Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City has always been a fixture of my perception of downtown Chicago. As a child I attended a broadcast of the local children’s television program, BJ and Dirty Dragon from the Marina City TV studios (now the House of Blues), saw Steve McQueen chase the bad guys through the parking garage until they crashed through the railing and plunged into the Chicago River in the TV trailers for The Hunter, not to mention all the times that I saw the towers in person, always from the outside (although I did look with interest at rental listings when I was apartment hunting in Chicago in the late ’90s).
I knew bits and drabs of the history of the towers, mostly from Blair Kamin’s writings for the Chicago Tribune along with books about Chicago real estate and development by Ross Miller, Richard Cahan and Lois Wille that I read back about the same time that I was apartment hunting. But this book put it all together into a single narrative, explaining how union money met with Goldberg’s utopian socialist ideals to build this unique complex (Goldberg’s even more ambitious River City exists as only a small fraction of the originally planned complex.) Between having only vague memories of 20+-year old reading and not knowing details at all, I was left with a fascinating account of the development and life of some of Chicago’s most iconic architecture.
I had for a while believed that I was born in Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center at Northwestern Hospital, but in researching this post, I learned that it was built after I was born so my birth took place in a different Northwestern Hospital building. So much for my connection to Goldberg reaching back to my birth.