south of Hyde Park. The familiar green awnings of Starbucks are another sign of hope on the South Side, where home values are rising. Many neighbors see the shop as a mark of newfound respect for black buying power and a harbinger for more new stores. Hairston, for one, dreams of a Target, a Best Buy and maybe a Kinko’s. But it has taken four years, the alderman’s intervention and civic-minded basketball star Magic Johnson just to open one brand-name coffeehouse. And in a part of the city where most basic shopping is still a long car or bus ride away, neighborhood advocates recognize that they still have a long road from that first grande latte to a thriving local economy…. Scott Gendell and Zeb Mclaurin, the Chicago-based developers of the new Starbucks site, said retail chains should realize that the South Side is fertile ground for selling electronics, linens and other goods that residents say they customarily buy as far away as Orland Park or northwest Indiana. The corridor along Stony Island is ripe for a change similar to the retail boom along Clybourn Avenue during the last decade, they said. “It takes time to sell people who don’t understand this market, but their ability to make money here is so obvious,” Gendell said. (emphasis added)

Hey, if there is anyone at Trader Joe’s who reads this blog, go back and re-read that bolded section — the place could use a decent high-end grocery store as well. 3) H. Gregory Meyer and Darnell Little report in the Sunday Chicago Tribune that the entire state (including Chicago) is much safer than it used to be:

Illinois’ crime rate took another big drop in 2003, bringing the numbers close to what they were before crime took off in the 1970s. The sweeping drop in 2003, twice as large as the previous year, was seen in Chicago, most suburbs and smaller cities across the state, according to new Illinois State Police data. Only the most sparsely settled counties saw a general increase, as violent crime rose there for the third straight year, according to data to be released Sunday. Statewide, total serious crimes reported to police fell for the ninth year in a row to 497,693, which translates to a crime rate not seen since 1972–when Richard Nixon was in the White House and a different Daley ran Chicago City Hall. Crime in Illinois took a sharp upturn in the early 1970s, climbing throughout the decade. The situation worsened in the 1980s as the crack cocaine epidemic plagued many urban areas. Crime in the state eventually peaked in 1991. But for the last decade, crime rates have rolled progressively downward. The 2003 report shows declines in all eight offenses making up the state’s index of major crimes: murder, sexual assault, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson. Reports of sexual assault, after unexpectedly jumping in 2002, dived below the average of the last five years.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is the co-director of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Twitter: @dandrezner

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