For decades, Chicago has haphazardly torn down the very architecture that made it famous throughout the world. It’s time to bring that history back.
The 600-acre US Steel Southworks site, once earmarked for a sprawling mixed-use development on Chicago’s South East side, will now be turned into the city’s official 79th Community Area, “New Old Chicago.”
The city’s Bureau of Overdevelopment & Parking formally approved plans to rebuild much of Chicago’s demolished history on the site. Replicas of Prentice Women’s Hospital, Comiskey Park, plus countless workers cottages and classic places of worship are just a few of the structures expected to be rebuilt once work begins this fall.
Several city officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of anyone finding out they voted in favor of this, stated the development will be an important restoration of Chicago’s history that, while abhorrently expensive and time-consuming, will provide several thousands of temporary jobs in the region, while re-creating a sense of nostalgia and civic pride that disappeared when the 1986 Bears didn’t win a second consecutive Super Bowl.
When asked if the rebuilt pieces of the city’s past will be used for their original purposes (Will Prentice Hospital be a medical facility? Will Chicago Stadium host basketball and hockey games?) each official ended our call and stopped responding to messages.
The entire development is expected to take several decades, with completion anticipated in 3Q 2052, though no ribbon-cutting ceremony had been scheduled as we went to press. A cost analysis estimates construction costs to reach $20-30 billion, though officials, again speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged it has been very difficult to reach a consensus on cost figures, while also admitting any cost-overrun could send overall expenses soaring into the trillions of dollars.
One city official, speaking strictly off the record, suggested community meetings would be held throughout the development process to allow public input as to what other historic Chicago edifices could be added to the project. However, said official acknowledged on the condition of anonymity, this process would likely delay the completion date, while piling on billions of dollars worth of additional costs.
Surprisingly, most residents in the area greeted the project’s approval with excitement. One potential new neighbor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said “it doesn’t seem too dense at all.” While another lauded the plan for blocking her view of “all that stupid blue water, which is really just wasted, unused, potential development space and I’m tired of looking at it” though she admitted more height would be nice. Another resident, who says his family has owned a home nearby for more than a century, said he hoped the residential aspects of the project would attract lots of new neighbors “who are just looking to rent here.”
Unconfirmed reports of the city’s intention to involve other cities as a way of off-setting costs (Houston is rumored to have interest in building a new Astrodome here) remain unconfirmed. Negotiations are ongoing.
Several officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, anticipate groundbreaking to happen at an undisclosed location on an undisclosed date and time later this year, while refusing to acknowledge whether any of them would attend in person. Representatives of their representatives could not be reached for comment.
Building Up New Old Chicago will continue to provide updates on this development’s development as they happen.
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