The Highrise

As I was outside looking for a smidgen of the Northern Lights that they said we might be able to see here in Illinois, my eyes were diverted to the highrise to my left.

The funny thing is we don’t have too many highrises in our Midwestern burg, and this one is spectacular in my view. Over the last year and a half it has become a marker on my daily journey home and a point of wonderment full of made up stories from the ground level view of my driveway.

I first noticed it one day when driving around the neighborhood. I was new and driving around with my grandaughter on a Sunday afternoon was a method of exploration. The nighborhood has an eclectic mix of old statesque homes, new homes and some very 60’s 70’s architecture. It is glorious. As we drive up the hill watching the sunset, I first see it. At first glance, it is totally out of place in our city, it is afterall…12 stories tall. I glance at the white cement exterior graying with time and my first thought is the name Steep Meadow, sounds like Senior Living. It seems dated and slightly worse for wear.

The next awareness was driving home one snowy winter evening and it was dark by then, coming across the I-280 bridge I looked to my left and saw a modern lighthouse summoning me home. Jutting up through the trees at that point in the river it can easily be seen, it is the tallest building on the horizon and right behind my street, I can see it from my living room window.

Fast forward a week or so, outside taking my dog for her walk, when out of the corner of my I notice a glow in the sky, it’s the ember lights of an apartment, high in the sky. And that is how the mystery and love for the highrise began.

You see the apartments are wide open with a windows on all sides, offering (I am sure) a fabulous view of the river from 12 stories up. With it’s massive glassed walls and the golden light that twinkles in the night sky it is a warm, intriguing sight. I think of it like a sentry keeping watch over the trees.

It’s the image of golden light against the night sky that evokes mystery in me. In my imagination in the 60’s it was a swanky place hosting all the hippiest cats in town, parties and shindigs non-stop or maybe it was the place that big business took place, under the cover of dinner followed by the mandatory cigar and whiskey, or perhaps it was just home to families of modern wealth.

The building itself is simply 60’s mod and holds a host of stories within it’s glassed walls and faded nostalgia, another unpreserved piece of the past. I cannot help but wonder who lives there, how long have they lived there, how did they end up in the glass palace, was it as I imagined in the 60’s?

As I delved into the history of the building itself, I discovered that it was one of the 100 unprotected structures in Rock Island, meaning it could be destroyed at any moment in the name of progress. The architectural firm credited for this design is Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill. This building is in good company, the firm also designed the iconic Lever House ( 1952), One Chase Manhattan Plaza (1961), Hancock Center (1969), 555 California Street (1969) Willis Tower (1973) to name drop a few. To say it is good company is an understatement.

I simply love the comfort the old building provides and the curiousity it generates in me. Next time they have an open house in one of the apartments, I will go and take a peek. Until then, this video will have to do.

Until Next Time,