I am generally not an overly sentimental or romantic person, but when it comes to my adopted hometown (I’m from Pittsburgh originally, so yes, I was depressed Saturday night) I tend to wax lyrical and poetic. For me Chicago symbolizes much of what is important, valuable, and beautiful about human creativity and the human spirit (those of you who want to be snarky and invoke Al Capone, machine politics, etc. here should just get over the fact that humanity is complex).
I’m not the only one, and starting tonight, Chicago: City of the Century will be celebrated in a three-part documentary on PBS. The good and the bad, politics, economics, culture, architecture, arts, science, sports; Chicago has had a pivotal role in the American experience in the 19th and 20th centuries. I think this documentary will celebrate all of that. From the website:
City of the Century chronicles Chicago’s dramatic transformation from a swampy frontier town of fur traders and Native Americans to a massive metropolis that was the quintessential American city of the nineteenth century. The film tells how innovation, ingenuity, determination and ruthlessness created empires in what was a marshy wasteland and describes the hardships endured by millions of working men and women whose labor helped a capitalist class reinvent the way America did business. Along the way, this program revels in Chicago’s triumphs — among them the architectural experimentation that gave the city one of the world’s most distinctive skylines — and delves into the heart of Chicago’s painful struggles. Bringing to life the Windy City’s rich mixture of cultures, its writers and journalists, its political corruption and labor upheavals, this film bears witness to the creation of one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the world.
Dynamic and vibrant indeed.