Sears appliance circular does strange things to the Chicago skyline

It is not too unusual for cities to be misrepresented in movies or television shows but this takes place in other areas as well. A Sears advertising circular from Friday, September 9, takes some interesting liberties with the Chicago skyline. Take a look:

Perhaps this looks fairly standard: the Sears logo in the top left, a “big price drop” balloon coming down from the sky in the upper right corner, six appliances on sale, and then a picture of the Chicago skyline at the bottom. While this may be just pandering to this metropolitan region, it also hints at Sears’ history: the first Sears store opened in Chicago in 1925 and their headquarters are still in the region.

But if you look more closely at the skyline picture, two strange things pop up. The first: a green lawn. Here is a close-up of the bottom left of the circular:

This green view is pretty much impossible. To get a wide view of the skyline from this angle, one needs to be at the Adler Planetarium promontory. From there, one needs to stand either on a hill sloping down, meaning the lawn is difficult to get into the shot, or from the concrete steps or walkway that go around this point. Plus, the grass is pretty high here relative to the height of the buildings. So why include the grass? It would make some sense if the circular was advertising lawn mowers – but it is not. Perhaps the “big price drop” balloon needs a safe place to land. Or the circular needs a touch of pleasing green. Or a focus group suggested the green lawn invokes images of home life, the need for beautiful appliances, and the American Dream.

In addition to the strange grass, there is something odd going on at the right (east) side of the skyline. Here is a closer view:

Even looking closely at the circular, I have a hard time figuring out what is going on here. It appears to be a hill sloping up from the lake with some buildings on the hill. Why was this added to the picture? I really have no good idea – to fill up space?

Here is what the view of the Chicago skyline looks like from my own camera near Adler Planetarium, sans verdant lawn or black hill:

If this was the starting point for the Sears image, one could crop and play with it in such a way that the added blue from Lake Michigan could be removed but adding the lawn and hill is not necessary. It would still be a very nice and useful shot.

Seeing China’s growth in two pictures of Shanghai

Urban growth and building can occur at a very quick pace. The population growth and building in Chicago in the late 1800s was tremendous. BusinessInsider has two pictures that show the rapid construction that took place in one part of Shanghai between 1990 and 2010.

The pictures are fascinating in themselves. But an explanation of exactly what happened and how it happened would be even better.

h/t The Infrastructurist

Competition for Empire State Building on NYC skyline

A developer has proposed a new skyscraper near the Empire State Building (ESB) in New York City and the ESB’s owner is arguing against it:

The tower would spoil the famous view of the 102-story skyscraper for millions of tourists, the Empire State Building’s owner, Anthony Malkin, testified Monday at a City Council hearing. It “defines New York,” he said.

“We view this as an assault on New York City and its iconography,” said Malkin, whose grandfather founded the Malkin Holdings company. It’s “the end of the image of New York City that billions of people hold dear.”

The City Council is to vote this week on whether to allow a developer to erect a 67-story tower that’s only 34 feet lower than the 79-year-old Empire State Building, the city’s tallest skyscraper.

The proposed tower’s developer, David Greenbaum, says 15 Penn Plaza would provide critically needed and state-of-the-art office space to midtown Manhattan, creating at least 7,000 new jobs.

“The fact is, New York City’s skyline has never stopped changing, and I certainly hope it never will,” testified Greenbaum, president of Vornado Realty Trust’s New York chapter.

This is an interesting example of many development battles: someone wants to make money with a new building and someone else wants to preserve what the neighborhood (and perhaps wants to protect their own investment).

I have a hard time buying the argument that the building shouldn’t be built because it is “an assault on New York City.” As the developer notes, skylines change pretty frequently. There could be other arguments to make against the building but preserving the skyline doesn’t sound reasonable. In fact, the changing of the skyline is often part of what makes cities interesting; they are consistently changing.