A grand (and St. Clair) parking garage | WBEZ
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A grand (and St. Clair) parking garage

(photo by Lee Bey) 

I was near St. Clair and Grand yesterday when I spotted the above parking garage.

Yes, it is only a parking garage. But it is pure architectural modernism. Low and horizontal. Minimalist. The segmented neon "PARKING" sign to the left. If you cleaned up the place, got all the neon working and ditched that giant "Early Bird Special" sign to right--to paraphrase Peter O'Toole in "What's New Pussycat"--I know you'll think this is crazy, but when the light hits the garage in a certain direction, it's almost...handsome.

Downtown and the surrounding areas used to be filled with these then-city owned parking garages. You shudder to think what got torn down at mid-century to build them, but now the garages themselves are being demolished for new buildings. The most notable was the old Traffic Court garage--remember that one?---at 320 N. LaSalle was demo'd a few years back for a gleaming office tower. They're tearing down parking lots to put up paradises, now.

I'm not making a preservation case for this garage, or any other. But it is worth a look. I mean since we're already here and all:

(photo by Lee Bey) 

Ok, here are some more signs to get rid of:

(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey) 

My good buddies at Forgotten Chicago have done some great work on these old municipal parking garages. They've even dug up pretty lovely architectural renderings, historic photos and other ephemera. Check it out here.

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