Thursday, February 23, 2012

201 W. Madison, the Poetry Garage

Snow tonight, the kind we usually get often from December through February, not just on scattered days during the winter. The entire day was cloudy, with some drizzle. In the early afternoon, I looked out the window and saw light rain and large snowflakes falling together -- almost straight down, since there was little wind. There was no reason to go out today, so I didn't.

Yesterday I needed to be downtown for a few hours. On the way back to my train, I noticed that the parking garage at 201 W. Madison now calls itself the Poetry Garage. I used to pass by that structure often, but never noticed that it had a floor-remembering scheme. I've seen other such memory schemes, of course, including one featuring a different Chicago sports team for each floor at the long-term parking garage at O'Hare. But this is the first one I've ever noticed, and may be the only one anywhere, that uses poets or any literary figure toward that end.

"Each level will be represented by a culturally significant poet from various historical periods and poetic genres," says the facility's web site. "Sights and sounds of poetry will entertain parkers and enable each guest to remember where to find their car. With a facade designed by Lucien LaGrange, this architecturally significant parking garage was designed to exceed the stringent and evolving city aesthetic code requirements for parking garages."

I'd be surprised if the city's "aesthetic code requirements for parking garages" is actually that strict, but never mind. Good idea, Lucien, if that was your idea (he's an architect I've met a few times). The poets and their floors are as follows:

2nd Level: Billy Collins, "Forgetfulness."
3rd Level: Ernest L. Thayer, "Casey at the Bat."
4th Level: Emily Dickinson, "Success is Counted Sweetest."
5th Level: W.H. Auden, "The More Loving One."
6th Level: Alberto Rios, "The Cities Inside Us."
7th Level: Kay Ryan," A Hundred Bolts of Satin."
8th Level: Carl Sandburg, "Languages."
9th Level: Langston Hughes, "Harlem."
10th Level: Robert Frost, "Mending Wall."

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