The Guardian

As part of their "Story of Cities" series, The Guardian's feature on Richard Nickel highlights Chicago's continued push for the preservation of historic architecture. Nickel devoted his life to fight to save Louis Sullivan's buildings and postwar urban renewal projects from demolition. In this, he has been compared to New York activist Jane Jacobs. The author of Richard Nickel: Dangerous Years, Richard Cahan, says, “Before Nickel, nobody protested to save buildings because they were artistically significant, they would protest because they were old relics – people like old relics. But Nickel was saying that tearing down these buildings was like tearing apart a Michelangelo sculpture.”

Louis Sullivan, "the father of the skyscraper," designed the Chicago Stock Exchange, which collapsed and crushed Nickel's body as the preservationist scavenged there for any items of significance that could be rescued: "the tragedy 'marked [Nickel] as a sacrifice to art but, even more, a civic offering to the altar of greed.' " His final gesture mirrors much of his early life, spent touring with the U.S. army, photographing architecture across America, and removing pieces of buildings that would soon face destruction. Since his death in 1972, policies have been implemented to protect buildings in the city and tourism of Chicago's historic architecture has grown in popularity. Nickel remains a figurehead for grassroot efforts battling for tighter policies.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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