Tonight, the world’s eyes turn to Grant Park once again. Many of us who have lived in the Chicago area pass through or near Grant Park without much thought. As host of The Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest, 4th of July, Lollapalooza and many other festivals, Grant Park has become a regional (national?) gathering spot where we mix and mingle with others (mostly in warmer months). Tonight, Grant Park plays host to the Barack Obama rally which brings the city’s native son home after a very long campaign. At this writing, we do not know if this will be a victory party or not.
For the first part of its existence, Grant Park housed squatters, refuse, and railroad lines (see Grant Park from the Encyclopedia of Chicago). Up until tonight, it may be most remembered as the site of the protests and eventual riots in 1968 (see Protesters Gather in Grant Park in 1968). Now, after 40 years, we have to have some pride in the fact that we nominated the first African-American to head a major party presidential ticket. There is something fitting that Grant Park, which hosted riots in 1968, will play host to celebration tonight. (We should celebrate victory or loss.)
This article from Bloomberg news outlines of the issues facing tonight’s rally and contrasts them with 1968: Chicago Girds for Obama’s Rally, Amid Memories of Violent 1968.