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Lois Wille’s illustrated account provides behind-the-scenes insight into how a small number of Chicago business leaders transformed the dangerous and seedy South Loop into an integrated and thriving community in the heart of the central city.The obstacles to the evolution of Dearborn Park were quite formidable, including a succession of six mayors, huge...
Lois Wille’s illustrated account provides behind-the-scenes insight into how a small number of Chicago business leaders transformed the dangerous and seedy South Loop into an integrated and thriving community in the heart of the central city.The obstacles to the evolution of Dearborn Park were quite formidable, including a succession of six mayors, huge economic impediments, policy disputes engendered among people used to making their own corporate decisions, the wretched reputation of the South Loop, problems with the Chicago public school system, and public mistrust of a project supported by the wealthy, no matter how altruistic the goal. It took twenty years and millions of dollars, but it will pay off and in fact is paying off right now.With Dearborn Park, Chicago left a formula that other cities can use to turn fallow land into vibrant neighborhoodswithout big government subsidies. As Wille explains, the realization of this vision requires shared investment and shared risk on the part of local businesses, financial institutions, and government. It links private and public influence and capital. Wille explains how these elements worked together to build a neighborhood in a blighted tract of Chicago’s Loop. She also describes how key decisions affecting the public interest were made during a time of profound change in the city’s political life: Dearborn Park was conceived during the final years of the most powerful political machine in America and had to adapt as that machine crumbled and city government was reshaped
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