Chicago’s First Lady: Maggie Daley on the Move

FROM OUR APRIL 1994 ISSUE: With good works and a deft political touch, Maggie has quietly carved a special role for herself. Now, the departure from Bridgeport has put her in the spotlight, and she doesn’t like being there.

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“Why should [Maggie] be confined to living in a bungalow two blocks from a strip like Morgan, where gangs are hanging out all day and night?” asks John Kass. “And the Bridgeport hat is in people’s minds, in terms of the political myth, is not the reality. So who can blame anybody for moving?”

Aside from the adverse reaction that radio gabbers Ed Vrdolyak and Ty Wansley received on their WLS call-in show the day of the move, most people in Bridgeport and elsewhere seem to be perfectly willing to let the Daleys live where they please. The zone of privacy Maggie had established around the family may have helped mute the reaction; even though she was widely seen as behind the move, few people faulted her for rearranging tradition. That’s a relief to at least one other first lady. “I hope that that the role of the political spouse is changing so that spouses feel real freedom to be themselves,” says Brenda Edgar, the wife of Governor Jim Edgar. “I hope as we move forward, that just because a man or woman is in politics the person they’re married to doesn’t feel required to fit into a certain mold that they think the public might expect.”

Although the Daleys looked at houses in Hyde Park (Maggie has friends there and is said to have liked the area), the home they settled on is in the new $3-billion Central Station development south of the Loop, in a neighborhood where there was no neighborhood before. They chose a townhouse in the Burnham Place section costing around $400,000. The development is in the shadow of warehouses and burned-out buildings but only blocks away from Lake Shore Drive and the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

The developers of Central Station, a city within a city, plan to have commercial, residential, hotel, trade, and retail facilities all in one cohesive community. Though the development is considered a financial success and gets generally marks from architecture critics, Kass likens it to a medieval fortress. Indeed the brick buildings make a virtually solid wall around the interior section of the development. “It’s about keeping what’s outside, outside,” Kass says.

Although there is not a tavern at Central Station yet, there certainly will be—possibly a neighborhood spot, but more likely a bar in one of the hotels. Chances are, it’ll be slicked up with ferns and mirrors and shiny surfaces. Even if the developers try to copy Schaller’s Pump wood panel by wood panel, it won’t be like Schaller’s Pump. Gerald would never fit in, and you can be sure that the martinis there will cost more than $2.25—even without olives.



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