Book Boulevard

I recently spent a couple of beautiful spring days in Chicago with my family. Like typical tourists, we enjoyed an afternoon walking around Millennium Park ...
by | April 23, 2006

Chicago_library_west_englewood_branch_1 I recently spent a couple of beautiful spring days in Chicago with my family. Like typical tourists, we enjoyed an afternoon walking around Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue. Even my generally oblivious 11- and 16-year-old sons could appreciate the array of architectural styles that characterize the city's skyline. But the downtown skyscrapers weren't the only buildings that made an impression on them.

The day before, we had flown into Chicago's Midway Airport and headed east on 63rd Street. It's hardly the Magnificent Mile. Rather, this commercial strip is lined with gas stations, pawn shops, Latino markets, liquor stores, greasy-spoon restaurants, tattoo parlors, nail salons and...gleaming public libraries.

Chicago_library_west_englewood_branch_in I've written in Governing about the construction/renovation of dozens of branch libraries in Chicago neighborhoods. But, let's face it, my kids don't read the magazine. So I was pleasantly surprised when they commented (entirely unbidden) that we had passed three libraries--and signs pointing to several more--along this single stretch of road. We also drove by a new police station and a vacant lot where another was about to be built.

Everywhere we went, there was evidence of the massive investment in civic infrastructure made by the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley. Regardless of how his present political troubles play out, his long-term legacy is already set in concrete.

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