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Welcome Back, Pony!

Today is the first day back at work since the fire. The damage to our archive wasn't nearly so bad as the head librarian had feared, and the charcoal filters that the school installed have removed the smoky smell from the air. Inside the building, everything is the same as it was before. Except that, out my window, there is a scene of devastation.

It's hard to describe, so I got a camera, and I'm taking pictures. I'll post them when they're developed. The wrecking crews are already hard at work, and much of the Dexter Building has come down already. The walls remain up through the ground floor, and one jagged spike on the southwest corner of the building. A hose squirts a jet of water into the air. Possibly, it is to dampen any remains that might still be smoldering. Behind the shell, the el trains lumber by, slowly, cautiously. Travelers to the South Side are treated to an up-close-and-personal view of the aftermath of a building fire.

Inside this jagged framework are hundreds of thousands of bricks. The Dexter Building was an old brick skyscraper, one of the first of its kind. It's difficult to imagine, when you look at one of those buildings, just how many tiny little pieces went into making it. Out my window at work, you can see all of those little pieces now. Hundreds of thousands of bricks, tumbled any which way, spilling out into the street. The liquor store and bartending school next door is closed, and its wall bears scorch marks. Wabash street just north of Balbo is a police zone, whithin which wrecking crews slowly carry all the bits and pieces away, after first hosing them down carefully to make sure they're cool enough to handle.

And yet, the fire didn't destroy everything in its path. Just outside the liquor store, there's a little baby tree in a pot. It seems to have lost a few branches, but it's still green and relatively healthy. It's alive.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
perelleth
Oct. 30th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Wow! Impressive! The desolation after a fire is something that really scares me, but good for the young tree! and good that the damages are lesser than feared in your case! It is terrifying, anyway...

I've been doing some research about the wine-music question...all I have is an email a friend who was attending the congress sent me. The speaker was Dr. José Nicolás Taboada, Professor of Toxicology at the Univesity of La Laguna, in the Canary Islands (not a bad place for a research stage...)

She told me she would send me the paper as soon as the proceedings were issued. For what she said, the man began explaining that the brain area which was impresed when istening to music was the same that got excited by wine consumption. After that, my friend reports, he began a link between classic and popular musci and wine along history in the mEditerranean basin. I've googled the man, but found nothing related, and the website of the Congress is not very informative...

http://www.enologo.com/congreso/tenerife/congreso.html

Anyway, I've sent my friend a reminder...




frenchpony
Oct. 30th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
I'll see if I can get a good picture of the little tree when I leave work today. It really is impressive to see the machinery at work disassembling the building. They have to do it very slowly and carefully, almost brick by brick, because the support framework for the building is so weak and because the el runs right behind it. There's this one crane that's been taking little bites out of the south wall for a good half hour already.

Thanks for the information about the speaker. I'm glad I read Spanish!
meckinock
Oct. 30th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
That fire was really sad. I guess it was one of Adler and Sullivan's early buildings. I read in the Trib that the owner had just been trying to get the city to give her some historic preservation money for the building, and she didn't have any insurance on it.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:23 am (UTC)
I think she was banking on that building as her retirement income, once she reopened the steakhouse. Which seemed to be an iffy proposition in and of itself, seeing as how it had already gone out of business once, and that area of the Loop is not the most happenin' place any more. All things considered, it was probably just as well that it was abandoned at the time, or there might have been people seriously hurt.
elliska
Oct. 31st, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
I'm glad your archive is ok. But I can't imagine looking out on all that destruction. Things like that, for some reason, have a big impact on me. Make me really sad to see all that loss. So I'm glad you mentioned the little tree.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:24 am (UTC)
It's truly an amazing sight out my window now. The official guesstimate is that it'll take at least two weeks to clear the site.

The baby tree was alive when last I looked. The trick now will be for it to survive the wrecking crew.
gwynhyffar
Oct. 31st, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
wow. The aftermath of fire is really... ugly. I'm happy about the tree.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
The aftermath of this fire is indeed ugly. But it could have been so much worse. The building was abandoned, and the liquor store next door didn't catch, and all the other buildings were basically okay. We just have to hope that the baby tree makes it through the wrecking process.
saadiira
Oct. 31st, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
Oh wow, it's always sad when an older building like that is destroyed, but thank goodness that most of that archive survived.

I don't believe that there are too many tragedies greater than when museums or libraries burn. Even if no life is lost, the products, the legacy of so many can be.

-Dira-
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
In this case, the building itself was abandoned. It destroyed a little old lady's retirement income, but nothing else was injured. The real tragedy is that this is one of a fast vanishing legacy of Louis Sullivan's architechture. He was one of the guys who invented modern architechture in Chicago in the 1880s, and this building was revered as a precursor to the Auditorium Building. Between this one and Pilgrim Baptist, which burned in January, Sullivan's legacy is fast disappearing.
fafojoy
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
Historical buildings burning is sad. It is interesting to watch the clean up process... i imagine that the water is helping with sparks, but also keeping fibers and dust (asbestos concern) down too. We watched them take the building next to us down and it was quite a process. They had water pouring on it whenever they were working too.

But hey, you got a few extra days off.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 02:30 am (UTC)
Of course, the ironic thing is that, on the day the fire happened, I was looking at my enormous history assignment and wishing for a couple of extra hours in my week. Now I feel like a Stephen King Heroine.

My boss commented that I'd be the lucky one who could watch the demolition over the next few weeks out my window.
bodkin_ra
Oct. 31st, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
how many tiny little pieces went into making it.

That's impressive - it says something about people and imagination and persistence, I think. While the tree says something about the durability of the natural world and the endurance of hope in the face of remarkable odds. I hope someone moves the pot out of harm's way for a while. It would be a shame if it got squashed now.
frenchpony
Oct. 31st, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)
I go back to work on Wednesday. Let's all hope that the baby tree is still there. I imagine that the wrecking crews will have most of the walls down by then, and they'll spend the next couple of weeks just shoveling out the debris.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )