Life is so arbitrary and exact, so painful and joyous, so loving and fleeting. As I LookAroundMe this is what I see and share through my words...

Thursday, December 29, 2005


After 9/11 I would look out at my view of Chicago from my 35th floor apartment and each building in our city’s exquisite signature skyline became personal. They belonged to me and every other Chicagoan. They represented the best of this city in its physical beauty, its diverse population and its historical architecture. Chicago’s skyline is the visible heartbeat of an exciting and proud American world-class city. It is a symbol of the tradition and meaning of being Chicago.

That we lost the battle in our plea to keep the Field's name was a blow to our city’s identity and sense of tradition. Now the Berghoff Restaurant where my husband and I have dinner before going to the Chicago Symphony and where a century of Chicagoans have enjoyed the food, beer and ambience is closing.

Another tradition that defines us as Chicagoans is lost. I am disheartened that other choices have not been made. Perhaps I am being selfish in making such a request, but I would have hoped that the management of Federated and the Berghoff family would have understood what their decisions mean to Chicagoans who have shared their lives with these structural icons. We have planned shopping trips and lunches and dinners within these memorable establishments. We have celebrated holidays and family occasions there. To now reduce them to a memory is painful.

The larger issue is the loss of traditions within our lives. Our skyline, our Field's, our Berghoff Restaurant. We do not own them but they are ours. As Chicagoans we cherish them. Traditions give meaning to our lives. Field's to Macy's is more than a change of name. Closing the Berghoff Restaurant is more than an owner family decision. These actions affect the larger citizenry. Our lives will change and our hearts are broken. What has meaning to us is being taken away. Our traditions are our anchors. In this new and frightening world, tradition is needed more than ever before.

PUBLISHED Chicago Tribune January 2006