Building a New Chicago

I was skeptical of Rahm coming in as mayor.  But as time goes by I’m getting more and more impressed by his ability to take on the unions, manipulate the media, get things done, outmaneuver worthless alderman, and most importantly develop and articulate his vision for the city.  (It appears that) He gets it.   You can say a great number of things about Rahm Emanuel; but you can’t say that he doesn’t think big.

There are several stories out this week about Rahm’s Building a New Chicago plan.

Unveiling a plan for “Building a New Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday promoted a package of infrastructure initiatives that included very little that was new — except for its $7 billion price tag and its ambitious framing as a mission comparable to the city’s rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire.

via Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune’s piece quotes local hacks:

“It was a State of the Union speech in Chicago.  I think it was a good blueprint for Chicago’s future.”
— Alderman Richard Mell (33rd Ward)

… and the not so hacky:

“I think this speech was aimed toward Chicagoans in general, and aimed toward business, because actually, these types of pronouncements are out there to encourage businesses to say, ‘I’m thinking of coming to Chicago, I want to open a place in Chicago, I want to do business in or with Chicago.’  These are all speeches geared toward making us an attractive option in a very global economy.”
— Alderman Patrick O’Conner (40th Ward)

This is where the Sun-Times nails it:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday urged major airlines squeezed by skyrocketing fuel prices to come to the table a year early and negotiate a fourth new runway at O’Hare Airport as part of a $7.3 billion plan to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure and create 30,000 jobs.

via Chicago Sun-Times.


It’s almost as an afterthought it mentions some of the other projects, the story’s nearly last paragraph:

Other projects include: fixing 26 miles of CTA slow zones and renovating, repairing or rebuilding 100 CTA stations over the next ten years; building a new Green Line station at 22nd and Cermak; acquiring 180 acres of park land over five years and building 12 new parks, 20 new playgrounds, and eight artificial turf fields; building a new Malcolm X College and a new classroom building at Olive-Harvey College.

Companies will come to Chicago because of O’Hare.  People will want to live here because of O’Hare.

Rahm’s not wrong to make the comparisons to rebuilding after the Chicago Fire.  The Chicago Fire permitted the city to change the entire layout of the downtown area, build Grant Park, move the stockyards, and become a the Midwest rail transportation center for the country.  St. Louis could have easily bested Chicago due to it’s Mississippi River and centralized rail center location.  It was the Chicago Fire that really permitted Chicago to become what it was… not St. Louis.

Airplanes are today’s rail cars.

Miami International put together an interesting document which ranks airports for 2010:


  • Total Passengers  –  O’Hare  is 2nd
  • International Passengers  –  O’Hare is 5th
  • Total Cargo  –  O’Hare is 5th
  • Total Freight  –  O’Hare is 5th
  • International Freight  –  O’Hare is 4th
  • Total Aircraft Movements  –  O’Hare is 2nd

O’Hare is the lifeline we need to dig out of the hole we’ve (Daley’s) made for ourselves.  It’s right to prepare O’Hare for the next 50 years of service when we’re going to ask more of it.

The plan’s not perfect.  But perfect if the enemy of good.