Former president Obama was just hit with a devastating setback when his planned Center in Chicago was found to be violating federal laws against destroying sites placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Breitbart, the current plans have the Center being spread out over sections of three sites with history stretching back to 1869. The area of Jackson Park that Obama is planning to include in his huge project includes the area where the World’s Columbian Exposition was staged in Jackson Park and the Midway in 1893. Created by famed architect Daniel Burnham – the one that made Central Park in New York City – the Midway was placed on the historic site registry in 1972.
Plus, this center would disrupt a portion of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Washington Park, a site that was added to the registry in 2004, and it will require the closure of Cornell Drive as well – a roadway that is an integral part of the park system.
Historic preservation group Cultural Landscape Foundation is arguing that the proposal for this new center would violate the rules of the historic registry, and is calling for the review of Obama’s construction project to be expanded to review the impact it will have on the whole series of protected parklands. This is what the group’s president, Charles Birnbaum, wrote to the federal government:
“There is a need to fully recognize the unity of the South parks, which has now been brought into greater relief by the current proposal to impose a parking garage at the eastern terminus and hinge point of the Midway Plaisance, effectively placing a further barrier to the connection that Olmsted and Vaux first envisioned.”
In addition, he said that Olmsted’s design “was supposed to lead visitors on a choreographed journey through passages of landscape scenery, and neither the location nor the disposition of the roads were chosen by accident”. He also noted that the Obama Center would erase that journey, and the huge tower planned for the Center itself would destroy the historic sites:
“The presidential center tower would adversely affect viewsheds from the full expanse of the Midway Plaisance, not only from the portion of it now included. The imposition of hundreds of feet tall high-rise tower is directly contrary to the overall concept of the park.”