Fighting ignorance since 1973 Its taking longer than we thought
Why are people still so upset about
stuff that's gone" thread on the
Dope Chicago Message Board, more than one poster mentioned
It's been four years, and people are still writing letters to the
Tribune wishing the Macy's company a
slow and painful death. Occasionally, people even picket the State Street
Macy's, apparently trying to get them to change the name back to Field's.
Macy's management undoubtedly has wondered the same thing. Although they claim to be resigned to it, even now I'm sure the thought crosses their minds: won't these people ever give up?
Personally I'm ambivalent about this renaming business and I say this as someone who's done his share of Macy's bashing. Other than the name, as you point out, nothing substantive has changed. At the time of the 2005 takeover, Marshall Field's hadn't been owned locally in years. (To correct you, the Field family hadn't owned a significant piece of the company since the 1960s, and no Field had run it in a century.) Macy's retained many of Field's signature symbols, down to the MARSHALL FIELD AND COMPANY plaques on the State Street store's facade, as required by the building's landmark status. For all the complaining you hear, you'd be hard put to claim Macy's has run the place into the ground when I visited a week before Christmas, the State Street store looked as bright and bustling as ever. Looking at the thing rationally, I ought to acknowledge reality and accept that Field's is a thing of the past.
I can't do it. "Macy's on State" just sticks in the craw.
A lot of people in Chicago feel that way. What's surprising is they still feel that way after four years. I had a long talk with Jim McKay, co-organizer of FieldsFansChicago.org, which continues to demonstrate and protest, hand out buttons and leaflets, and run a website and blog. I asked the obvious questions: why persist? What do you hope to accomplish? Why not just move on?
"It's not lost on me that there are more important issues," he said. He acknowledged that Terry Lundgren, Macy's president, CEO and chairman, was never going to budge. "We look at the potential for new owners. We think of ourselves as a brand life-support system."
You have to admire this, up to a point. On the other hand, some southerners have never accepted that the Civil War's over and they lost.
We talked about what accounted for the enduring loyalty of Field's supporters. At first McKay spoke in general terms about the importance of Field's as a cultural institution, but when pressed conceded, "It's all about the State Street store." My thought exactly. Designed in stages by Daniel Burnham and his associates and successors and designated a national historic landmark in 1979, it's one of the great retail emporiums, at two million square feet second only to Macy's flagship Herald Square store in size. The big clocks, the Tiffany ceiling, the Walnut Room they don't make 'em like that anymore, and they didn't make many of 'em like that back then. To address your point, Wheelz, it's one thing to reflag a branch in a suburban mall. But rebranding the State Street venue, and what's worse, giving it the name of a store prominently identified with another city but otherwise considered ordinaryplease. When a New York hedge fund buys Chicago and renames it Jersey City West, people are going to be pissed.
All that having been said, we need to face some facts:
What's done is done. I understand that. "Macy's on State" still makes me gag.
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