This post about some of the most unique bridges in the world got me thinking. For years Chicago politicians have discussed extending Lake Shore Drive up to Evanston -- the first suburb north of the city. Whenever the subject comes up, it always involves filling in the existing lake front and completely changing the shoreline along the Rogers Park neighborhood.
Not only is this a bad idea, but I think it lacks vision as well. First of all, the lake front we have is perfectly fine, with more public beaches per mile than any other neighborhood in the city. This is because once upon a time Rogers Park functioned as Chicago's "vacation area." Times change, however, and for the past fifty years or so Rogers Park has been considered at best a "transitional" area, one always on the cusp of a renewal that never quite seems to arrive. The current lake front is one of the few things Rogers Park has going for it, and altering or decreasing our access to it would be disastrous.
Instead, I'd like to propose building a kick-ass bridge from the end of Lake Shore Drive to Evanston. Something along the lines of France's Millau Viaduct, above, would be nice. A visually stunning bridge would not only preserve the current lake front and beach access, it would provide a unique identifier to the Rogers Park area, similar to San Francisco's Presidio and Marina districts, and a new iconic image for Chicago. Plus, for all our architectural splendors, a great bridge is not among them. And though I'm no expert on these matters, instinct tells me building a bridge would be less expensive than putting up an eight-lane highway over newly created land.
So, let this post be my notice to Mayor Daley and our alderman, Joe Moore. Think about it, guys.