The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Things I'll be reading this afternoon

Some articles:

And now, Parker needs a walk.

It's a tremendous brand, fantastic. Everybody loves it.

Property values in Chicago's Trump Tower have declined as other similar properties have gotten pricier. Go figure:

"I've never seen such a glut" of condos for sale, said real estate agent Carla Walker of KoenigRubloff Berkshire Hathaway. "When people live where they've paid $1.5 million and up, they don't want to see people hanging out and demonstrating. And there's still a stigma there for some people."

The number for sale "is amazing," said Gail Lissner, vice president of Appraisal Research Counselors. "I've never seen that number for sale since they opened, and there have been very few transactions."

Only four units sold this year, and there was a decline in the number sold last year compared with the previous year, she said. There are about 52 residential units for sale now. With the addition of the hotel condos also on the market in the building, the number of units for sale jumps to about 70.

Based on the residential units alone, the number of available condos in Trump Tower is almost three times higher than other large condo buildings downtown, according to Lissner's data. No comparison is perfect, because the very high-end Elysian and Waldorf buildings are small with little turnover in units. But Lissner said that while Trump Tower has 52 of its 486 units on the market, the John Hancock building has 26 out of 703 for sale; Water Tower Place has 9 out of 260 for sale; Aqua has 12 out of 262 for sale; 340 on the Park has 11 out of 343; 600 N. Lake Shore Drive has 20 out of 395; and The Heritage has 5 out of 358.

Apparently the massive "TRUMP" logo on the southeast wall of the building is not what people in heavily-urban, heavily-Democratic Chicago want to pay extra for.

Stuff I'll read later

A little busy today, so I'm putting these down for later consumption:

Now, I must prepare...for Whisky Fest!

Not sure I agree, but I do love steaks

Bloomberg has released its list of the best steaks in Chicago for 2017. It leaves off my current favorite (Kinzie Chophouse) and my old favorite (Morton's on State, before they got bought out), but it's not a bad list:

If you had to name one quintessential steakhouse in Chicago, it would be Gibson’s, which serves expert, icy martinis at the bar and stellar beef from the grill. (It is the first steakhouse to be awarded its own USDA Prime Certification—USDA Gibsons Prime Angus Beef. Local hero chef Tony Mantuano is a fan. “Gibson’s is clearly a classic, the one that every steakhouse is compared with. The bone-in ribeye is my favorite cut, since it gives you different textural experiences. There are different types of muscle in this cut—the deckle, or rib cap, at Gibson’s is one of the most delicious bites of steak you'll ever eat.”

Situated in an old butcher shop, Boeufhaus looks more like a Brooklyn hangout than a classic Chicago steakhouse. For one thing, it’s compact, with only 34 seats; for another, it’s decorated with filament light fixtures. Also, the menu starters include fluke crudo with sea beans and Burgundy snails—no mac and cheese or seafood towers here. Chef Paul Berglund loved it all, in particular his steak. “Boeufhaus may not be the most traditional Chicago steakhouse, but I had an amazing celebratory meal there post James Beard Awards [he won Best Chef Midwest in 2016]. We ordered the 55-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye and 35-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye (market priced), served side by side on the table. This restaurant is doing great stuff with local, grass-fed beef. It’s a really cool place to eat meat.”

So for my next celebration, I'm going to try one of these places. I'm sure I'll find something to celebrate soon.

Documentary to see

Matt Tyranauer directs Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a documentary about my hero Jane Jacobs.

From CityLab:

Jane Jacobs moved to Toronto in 1968 after being arrested during her ultimately successful battle against Robert Moses and his plans for a Lower Manhattan Expressway. In her new city, where she stayed until her death in 2006, Jacobs fought off yet another planned expressway, consulted on occasional development projects, spoke out against amalgamation, and continued to write books.

But in 2017, the story of how she helped defeat the world’s most infamous urban planning villain still generates inspiration from old and new audiences in New York and afar. A new film by Matt Tyrnauer, Citizen Jane: Battle For The City, packages that story around the damage felt across so many American cities in the 20th century through urban renewal. But it also reminds viewers that today’s urbanizing world has no lack of bad ideas worth fighting against right now.

Citizen Jane doesn’t necessarily shed new light on the main characters or the plot, but it does serve as a concise and approachable lens into what Jacobs stood for. It also shows just how she was able to hand Moses a rare loss in a career that allowed him to easily bulldoze—literally and figuratively—through the five boroughs.

Tyrnauer’s documentary is popping up in select theaters across the country this spring.

It's on my list. But unfortunately not scheduled to open in Chicago this spring.

You know your industry is in trouble when...

The United Airlines debacle at O'Hare last week underscored how much people really hate airlines:

The severity of the situation really dawned on me last Thursday as I sat in an interview with a local Fox reporter. We started talking about the Chicago Aviation Police, and that’s when it hit me. Over the last few years, police violence has been a hot-button issue. It has spawned the Black Lives Matter movement, and it has polarized people around the country. And here was a textbook example of what people have been rallying against… a defenseless, older minority was dragged off an airplane by the police, and he was severely injured (though not killed, fortunately) in the process. You would have thought this would have ignited another round of vitriol aimed at the police, but no. Everyone blamed United. The Chicago Aviation Police even suspended officers over this, but nobody seems to care. It’s all about United, and that really says a great deal about just how much people hate airlines.

And unfortunately, there is no quick fix:

Can they do that? Well they’re trying. Flush with reasonable profits instead of the razor-thin margins (often negative) they’ve lived off of for years, airlines in the US are investing in their products. It’s now fairly normal to get free video content and free snacks when those were far from the norm just a couple years ago. And this stability also makes it a better work environment for employees. That should result in better service.

But while airlines have started to improve, they’ve also introduced product changes people instantly dislike, including Basic Economy and the decision to add more seats to airplanes. There may be rational justification for these moves, but they don’t play well publicly. Two steps forward, one step back. Or maybe it’s one step forward and two steps back. Either way, any improvement is met by the public with skepticism as people wait for the next axe to fall.

I wonder if people faced similar problems booking passage on sailing ships 200 years ago?

Draining the river, 25 years ago today

On 13 April 1992, a hole opened under the Kinzie Street Bridge and drowned Chicago's Loop:

During the Great Chicago Flood of 1992, 250,000 gallons of water had the city drowning by the hour.

The leak that sprung in the old freight tunnels under the city quickly turned into a major flood often referred to as the "unseen catastrophe.”

It was a calamity that filled the basements of buildings on State Street, LaSalle Street and even the Merchandise Mart. Water rose to 7 feet, then 10 feet and up. It cut power and evacuated trading floors at the Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange. It closed major retails stores like Marshall Fields and even left the Merchandise Mart wet and flooded.

Water poured in from the bottom up. But where was it coming from?

Back in September of 1991, wood pilings were driven into the Chicago River to act as bumpers for the Kinzie bridge house so passing boats wouldn't knock it over. Story has it, the contractor hired to install the pilings hit an  underground freight tunnel in the process creating a slow leak that got bigger and bigger with time until the tunnel gave way seven months later: April 13th, 1992.

Historian J.R. Schmidt has more:

It was an odd disaster.  At street level, everything looked as it always had.  Officials assured the public that the situation was under control. Governor Jim Edgar met with Mayor Richard M. Daley at City Hall. Afterward the governor told reporters there was no need to call out the National Guard.

About 11 a.m. the river locks were opened. That let the Chicago River resume its natural course into Lake Michigan. The water in the tunnels continued to rise, but more slowly.

By evening the water level had finally stabilized. Now the cleaning up and pumping out began. It would take weeks.  A private contractor finally had to be brought in to seal the original leak at Kinzie Street.

The water emergency was expensive. Some estimates place the price tag for damaged goods, repair costs, and lost business at over $100,000,000. For insurance reasons, the event is officially classified as a “leak.” But no matter what name is used, those who experienced it firsthand often echo the reaction of their mayor—“What a day!”

Public transit services shined that day, evacuating about a million people from downtown in only a few hours with no injuries or crime.