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Hospital needs rebirth

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

If there are ghosts at Cook County Hospital, they must be getting stir crazy waiting for the historic building's fate to be decided. Having been saved thus far from County President John Stroger's wrecking ball by political and public pressure, the unique neoclassical structure may or may not live to see the future based on the outcome of a letter to commissioners in which Stroger raises the possibility of preserving the facade but gutting everything else.

That represents a retreat from Stroger's insistence that County had to be torn down, at a cost of somewhere up to $20 million. But it still sounds like a half-measure to us and, we have to think, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recently named the hospital among its 11 most endangered places for 2004. "If preserved and put to new use, the hospital's main building could serve as a stunning centerpiece for a resurgent neighborhood and spark positive economic and cultural effects across the entire West Side of Chicago," says the National Trust. It suggests other ways saving County would "meet a pressing social need, stimulate the area's economy and enrich the property tax rolls." We strongly agree. A healthy rebirth for County is possible if Stroger sees the light.




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