Blair Kamin’s “activism” is carefully modulated and deeply liberal in that it wants to preserve the status quo—in this case, a beautiful city skyline.

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, or as it’s more widely known, the Chicago Bean. Courtesy Lee Bey

By the time I got to the last essay in Blair Kamin’s latest collection of his Chicago Tribune columns as the paper’s architecture critic, I wondered if he and I lived in the same city. Or read the same newspapers, even his own. For instance, he writes rather lightly about various tax increment financing– funded projects, barely noting that they are widely criticized (the Reader’s Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke have critically written about them for years, to wide acclaim) and even the conservative Tribune finally editorialized in 2019 that TIFs need at least a major “rethinking” because they have not been beneficial to the neighborhood forced to fund them. Elsewhere, he lauds former mayor Rahm Emanuel’s devotion to transit, pointing to the renovation of various Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) stations starting in 2012. This is inarguably bullshit: I lived near two of the “renovated” …

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