Monday, October 04, 2010

Brand new lakefront

So for about a hundred years now (or maybe just three), they've been doing construction on a half-mile section of the lake's breakwall from Diversey northward. Like all of these massive public projects, it dragged on and on, always giving you the sense that if it was in other hands it would be done in half the time.

It's been a controversial project. Here's how the breakwall used to look, all up and down the lake, from Hyde Park up to Evanston (where it's not beach) -- these big old, rough-hewn limestone blocks arranged in loose stair-step fashion.

Pro: an authentic and natural look that blends well with the lakefront scenery. Con: decrepit and unsafe, at least according to modern engineers.

So for the past few years, they've been gradually replacing the old blocks with this monstrosity:

A bland, monolithic, poured concrete breakwall designed, I guess, to withstand the worst of what Lake Michigan has to offer for generations to come.

During the time they've been constructing it, not only was this long section of the lakefront closed, but acres and acres of grass were also fenced off and unavailable for football and softball and picnics and fireworks viewing.

They even had a giant pen where the old blocks were piled up and imprisoned. (I assumed they were kept in case litigation forced them to revert to the old design.)

I'm long past objecting to the ugly design. I just wanted my local lakefront back. But there were a couple of pleasant surprises in the new construction. Concessions to the naysayers, apparently. First, they preserved (or reconstructed) this nice rubble pile.

These are great for getting down close to the water and cooling your feet. They also make a good dog launching point for retrievers fetching tennis balls and frisbees.

They also lined the upper part with some of the originals blocks, which was a nice touch. Some of them even still include their original graffiti art, which I'm glad they didn't sandblast off.

The rest they arranged in neat little bench-like Stonehenge-esque conversational groupings.

I suspect it's actually been done for quite a while now and they just wanted to give the new sod a chance to "take." On the downside, the whole area has apparently been a months-long haven for a huge and ridiculously incontinent flock of geese.

Either way, I'm just glad to have the lake back, even if it's a little late to enjoy it this year.

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