Last week I was in Illinois, where I had been invited to talk to the Museum Studies class at my alma mater, Lake Forest College. I've been back to the campus a couple of times since graduating in 2008, but what made this trip special was having the opportunity to give something back to the students, in this instance by my professional experiences and perspectives within the museum field. I always love visiting Chicago and its environs, but being able to do something positive for a school that has done so much for me was really gratifying.
While I was there, I took the train down to Chicago to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the Art Institute, as well as attend the CSO. As I was waiting for train, I drew one of the towers in Market Square. Completed in 1916, Market Square is one of the earliest and most important planned shopping centers in the United States, and emblematic of the City Beautiful movement that captivated American urban planning during the early twentieth century. In an effort to attract shoppers, who typically took the train to the Windy City, the planners of Market Square channeled 16th-century European designs, particularly the Brussels area, to create a space that seemed both inviting and timeless, as though it had been there for centuries.
Santa Fe would take a similar approach a few years later, though it would take ancient pueblos as its inspiration rather than medieval Europe, and call itself the City Different to distinguish itself from its counterparts on the Eastern seaboard and Midwest.