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Harrison Park

Read as part of the closing event for "whatever-is-not-here-present-to-our-senses-now"

an Exhibition by Dave Rueter and Phil Peters @ ACRE Projects, Chicago

February 16, 2014

Harrison Park

I’ve must have seen this place without snow, but it was at night and I do not remember. I was more worried about dropping off my cat at my friend Guy’s house. Much later I walked across the field with Guy to throw out his garbage, but there was snow then too.

What I know. Mayor Harrison was assassinated, by a rival. Two days before the Columbian Exposition closed. It was his 5th term.

The park’s 1st half was built in 1912. It was meant to bring green space to an industrial area.

But that is not the beginning. Let’s begin at the beginning.

It used to be a lime pit.

It was called the Chicago Union Lime Works, and by 1902 they had dug 175 feet into the ground.

They were mining dolomite that was made up of dead things that had been deposited here 400 million or so years ago, when this land was under water near the equator. Somedays I wish it was still near the equator. Chicago needs a bath and I am cold.

They dug it all out, the dolomite. It was strong, but fractured.

So, they used explosives to mine it and carried it out with wheelbarrows. and it built roads and buildings and maybe even fed plants.

The park, the first park, named for the dead mayor.

It had a natatorium, which is a building that houses a pool all to itself,

that’s now the museum.

The other half was a garbage pit until 1950. Because nothing says enjoy the green space like a 175 foot deep hole of garbage.

They estimate over 500,000 cubic yards of trash were turned into a playing field in 1950. Someone in the 1950s said if you took a core sample you would find socks. But I don’t know if that was true.

I read about the socks in an artist’s book by a woman who’s cat I once babysat by proxy. It’s funny how ideas and interests float around places and are discovered and lost and rediscovered. The book was in a show curated by a woman, whose name and interests are very like my own.

I wonder if the overlap of interests has anything to do with alphabetical seating.

This park has always been for the workers. This neighborhood has always been filled with workers.

In the middle of the 19th c Germans settled both in Chicago, IL and Aguascalientes, MXI wonder if any of them were related.

Rick Bayless says this neighborhood has “authentic” Mexican food. I used to live in Aguas and still haven’t found decent Tacos Dorados here. I worry about the validity of Rick Bayless’s opinions.

The 1st to enjoy this park were Czech, who left their churches. I don’t think there is enough open land for new architecture. I wonder what will be left when someone else comes.

Now the beginning is over and this is the end.

And in the end we are standing on land that was once underwater and once a hole and once a garbage pit of socks that had a pool that now has a dumpster and a museum which is within walking distance to food that has been described by a celebrity chef to be authentic that is very near the place I take my cat when I go out of town, who’s waste has been disposed of here.

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 Sarah Knudtson