City Beautiful, City CulturalThe City That Works
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The mayor was very much involved, as is his son, in beautifying the city. So he created urban beautification awards. Every year, they would give plaques to different people who had won awards.
Jerome Butler, City Architect, interview excerpt, July 8,2002
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We used to hand sweep the streets at night with a small crew in the downtown streets only. But it was a pretty wide area. Well, all of the visitors would come to Chicago. And these guys with the hand brooms would get between the cars. They’d get all the debris. If you went to New York, you’d see it all over. Well, people would come and they’d see all of this wonderful, cleaned up, downtown area. And they attributed it to being the same throughout it.
James McDonough, Commissioner of Department of Streets and Sanitation, interview excerpt, September 17, 2003
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Cleanup Parades on Chicago’s State Street. Click on the second image to play video.
Video: Excerpt from “Miscellaneous Footage” (no sound), RJD_04_02_0000_0000_049
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Well, one man that had a big business on Michigan Avenue came to him and suggested that he’d like to donate money to the city for the beautification and did. So Dick turned to him and he said, “No, the city has the money. I’ll tell you what you can do. We have the flower boxes. The city will donate those to the merchants for the streets. During the four seasons of the year, you businessmen can donate the flowers. That’d be a project for you people.” And they were greatly impressed with that. He didn’t just want the money to do it. He wanted to let them do it. They felt that they were part of the operation….But he always wanted the best.
Eleanor Daley, wife of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, December 17, 2002
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Mayor Daley promoted public artwork. One prominent (and controversial) example was the Picasso sculpture in the Loop. Click on the first image to play video.
Video: Excerpt from “Richard J. Daley: The Trees He Planted,” written and produced by Joe Howard, Executive Producer Ed Planer. RJD_04_02_0000_0000_016
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While Daley was mayor, the city commissioned famed artist Marc Chagall to create a public mosaic downtown. Translation of Chagall’s letter:
I have just received your letter of October 4. I thank you; and I must also express my emotion and gratitude for the warm greeting that you and your city gave me. I want to assure you that it is one of the best memories of my life. My wife joins me in sending to you and Mrs. Daley our most cordial sentiments.