Evanston lost a piece of city history this weekend.
But chances are unless you tried to take the El, you probably didn’t notice. It seems even historic preservationists missed the demolition of the 95-year-old Main Street viaduct.
I’m not saying the concrete bridge should have been preserved. Like much of the El it was old and crappy. My question is: What happened to all those hunks of concrete?
My advice? Sell them.
Think about it. After all, look at how much money German tourist shops made in the ’90s doing exactly that. Sure they called them “pieces of the Berlin Wall.” But the Main Street viaduct was much older. The Berlin Wall wasn’t built until the 1960s. Sure, the viaduct isn’t exactly a world-famous symbol of the capitalist-communist divide, but the El is famous in its own right.
Besides, pieces of our decrepit transportation system are going to be a hot commodity when Chicago Transit Authority eventually folds from financial mismanagement.
The city would finally have a solution to Evanston’s budget woes that doesn’t involve raising taxes. And it’s better than pretending Northwestern is actually going to pay property taxes someday.
And what a great way to make room for that “most liveable city” being planned!
Why stop at the El? Apparently this city is filled with historic buildings on verge of destruction. The city could make a killing.
Think of it as a live version of Evanstonopoly.
Let’s start with the Civic Center. Hell, the city wouldn’t even have to wait until the government center is demolished to start cashing in. Just go pick up the roof tiles sliding off the top of the building, and set up shop. I mean, who wants a lame postcard of the Civic Center when you can own an actual piece of the Civic Center? And why should one property owner get to own all of such a historic landmark anyway?
It’s time to share the wealth.
It could be a citywide program. All it needs is a snappy name/acronym. Possible suggestions: Historical Element Liberty Project (HELP) or Evanston Piece Project.
It could even go global. Just put the pieces up for auction on eBay along with that heavily mocked sculpture, “Penelope.”
Granted, it wouldn’t work for every landmark. The city might have trouble convincing people Dutch-Elm-Disease-ridden wood was a good investment. The possibilities are almost endless.
The city could even extend the program to new buildings. For example, who wouldn’t want a piece of Evanston’s most infamous construction project, Sherman Plaza?
In fact, I think we’ve already lost out on that one. Just think about how much money the city could have made when pieces of the Sherman Garage started falling and almost hitting people.
And if the city staff had sold off pieces of that former NU landmark Osco Liquor, I think they would have had students lining up like they were buying Kanye West tickets. After all, the student line stretched to the back of the store when Osco was selling off the pieces inside of the store.
Just a few blocks north of the Main Street viaduct pieces of Sherman Plaza were just piled along the side of the road screaming to be sold. Naturally, anyone who got hit with the flying debris would get a discount.
For once, the answer to Evanston’s budget woes really is blowing in the wind.
City Editor Breanne Gilpatrick is a Medill senior. She can be reached at [email protected]