Northern Illinois University Press

Two Tales of a City

Rebuilding Chicago's Architectural and Social Landscape, 1986–2005

Gail Satler

Foreword by Lee Bey

“a Coffee-table book that aims to make an argument.”—Indiana Magazine of History

“Gail Satler’s study of architecture and the ways in which architecture impacts the human experience is unique.”—Keith Mendenhall, Gehry Partners

"As a guide to Chicago's recent urban transformation, Satler's book is indispensable."—Michigan Historical Review

Architecture creates a social world. The built environment structures and facilitates the functions of a city and interactions among human beings. Stores, restaurants, theaters, parks, offices, and apartment buildings—all are spaces where people encounter one another as they act out their daily lives. In this insightful study of Chicago’s new Central Area, Gail Satler illuminates the ways in which the renovations of the past two decades have reconfigured the social as well as the physical landscape.

Tracing the renovation process from concept to construction, Satler examines design plans and interviews officials and architects who envisioned a revitalized Central Area. Then she leads the reader on a tour of State Street, the Chicago River, and Millennium Park with stops at historic and recent landmarks. Along the way, she notes how the mixture of housing, retailing, business, and recreation fosters diverse uses of urban space. At the same time, by drawing from marginal areas and welcoming a diversity of users, the Central Area expands the Chicago community.

As Satler so clearly documents, architecture embodies ideology and social relationships. For this reason, it also offers potential for reforming the life of a city. Satler’s work is creative and cutting edge, but in this personable, illustrated book, she gently encourages readers to notice architecture and the ways in which it shapes their own world.

(2006) 272 pp., 25 color & 46 b/w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-357-9
cloth $39.95

Gail Satler is Professor of Sociology at Hofstra University and author of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Living Space.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Lee Bey
List of Abbreviations
Introduction—The Question of Centrality
1—The Vision Plan
2—Taking It to the Street—Observations and Reflections
3—(Re)turning to the River
4—Going with the Flow—A Walk along the Riverfront
6—Branching Out—From Center to Peripheries
7—Reaching In—From Peripheries to Center
Conclusion—Checagou, Chicago, Chicagoland—Reimaging an Unfolding City
Selected Bibliography

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-357-9
cloth $39.95