|J.J. Madia in 2017|
Chicago is a city marked by disaster. Maybe even defined by it. Not only did the modern metropolis arise out of the ashes of the 1871 fire, but it then assembled a chain of terrible tragedies, such as the Iroquois Theatre fire in 1903 and the Eastland capsizing in 1915, the former the most lethal building fire in U.S. history (unless you consider 9/11 just a building fire, and I don’t), the latter among the deadliest maritime disasters ever.
There’s more. The Our Lady of the Angels School Fire. The first major aviation disaster in U.S. history was in Chicago, the Wingfoot Express, a hydrogen-filled Goodyear blimp that exploded over the Loop in 1919, crashing through the skylight of a bank building, killing 13 people.
Chicagoans tend to overlook them. To me, the 1992 Loop Flood, which occurred 30 years ago today, barely counts among the disasters mentioned above. A flood where not only nobody got hurt, but most people never saw floodwaters. How big of a deal could it be?
25th-anniversary story online. Would I mind talking to their cameras about the flood? Maybe down in the very freight tunnels under downtown? Well ....
On one hand, hours would be spent to benefit someone other than myself. Who’d ever know I was on British TV? Yet there is a siren allure to being on TV anywhere. Appearing on TV means something. It is significant, and British TV, double significant. They’re all so refined, the Brits.
True, I’d have to be at City Hall at 8:30 a.m. But heck, why not? Change of pace.
So I’m there, waiting by the bronze “CITY HALL” sign, bright-eyed, expectant. I get a text from the producer. Traffic. Running late. That happens! No worries! I slide over to Petra’s for a cup of coffee.
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