Monday, July 21, 2008

Hail to the Queen... Or not.

Here are three things that most Chicagoans don't know.

  1. The area across Lake Shore Drive from Buckingham Fountain is called Queen's Landing.
  2. It was named that when Queen Elizabeth II's yacht moored there during a visit to the city.
  3. Next year is the 50th anniversary of that event.
While city government doesn't seem prepared to mark the occasion, private groups are turning up the heat.  They'd like to see the long-desired pedestrian under- or overpass finally be built linking Buckingham Fountain with the lake.  Each year millions of confused tourists try to cross Lake Shore Drive because it simply doesn't make sense that you can't get to the water from the fountain.  Until a couple of years ago there was a pedestrian crossing, but CDOT killed it.

With the 50th anniversary of Elizabeth's visit almost here some people are hoping to revive the lakefront link plan.  There are discussions about getting a British architect to design the project, and maybe a British company to pay for it.

Now, it's already waaaay too late to get a pedestrian link to Queen's Landing built in time for the anniversary, but it's not too late to organize a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the date.  But that would need a commitment from the city to actually get the thing built.  

The city is starting or completing a number of projects linking lakefront parks with the actual lake, including 11th Street and Solidarity Drive and the new bridges being considered for Lincoln Park.  Maybe it's finally time for this long-overdue project to get started.

Also interested in the project is the British Consulate in Chicago.  It would love to have some sort of ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the queen's visit, but isn't sure what it can do in conjunction with the city yet.   One thing is certain -- if they want to get a British dignitary or a member of the royal family to be here for the ribbon cutting, they'd better get their request in soon.  Very soon.  Official visits have to be planned months in advance.

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