Thursday, January 29, 2009

Red Granite (Updated)

Only a couple of miles north of downtown,
only a block away from Lake Michigan,
there is a skyscraper faced in red granite.

Seven hundred north Michigan Avenue.

The first dozen or so floors of the building
always have been dedicated to shopping.
Always it’s been called the Chicago Place mall.

Big money stores for the beautiful people.

I’ve eaten lunch in the mezzanine courtyard.
I’ve window-shopped with the beautiful people.
That is, I looked in the windows while they shopped.
There is a Saks there, but I never witnessed
Winona Ryder being beautiful there,
shopping, window-shopping or that other thing.
And now I never will. The mall is closing.

The shops are shutting down. The building owners
are converting to condos and office space.

Death, the monster snake, coils around the granite
and the beautiful people flee to Oak Street,
Ohio Street or the Water Tower Place.

The red stone building is like a mountain peak
north in the Magnificent Mile mountain range
but Death, the monster snake, is something larger
coiled around its summit. Death, the monster snake,
devours mountains and brings death even to rocks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Year Winds Down #2: Buying Junk

Dark days for Michigan Avenue mall


Okay, this is something like an extended ‘Oops.’

I wrote this post based on my memories of the great mall at 700 N. Michigan. When I lived on the north side of Chicago and worked on Michigan Avenue, I used to visit the mall a couple of times every week. It was my favorite north Michigan Avenue mall. I couldn’t afford to buy anything from any of the stores, but just walking through the place would remind me of the kind of world I wanted to live in and the kind of people I wanted to move among. (I haven’t accomplished either, yet.)


At the start of January I read the news story about the Chicago Place mall having troubles. For weeks I’ve wanted to post something about the mall because I spent so many pleasant afternoons walking around the place. This morning I put together today’s post. However, when I was looking around the ’net for photographs I began to suspect I may have mis-remembered a few points. [coughs]

It’s been many, many years since I visited 700 N. Michigan.

I walked past the place a few months ago when I attended at the Karen Kilimnik exhibit at the MCA, but then I was rushing around like a madman because I was parked in the Water Tower Place and it was costing me $20 for a few hours parking.

So, here’s what’s been bugging me:

First of all, the skyscraper that is associated with the mall I think is actually set back half a block from the mall structure itself. In the photograph at the top of the post, the building at 700 N. Michigan Avenue is the building with the pointy top just northwest of the Hancock Building.

Second, when I look at the mall’s current directory, I see there are eight levels, not a dozen.

Third, the current directory doesn’t even list a mezzanine. (I suspect I was mis-remembering the second level as the mezzanine. Either there used to be chairs and a restaurant there on the second level or I just got some wires crossed in my brain and was thinking of the eighth level as the mezzanine for some reason.)

Fourth, the facade of the mall structure and the skyscraper behind it might be something like pink marble and not red granite. (I don’t know why I associate the Chicago Place mall so strongly with a dark red granite facade. But I still do, even though I recognize the pictures of the building with the pinkish facade. I suspect that a smaller building either immediately north or south of 700 N. Michigan must have a dark red granite facade. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m up on the near north side.)

Sorry about all that!

I try to get details correct. And the fact that I titled today’s post “Red Granite” when the red granite I was thinking about apparently is on a completely different building really makes me frown.

But I’m not going to take down the post.

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