Archive for the ‘Taylor street’ Category


The piazzas of Chicago. Deep dish? lol

I often long for the public square. A place to stop, to have a coffee, to look at people, to soak up the sun, to collect my thoughts and in my respite, come up with new ones. Aren’t many places to do that in Chicago. Usually what we call a plaza has cars running on three sides of it and does not lend itself to contemplation. Millennium Park is nice because it’s raised up from the traffic. The plaza at the John Hancock is nice because it’s sunken down away from the traffic. It also has a raging water fountain to drown out the car sounds. I’ve liked it so much on a sunny day I affectionately call it, in Italian, “Piazza Giovanni” (Giovanni, as in John, as in Hancock.) When I tell my friends, “I’ll meet you at Piazza Giovanni,” by now they know where I mean.

I thought about the people-friendly places that cities need last night at the Joffrey Ballet, during “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare (who knew what of) rolls out his love story in a public square, in Verona, Italy. People dance in the streets and on bridges. Jesters toss colorful garlands, and swordfights occur in the square, with gardens behind and arches alongside. How charming! How nice to truly live one’s life in a community. Here’s the real Verona piazza

We need public squares in Chicago. Where we can safely dance in the streets!

They’re breaks in the bustle of the city, like these strategically-placed photos are breaks in the density of this text.

The other day I went to Taylor Street to see the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. And there, on a gorgeous Global Warming February Day, I stumbled across a real square to sit in.

And I don’t even have to give it a nickname. It’s called “Piazza DiMaggio.”



The most urban Skyspace by James Turrell, ever.

The skyspace by James Turrell at the very busy intersection of Roosevelt Road and Halsted Street in Chicago, near the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the College of Architecture and the Arts commissioned this. This is what you see looking up through it.

Here’s another view.

Just kidding, that’s the ceiling of a wine shop on Wells St.

The skyspace is supposed to heighten your perception of the sky, its colors and its meaning. Turrell is a fine artist, see this and this .

Ours, here in Chicago, on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago is not finished, so one can’t judge, but the first mistake to me, seems to be that our skyspace is not a peaceful place. Since it’s open to the busy streets around it

you hear all the noise. It has “that Pantheon thing” going for it — rounded, open at the top, a nice spot of light moves with the sun, but at the Pantheon you enter a world, a universe, since it’s self-contained. And the only way out is up – to where live the gods. I guess we’re more democratic than that so here you can also look out straight ahead, at life around you; and we have security concerns, so we couldn’t really close off all the walls. Oh well.

The structure itself – not pretty. The benches look (almost vintage UIC!)like this:

And, like the Pantheon in Roma, the skyspace at Roosevelt and Halsted (just doesn’t sound the same, does it? as, “the Pantheon in Roma”) our skyspace casts a moving spot of light, which looks like this

at one particular moment in time. Never again. That’s part of it. Since the opening is oval-shaped, unlike at the Pantheon where it’s a perfect circle, here the sun takes on a nice Jean Arp-like amorphous shape.

The structure, as you see above, does have that Italian thing going for it. As does a restaurant not far away, on Taylor Street!

Back to the Skyspace. It’s done in a Burnt Siena color. Actually it reminds me of

a little-known structure by Brunelleschi (who of course also designed the famous and stirring dome of Florence Cathedral) – the only picture of which I have, includes me in it! Sorry. See the Brunelleschi in the background?

And why is their piazza (and pizza) so much better than ours?
Because they’re Italian!
But tomorrow’s post will be about — Piazza DiMaggio
at least that’s what I call it – here in Chicago on Taylor Street.

‘Til then, “Cin, Cin!”