Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Chicago Needs Another Green River

Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway

Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway

"Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet ..." - Agent Smith THE MATRIX

Some years ago I started this blog with a proposal to make a high place for Chicago. Not a high place for religion or height. Although it could be. Not a high place of government. Although government would have to be a player. Not a high place of business. But who would pay for it? Lincoln Park, Grant Park, and so on would not exist if it were not for the philanthropy of Chicago's big business Olympia. Not a high place, or state, of being. This is not enlightenment. On the contrary, this can be a very real place for the City and for the non-City. Chicagoan and non-Chicagoan. Human and non-Human. It is for the better.

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not be realized" - Daniel Burnham

The idea of burying our highways is not new. Boston did it with its Big Dig, realizing a plan a quarter century in the making. Chicago has done it with Millennium Park, an expensive but priceless gift to the City. This proposal follows in the footsteps of these two great plans. It is not a little plan. It is a big plan that places a green roof over the entire interstate highway system of Chicago. These roofs will become a natural habitat. It's tendrils will connect all of Chicago's natural preserves creating a green network where there were six lanes or more of asphalt. The plan is a great grandchild of Burnham's boulevard system. Here, instead of a green that is Parisian manicured splendour, prairie grasses will be allowed to grow free. The roof will be designed with an exhaust filtering system that is more catalytic than mechanical. Cars will be put in their place. Thereby, creating a Green-network where forest preserves bordering the City and the Lake are interconnected.  Flora and fauna can once again migrate throughout the whole of Chicagoland. And Chicago will have a new Green River.

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