After living and working in the loop for two months, I am a fan of the Chicago skyline, which is a dramatic mix of old and new, with varied and creative architecture, and many of the tallest buildings in the world in the city considered the birthplace of the skyscraper.
In the midst of my skyscraper fascination, I read a good blogpost by Jonathan Merritt on the Q Blog about what towering builidngs tell us about ourselves. An excerpt:
Mason Cooley stated it most succinctly: “A skyscraper is a boast in glass and steel.” As such, our city’s buildings have become a statement on our prosperity spoken through the megaphone of architecture. Someone has well said, if one wants to know what America thinks of herself, look at her skylines.
In a city where winter will not ease its frosty grip and Spring is rumored but unfulfilled to date, Chicago can use the boost of a boast.
Of note, as Merritt points out, is that office buildings have replaced towering church spires as the central symbols of city centers:
But skyscrapers tell us about more than the material realities we’re facing. Spiritually, they tell us about America’s changing religious landscape. City skylines were once filled with more than tall buildings. In America’s early years, churches broke the rhythm of banks and businesses. As Harvard Professor Edward Glasser has pointed out, early city planners in the West took note of the Bible’s “Tower of Babel” narrative, and as a result, the tallest buildings in city centers were almost always churches.
There are still good, vibrant churches in the city. It’s just become more difficult to find them.
A church on Monroe Street that I walked by one evening last week.