Sunday, April 09, 2006

Martian Eros

Image: Number Five

Some might see Springfield, Illinois as devoid of culture, and opportunity. Those criticisms hold a great deal of validity. Springfield needs a great deal more of everything to become a city worth boasting about. The city is relatively safe, relatively compact, and relatively boring.
There is a limited amount of economic, and cultural opportunity, and for many the exceedingly slow pace of community development is harder to tolerate by the year.

Image: Chocolate Bars

I've often heard in defense of our slow growing community that slow growth offers those who lead Springfield, Illinois the time to plan its growth. Yet, that one advantage which slow growth allegedly offers seems to have been overlooked. Just look at "New Springfield" on Springfield's west side as an indication of what is in store for the future of Springfield.

New Springfield, which is located west of Veterans Parkway is essentially a barren wasteland of commercial spaces. There is no real community there at all. No sidewalks, no public spaces for anyone to misinterpret the space as civic in nature. Public roads lead to private parking lots, to insure that shoppers arrive at the doorsteps of the various strip malls that make up the "Public Spaces" of New Springfield.

A feeling of "safety" is substituted for a feeling of civic belonging in the artificial constructs of New Springfield. New Springfield is as sterile, and white as an unused Kotex. A sense of alienation is reinforced by the passively hostile minimalist designs employed by various office park buildings. After the initial sense of excitement over Springfield's west side growth subsides a further look reveals stark offices employing dark, or mirrored windows with no ornamentation - no outward statement to suggest connection to an organic nature to human society. These orwellian styled office buildings are dark structures - the pride of New Springfield.

Even the modern church buildings in New Springfield are hideous warehouse like structures designed to assure those already cast into Springfield, Illinois' west side that everything is o.k., as long as one accepts the fate of man as impliment.

New Springfield's well to do shelter themselves in large warehouse like buildings designed to impress through size alone. Wall size has been substituted for beauty. It doesn't matter how ugly the boxy Hummer SUV is as long as it's bigger than other cars on the road, and that mentality seems to have driven housing dezign in Panther Creek - the jewel in New Springfield's ugly crown.

Image: Martian Eros

The State of Illinois needs to beautify the area around the Illinois State Capitol Complex. Street after street of that area consist of gravel parking lots. The damage to Springfield's image which those gravel lots has caused is tremendous. The sheer excitement that must have been felt by those who destroyed several nearby churches, and surrounding neighborhoods must have felt very rewarding. It was all done in the name of expansion, and progress. Yet, after a quarter of a century of excuses, and promises to beautify the complex area the Illinois State Capitol Complex remains a disgrace, and an insult to the people of Springfield, and the entire State of Illinois.

About The Images: All images included in this post were derived from photographs which I captured at the Municipal Parking Garage located at the corner of Fourth, and Washington in downtown Springfield, Illinois.

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