Monday, April 23, 2007

Ode to the City of the Chicago Spire

This is my ode to the city of the Chicago Spire. Chicago is the probable future home of the Chicago Spire, which will be the tallest building in the United States. It awaits a final approval vote from a Chicago zoning board.

Chicago deserves to get its new 2,000 foot high tower. The city already has some of the greatest skyscrapers in the world. It is the home of architect Louis Sullivan, the father of the skyscraper. Chicago's towers are tall, straight and proud.

I say this as a New Yorker. I love New York's buildings, but they are often hammered by bizarre zoning rules that force flattened pancake shapes on their structures. Many New Yorkers today dislike tall buildings; as a result they clamor for zoning laws that squeeze new buildings ever shorter. It is no wonder that our tallest building and my favorite, the Empire State Building, is over 75 years old. The taller World Trade Center, now gone, wasn't even built by a private developer, but by a state agency that had exempted itself from all of the zoning laws that private builders are forced to obey.

I exult that the new Chicago tower will be residential. Chicago builds gloriously tall residential structures, as a matter of course. It is easy and inexpensive to find rental or condo apartments that are 30, 40 or even 50 stories high, complete with pool on the roof! In New York, new residential towers that tall are almost non-existent. The oppressive height restrictions that afflict our city are especially stringent against tall residential buildings.

New York also suffers terribly from another affliction that Chicago does not have: rent control. Rent control has stunted the natural height of the city, and laid waste to square miles of land once teeming with private apartment buildings in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and upper Manhattan. Rent control makes apartments more scarce, so that the available apartments are far more expensive than they are, for example, in Chicago, which has no rent control!

Let Chicago build the tallest building in the United States. Let Chicago again inspire New York as it did in the days of Louis Sullivan. Let it inspire New York to stand up and build the world's tallest buildings as the world's greatest city should!

That's my ode to Chicago, sung by a New Yorker.

[Hat tip to Gus Van Horn's blog, where I posted a version of this as a comment to his post.]


coreyo said...


Omar Cruz said...
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