Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Sun-Times blog.

Got a press release came today: Donald J. Trump to kick off demolition of Chicago Sun-Times Building.

“On Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004, Donald J. Trump will host a press conference to announce the start of demolition for the Chicago Sun-Times Building. The Sun-Times site is the future home of Trump International Hotel & Tower, a luxurious 90-story building with more than 600 residential and hotel condominiums.

“Afterwards, Mr. Trump will signal a demolition vehicle to raze a portion of the exterior…”

I wonder if any astrologers or auguries have been consulted to determine the most auspicious time for this work to begin, and what sort of animal sacrifice is called for. Still, it’s about time someone got rid of that eyesore on the Chicago River. About two weeks ago, the staff of the newspaper decamped to offices in a nearby building, so now an empty modernist box awaits its doom at the signal of the number-one publicity hound in the real estate industry. Trump has found enough rich suckers -- I mean, upscale buyers who demand only the best -– to procure a construction loan. No mean feat, that, so I’ll give the Donald his due.

The AIA Guide to Chicago devotes only five lines to the old structure: “1957, Naess & Murphy. An undistinguished building has elevations enlivened by views of the pressroom in action and by one of the city’s earliest riverfront plazas.”

Indeed, besides that small plaza, the only redeeming feature of the Sun-Times building was the long hallway on the first floor that passed by a row of large windows, from which you could see the newspaper’s printing presses in operation in the basement. Big iron giants connected by rushing streams of papers on conveyor belts, just like you might see in a noir movie as the backdrop of a succession of screaming headlines: PHANTOM KILLER STRIKES AGAIN! MAYOR WARNS AGAINST PANIC!

Those presses shut down around 2000, I think, replaced by more modern machines elsewhere. In the late ’90s, my office was closer to the Sun-Times building than it is now, and occasionally I would walk through and take a look at the presses in motion. You could just walk in. Through the front door, take a left at the front desk, enter the hall, walk its length, exit at the other end of the building. Or vice versa. I think that after September 11, 2001, it was no longer possible even to walk down the hall and see the idle presses. I’m glad I caught the tail end of it.


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