1. You write posts about why you don’t follow people on social media.
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It is becoming a constant; something happens somewhere else in the world, and we immediately contrast it with a Chicago occurrence. I’ve written about it before, and I’m writing about it again. Because I find it tiresome.
John Stewart rails against Chicago-style pizza, and we lose our minds, as if he’s given the proclamation that all society must use “Willis Tower” exclusively when describing that really tall building that no longer has a Sears Tower sign on it.
LeBron James can’t tie his shoes without a Bulls fan letting him know Michael Jordan tied his faster, tighter, and in a prettier knot.
Last night, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers threw a no-hitter, and I see Chicagoans compare it to Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game. Why? Can’t we let a great performance be a great performance without trying to prove one of our own may have done it better? Next thing you know, every time someone puts a sign on a building, we’ll be bragging about how Trump International Chicago did it better.
Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch… But you get the point.
These posts have jumped the shark.
By now, you’re as tired of hearing about the Chicago Trump Sign Crisis as I am of writing about it. I was gonna make this third (and final) post all about the current signage along the Magnificent Mile. I was gonna show photos of the huge Drake Hotel sign that screams at you as you head south on Lake Shore Drive. But of course, as all Seinfeld fans know, everyone loves the Drake, so there was no point in drumming up rage for that. But I also had photos ready of the Allerton, the Marriott, and Hilton Hotels that hover over Chicago’s sacred shopping area. And can you walk north on Michigan Avenue from the river without noticing the large Chicago Tribune lettering on their building at 435? But what’s the point. It’s all been done. And re-done. And overdone.
** Ok, I changed my mind. Here’s a picture of hotel signage. Too high to be noticed when you’re focused on shopping, but certainly a part of the skyline. **
Look, I preferred the building before the lettering was added too. But stop with the hyperbole. It isn’t in “very poor taste” like our Mayor said. (That doesn’t even make sense, Rahm.) It’s not “ghastly” like our film critic said. I certainly don’t see how anyone could find if “offensive” like a newspaper reader said. It’s lettering on a building that spells out a Brand name. When Mr. Trump tries to add DONALD in front of the TRUMP sign, I’ll be out there protesting with every ounce of energy I have left. Because that won’t be overreacting. But this, what we’re doing now? This is overreacting.
This entire exercise has been my attempt to point out that you hate the TRUMP sign because you hate Donald Trump. NOT because his sign ruins the skyline. Not because we “don’t have signs like that in the Midwest.” Because you hate that man. And that’s understandable. He’s arrogant. An egomaniac who seems light years removed from the common man. So just say that’s the reason.
And it’s getting no easier to be unbiased about this mess. Tweets from The Donald’s Twitter account (I, for one, am not convinced that’s actually him) continue to brag about how much everyone loves the new sign, while retweeting folks who I personally wouldn’t want to acknowledge were on my side in any situation. In a post yesterday, I pointed out how a Trump rep called a Chicago tour company to complain about a comment made from a passing boat. I have no explanation for why anyone at Trump would expect us all to love what is an obvious attention-grab on their part. Not to mention why they feel they have a right to silence public discussion of it.
Yeah, I dislike that organization more with each passing day. But I don’t mind the sign so much. Of course, I also think Chicagoans should be allowed to ask for ketchup, and say “Willis Tower.” So what do I know.
Let’s rally around this beauty, Chicago. She remains the most wonderful building in the world.
Consider this an emergency update to my Chicago Trump Sign Crisis posts.
The point of my posts has not been that you should love the new signage. But rather, and specifically, that complaining about its effect on the Chicago skyline is unmerited, as the sign isn’t anywhere near the top of the building, and therefore hidden from skyline views. There are plenty of valid reasons to dislike it, whether you simply aren’t a fan of Donald Trump and/or his brand, the look of the sign, or how it changes the scenery at the river.
And here now, I present another very good reason for you to hate it.
I have it on good authority that earlier this week, a passing tour guide with one of the Chicago boat tour companies made a snarky comment about the Trump sign as they passed by the tower. I don’t know what exactly was said, but suffice it to say, the guide is not a fan. The comment was amplified enough by the ship’s PA system that a Trump employee along the river heard it, reported it to superiors, and a Trump representative contacted the tour company to complain. As a result, the tour guide was officially written up, and all other guides were notified that no negative or disparaging comments were to be made aboard their craft in the future.
I’ll let you decide on your own what this says about the organization there along the river. My opinion would only cloud your judgement, and you’ve done enough just by reading this far.
– I see now the Mayor’s office is fighting this sign. Is that why the signage was approved in the first place? So Rahm could swoop in, have it removed, and be the hero just in time for re-election? Stay tuned.
In Part 1 of hating the Trump sign, we saw precedent for building signage along the Michigan Avenue skyline at the south end of Grant Park. Let’s continue our tour around Grant and Millennium parks, shall we?
Our next photo shows One Prudential Plaza, a 600-ft-high office building on Randolph Street. Now, it’s bad enough that Prudential has posted their name 41 stories in the air, figuring prominently in the skyline. But notice what else they’ve done? Let’s say I’m taking a casual walk across Randolph, perhaps to get a nice breakfast at Wildberry, when BOOM. Prudential had the audacity to etch their logo into the side of the building! What? Who gave that the ok? Do they expect me to walk into their store and buy insurance instead of breakfast? Oh. It’s not a store. Ok, never mind. I guess it’s just good corporate branding. Still, a sign and a logo seems a bit much to me. And they’re not even a hotel!
Moving east, we find The Blue Cross Blue Shield tower at 300 East Randolph. In 2010, this building expanded upward to top out at 57 stories. This is by far the most subtle of the markings I’ve pointed out, but it’s still very visible on the skyline, and therefore an effective act to create brand awareness on BCBS’s part. You notice it, you recognize it, but it’s simply too subliminal to offend anyone’s tastes. And, the logos also seem to fade away when the building is lit up for the Chicago sports teams.
Before we leave Grant Park, let’s take a look at one more photo. This is The Legacy at Millennium Park. It’s a new arrival on the Chicago skyline. This residential tower with no signage, no logos, no antennae. It has no relevance to this issue, thereby making its inclusion in this post totally unnecessary. But it’s an awesome tower, especially in the sunlight, I love it, and this is my blog.
All right, we’ve covered the skyline looking from the south ad nauseam. Now, I’d like to take a look at the Trump Tower neighborhood, another area people say the TRUMP sign has devastated the view. I want to start directly across the Chicago River, with two signs I find hideous.
That Morton’s sign extends about 15 floors. Even the Hotel Monaco is grateful it’s there, just to take some of the attention away from their 5-floor self-promotion. These are not gentle hints at where visitors should dine and stay. These are grab-you-by-the-lapels eyesores that no one seems to mind. Of course, to be fair, the steaks are really good.
Finally, also on the south side of the river, are these to two signs, one for the Hotel 71, now known as the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront Hotel, and one for the Kemper headquarters. A hotel and a brand. That sounds familiar. There’s a story here from Crain’s from July 2013 that the Kemper building may be sold, so it’s quite possible that sign will come down or be replaced with the new owner’s brand. According to Crain’s, this would be the first change of ownership at 1 East Wacker. I can find no indication of when a sign was first added to the top. Does it make a difference? Sure, it could. If someone erects a structure, then adds their name to it years after completion, once everyone has grown accustomed to seeing the it without signage, that could certainly ruffle some feathers. I think this may be what upsets some about the Trump situation, and I believe it’s a valid point. Any signage included in the original construction feels like a more natural addition, and takes less “getting used to.”
I’d like to address one more area of Chicago, the Magnificent Mile, in the next post. In the meantime, feel free to continue a respectful dialogue in the comments section. See you again soon.
For a different opinion on the Chicago Trump Sign Crisis, please read this post from Matthew Carbone.
Chicago has its share of controversy. From gang shootings to teachers’ unions to losing sports teams. Over the last few weeks, a new storm has been brewing, and this one is far more venomous than its situation warrants.
Donald Trump, that guy from New York City, the one with the television show who fired people, has put his name — literally — on the hotel tower he completed in 2009. And Chicagoans are losing their minds. Which I don’t have a problem with, per se, except they won’t admit what really upsets them. It’s not the T, the R, the U, M, or P. It’s the Donald. The man himself, not his sign.
This city, with its amazing architecture, is chock full of big letters on tall buildings. Yet until this one, I’ve never heard a word uttered about any of them. Why? Because people hate Donald Trump. I’m no fan of his either, but it aggravates me to hear some of the mud being slung by those who can’t be fair about their feelings for him. And the complaint I’m hearing most is how the new lettering ruins the Chicago skyline. Really? Ok, let’s take a look at that.
Here’s a picture of Trump Tower taken on June 10. Obviously, the first four letters are in place, and we’re waiting for the P to be added. The truck in front, while getting in the way of my picture, gives you some scale as to the size of the font used. Yeah, they’re big letters. They’re two stories high, but they’ve been placed about one-quarter of the way up the side of the tower. Guess what, folks? That’s not part of the skyline. Not even close. It is surely part of the view in River North now. You won’t be able to miss it when you’re on Wacker Drive. But it isn’t in any way detracting from what any reasonable person would deem the skyline. So we can stop saying that. Now.
The photo at the top of this page, if it had come out better, shows what I consider to be the quintessential Chicago skyline view. Starting at the south end of Grant Park, sweeping north up Michigan Avenue, and wrapping around Millennium Park along Randolph Street. If my iPhone had caught a better shot, you’d see several examples of signage along Michigan Ave. Though hard to discern, the Trump Tower stands tall toward the right-hand side of the picture. But what you won’t see, no matter how close you zoom in from this vantage point, is the Trump sign on the side. Why? Because they aren’t high enough to be part of the skyline.
We’ll start working our way northward starting with the photo on the right, showing signage above the Harrison Hotel and Essex Inn. As you may have noticed elsewhere, hotels seem to have a history of putting large signs on their buildings. And remember, Trump Tower is a hotel, as well as a residence. The next photo includes the sign on another hotel, the Congress, and one atop the BorgWarner Building at 200 South Michigan. A small investigation shows this has nothing to do with a Swedish tennis player from the 70s and Theo from The Cosby Show, but rather a company involved in engines and powertrains. But enough about that. What we have is yet another prominent hotel sign, as well as a brand name, appearing along the top of the skyline.
Hmm. Hotels and brand names. Once again, I’ll point out that Trump is a hotel, as well as a very successful brand. Two things that seem commonplace on urban signage. Nothing about this should be a surprise to us. No surprises, no controversy, right? Except no one hates Mr. Borg, of course.
Moving on, we come to one of my favorite new buildings in Chicago, the tower at Roosevelt University. And how can one easily know this is part of Roo U.? (my name, not theirs) Because they chose to add their name at the very top of the south facing, thereby making it clearly visible to anyone, say, cruising up Lake Shore Drive, or walking through the South Loop. And its blue, Lego-like appearance contrasts sharply against the backdrop of its neighbor to the north, the bright red CNA Tower. While I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the unimaginatively rectangular CNA building, it does add a nice splash of color to the skyline. But as with the Roosevelt building, the CNA marking at the top is equally as striking on the skyline as the red it adds. But no one seems to rail against either of these two structures marring the wonderful Chicago skyline.
So far, I’ve highlighted just six buildings in the city of Chicago that aren’t at all shy about displaying their name and brand. In my next post, we’ll continue moving north on Michigan Avenue to see what else stands out in the uppermost regions of town. Please, do come back.