The Richard J. Daley Center – Trapped in Time

The Daley Center never changes.  About once every five years life takes me there for one reason or another.  Last Wednesday was one such day and, as expected, everything is exactly the same as it was in the 1990’s.  It is probably not very different from opening day in 1965.

The Picasso sculpture still stands guard out front.  It is less of a city symbol than it was before Cloud Gate was completed in Millennium Park.  But all the pieces were fabricated at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works.  So in my book it is more a part of Chicago than Cloud Gate ever will be.


Everything about the interior offices, right down to bookshelves and desks, looks the same.  The only sign of modern America is an occasional personal computer station.  Who knows when they were added.  But it is a safe bet to say that Cook County officials got away with out personal computers for as long as possible.


After concluding all business my visit ended at Starbucks in the basement concourse.  The fact that there is a Starbucks at all, of course, is a big change.  But that aside things were once again exactly as they always have been.


It is an odd experience.  In one sense it is comforting to see that some things stay the same.  In another you wonder why this place never changes while they find incredible amounts of money for grand public works projects.  In yet another it is an interesting lesson in architectural history.

Whatever your take on all of that, with the current financial crisis it is unlikely the Richard J. Daley Center will enter the modern world any time soon.

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