I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I haven't lived there for 15 years, but it is still my home. So when the news came down earlier this month that one of the icons of the Second City's skyline would be changing names from The Sears Tower to Willis Tower I was heartbroken. Once the tallest building in the world, it opened in 1973 (just two years after I was unleashed on the world). The thing is huge! Just a few blocks from the home I grew up in you can see it if it's a clear day...and it's still 25 miles away! You can't just change it's name!
This isn't the first incident like this. There have been several cases of Chicago landmarks going through a name change in recent years. In 2003 Comiskey Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox, was changed to (cough cough sputter) U.S. Cellular Field. Now I've got no problem with corporate naming of stadiums, but when it makes sense, like my current hometown ballclub's home Coors Field. Coors is an important company in the history of the Denver area. Not to mention the fact that, though I don't choose to consume it myself, beer is a staple of the baseball park menu. Our football stadium name, however, the wimp-out...please don't hate us name Invesco Field at Mile High makes no sense at all.
Back to the Windy City, there was then the Marshall Field's incident. On September 9, 2006 the icon of Chicago's State Street became Macy's...yes Macy's. Could there be a greater crime against the city of Chicago? I mean, what do you think of when you hear the name Macy's? New York...the Thanksgiving day parade (speaking of which, am I only person who goes nuts when the folks on TV call it "The Macy's Day Parade," sorry about that one Pilgrims). I mean, what better way to offend a bunch of Chicagoans than to take their hometown store and change it's name to New York's hometown store. No true Chicagoan would shop at Macy's. It was a tradition for most Chicago area kids to go downtown at Christmas time and see the tree and the window displays at Marshall Field's. From what I understand, the Macy's folks have not kept up the tradition well.
And now comes the changing of the Sears Tower. Would anyone dare even suggest changing of the name of The Empire State Building, or even a corporately named New York icon like the Chrysler Building. I seriously doubt it.
Whoever this Willis guy is, someone close to him (Arnold or Mr. Drummond maybe) needs to go slap him in the face and tell him that he's not going to earn a place in the hearts of Chicagoans by doing this. Most Chicagoans, myself included, will continue to call it The Sears Tower.