Thursday, June 21, 2012

State and Rush – More than a State of Mind

Chicago Steaks - The Best
As an urbanist and someone who loves great street scenes and activity my vote for the best in America is the triangle formed by Rush and State Street and East Bellevue Place in Chicago. This historic Chicago district has been famous for almost a hundred years. Everything revolves Mariano Park. During the week it’s a great place to lounge, read, and watch people. At night it is the center of some of the greatest foot traffic in Chicago and now you know why it’s been recently tagged the Viagra triangle. It’s what you get when you mix older rich men and younger women – don’t blame me I didn’t name it. But thinking back, its true - as the clip to the back of my head from my wife proved.
Mariano Park
Rush Street is named after Benjamin Rush a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mariano Park was named after Louis Mariano in 1970.
From the Chicago Park District information page:
In 1970, the park district renamed (the park) yet again, this time in honor of another local resident, Louis Mariano (1906-1970). Mariano was a reporter and editor for the Chicago Daily News, and also served as associate editor of the World Book Science Year Book. He organized the annual science fair at nearby Ogden School, the library of which also bears his name. For years Mariano spent his evenings at a restaurant across from the park, holding court and seeking out stories for his North Loop News column. In addition to trees and benches, Mariano Park contains a small fountain and a Prairie-style pavilion designed by Birch Burdette Long in 1900.

Mr. Kellys - Circa 1960s
Rush Street is famous for its night clubs and restaurants as well as jazz and music. As a kid I think I had my first illegal drink in a club called Mr. Kelly’s (1957-1975). Sara Vaughan and Her Trio used the spot for one of her album’s cover art. It’s now Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse and is the place to meet in Chicago. They pour a decent drink for the price $$$ and the food is just damn good. Everyone wants to eat on the street, most of the seven or eight restaurants that front Rush offer tables on the sidewalk – lots of tables. Well dress people and expensive cars are thick and everywhere, every night we were there a convertible Bentley parked next to the park with its flashers on. One of the local beat cops (who by the way are just too cool) told me that it’s a loaner for the guy; his other car, a Bugatti Veyron 16.4, is on loan for a photo shoot. So Chicago Northside.

Carmines is a part of the Rosebud Italian group of restaurants and Tavern on Rush has the classiest sports bar on the street. An Irish pub – Dublin Bar and Grill, the chain restaurant Morton’s Steakhouse, Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, Whiskey Bar and Grill, Luxor Bar, and my favorite breakfast joint, The Original Pancake House, almost round out the fare. But within blocks there more, lots more.

What makes a great street? Often it is not the paving or the street furniture, but it’s the shops, stores, and restaurants. It’s the attraction of the venues and the people (Viagra not withstanding). For my part I get tired of an overdesigned streetscape full of fancy and expensive benches and trash bins. Streetlights that go for thousands of dollars and high tech traffic signals don’t necessarily add to the mix. They just make it more expensive. It is the people and the neighborhoods and the bars and the food. And yes a Bugatti Veyron parked at the curb does brighten the scene.

At $1M+ it ought to look good!
Stay Tuned . . . .

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