This blog started four years ago this month.
During that time you’ve been gracious enough to indulge me as I wrote about new buildings, explored abandoned structures, documented lesser-known streetscapes and found obscure movies and video—all in service of telling stories about Chicago’s built environment.
Some of these explorations were pure fun, like the time Columbia College—which owns the former Johnson Publishing Company headquarters on south Michigan Avenue—let me photograph the building’s perfectly-intact 1970s mod interiors.
Others were tougher to swallow, such as the demolition of the former Michael Reese Hospital. Wrecking those buildings compounded an earlier, and greater, civic tragedy: that a world-class medical institution like Reese would be allowed to waste away in the first place. The continual erosion of building and population from the greater South Side was another point of concern.
And there are more stories: The redevelopment of the city’s neighborhoods; the fate of all those shuttered schools; the midcentury architecture and classic churches at are at risk. But they are stories others will have to tell. This is my last blog post for WBEZ.
It’s been a good run here and I’ve been treated well. But I’ve just landed a new job at the University of Chicago working with artist and placemaker Theaster Gates that’ll demand my full energies.
After years of sounding the trumpet about the importance of assisting neighborhoods, I figured it was time to join in and do some work of a different sort.
So a hearty thanks to WBEZ and executive producer Justin Kaufmann who brought me in four years ago and named the blog “Beyond the Boat Tour” (I wasn’t fond of that name, originally—and I caught flak from friends at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, as you might imagine). But after a while, the title grew on me. And praise is due to Digital Content Director Tim Akimoff and his team who manage a stable of bloggers of which I was proud to be a member.
My biggest “thank you” goes out to you readers. You’ve suggested ideas, posed questions, praised what you liked and challenged what you read. All of that made me better, sharper and appreciative. And let’s stay in touch. You can follow me on Twitter @leebey, Facebook and Lee Bey’s Soul Closet, a personal blog devoted to 20th Century African-American pop culture, movies, film and ephemera, that will re-debut in a few weeks.