What ‘choo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?

_46070005_-6Look, many corporations have made huge contributions to the culture part of our culture, giving money to museums, funding theaters, building beautiful venues like Millenium Park. But the name The Sears Tower is not a cultural contribution. The big amazing building is still the amazing thing we behold it to be. Yes, we’re all used to calling it the Sears tower. But it’s like the day that a friend of mine said “I hope they never rename Wrigely Field some stupid corporate name…”

Ok, that was me that said that.

We feel attached to it because we’ve always called it that. But a change in name does not change the structure itself. It still exists as both a practical, physical accommodation for work, and a piece of architecture, and by extension, art, in our landscape. That doesn’t change. It’s still cool. We’ll still reluctantly take our out of town guests there because we can’t persuade them to go to the Hancock instead. Do we really value that it’s always been referred to by the name of a corporate entity? I’m sure Mr. Sears did lots for the community over the years. Apparently Mr. Roebuck was an a-hole. Either way, the name is not what we love about it.

Alex Lucas of Arlington Heights argues “Chicago is going to lose a big part of what is its identity and I don’t know what’s going to fill that space.”

He has built this website.

Alex, please tell me you put this much energy into trying to stop the Iraq war. Please tell me you marched or at least called your congressman. Dude, we’re not losing a big part of our identity. It’s uncomfortable because forward progress and change are often uncomfortable. But the name is the name. What we love about Willis tower is that it’s really tall and you have to take two elevators and umpteen escalators to get to the top and everyone knows someone who works there and it has its own zip code and we still debate if it has 106 floors, or 110. That’s what we like about Willis tower. Likewise, we will still not be able to explain to out-of-towners that there’s really no value in going down there, that the Hancock has a better view, is located near things and at least you get a drink for your $15. So don’t worry. You’ll still end up there with your relatives and against your will.

And Alex, if you think that Willis Tower is that big a part of Chicago’s identity, you need to get out of Arlington Heights on the weekends and get down to like, one of our amazing museums, world-class theaters or Millenium Park. It’s not as tall as the Tower, but it’s a nice little bit of Chicago.