Monday, September 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

There's not going to be a Mayor Daley in Chicago.  My favorite city in the USofA has seen the last of the Daley dynasty, unless there's another generation waiting in the wings.  For the time being, the Democrats are all in a dither and the Republicans are absent and I am living in Tucson.  Tucson, where the streetcar project which was to be the centerpiece of a massive revitalization of downtown failed to receive further Department of Transportation funding and is now, once again, teetering on the brink of financial uncertainty.  Relying on soft money is never a great idea - soft money being the catchphrase for grants and pork and other funds which arrive after much begging and pleading.

The notion that if private business doesn't want to invest in it then maybe it's not worth doing never comes up.  I'm not talking about schools or public safety, the things which are the responsibility of the civic authorities.  I'm talking about a fun-to-ride-on modern streetcar between the University campus and the bars and restaurants downtown.  This is not public transportation as Chicago and New York know it - a reliable means to get from point A to point B with efficiency and a minimal cash outlay.  This is another gimmick designed to spice up an area that is still recovering from a 1960's urban renewal that wiped out neighborhoods and sent businesses scurrying north.  I'm not sure that carnival rides are the best solution to its woes.

Long time residents tell me that downtown once was an elegant destination.  Would that that were the case today.

My youngest niece is in Santiago, Chile, studying Spanish and seeing the sites.  Her Facebook album is an interesting blend of rooftops and park benches and then there is Londres Street. 

Beautiful old buildings and luscious trees and the site of Londres 38.  General Pinochet tortured and held captive more than 1000 Chilean citizens in the building behind the smaller tree.

According to my traveling relative, the government thought that by changing the name to Londres 40 no one would figure it out.

That didn't work out too well for them, it seems.  The building is now a museum, which was open to the public for Dia de Patrinomia, a part of Chile's bicentennial celebration.  I was remembering Mature Landscaping's discussion of the Low Country mansions, built and maintained by slave labor.  Sobrina's photo of this inscription inside Londres 38/40 says it all
How do you fill this void so full of imprisoned memories?
Human history is full of examples of cruelty, no matter how far we travel.

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