Tagged with blair kamin

Dewey Decimal Project: 720.483 MAR Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg’s Urban Vision

Bertrand Goldberg’s Picture of Marina CityMarina 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.

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It looks like the Nelson Algren Literary Prize is endangered

The first clue was when my submission to the 2020 version of the contest disappeared from Tribune Tower Chicago Illinois 9181667444 cropped ubmittable without notice. The administrators of the prize tend to be not so great about closing out submissions on Submittable, so I didn’t pay much attention to it (in past years I’d had some marked “completed” a few “decline” and some were just left hanging until I marked then “withdrawn”).

It wasn’t until the end of the year that it occurred to me that my Google news alert on “nelson algren literary prize” had never come up with an announcement of the winner. Digging a bit deeper and I found this:

The Nelson Algren Literary Award contest has been suspended for 2020-21 as we review the program.

Coming at the same time as buyouts in the Chicago Tribune newsroom with architecture critic Blair Kamin and music critic Howard Reich being two of the latest high-profile departures.

There seems to be an overall gutting of the newspaper by the current owners. Starting with the selling of the storied Tribune Tower and continual cuts. The death of the Algren Prize, assuming that this warning sign is indeed a herald of such a thing, is a relatively minor thing in the grand scheme of the despoliation of a once-great newspaper, but it marks the end of one of the richest short story prizes in the United States and a launching pad for a number of great writers. 

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