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Mayor Daley Is Dead

By Kevin Robinson in Miscellaneous on Dec 20, 2006 2:50PM

You may not realize it, but 30 years ago today, Richard J. Daley died, 2006_12_rjdaley.jpgleaving the city without the mayor it had known for nearly a generation, and setting the stage for three terms of political infighting, drama, and chaos in City Hall. The Sun-Times has reprinted the report it published that day in 1976, as well as Mike Royko's column about the man, and the myth.

We here at Chicagoist have taken our jabs at Daley (the younger), and by no means do we agree with a lot of what he has done in the office his father held. But it would be remiss of us not to stop and reflect on what the elder Daley has meant to Chicago, both in life and in death. Richard J. Daley has loomed large over our city, and who we are today is a reflection of what he believed about us — us now, and us our parents and grandparents. Royko said it best, pointing out that Daley has represented both the best, and the worst, our city is:

[L]oyalty to the family, neighbors, old buddies, the corner grocer. You do something for someone, they do something for you. If somebody is sick, you offer the family help. If someone dies, you go to the wake and try to lend comfort. The young don't lip off to the old, everybody cuts his grass, takes care of his property. And don't play your TV too loud. ... [H]e didn't trust outsiders, whether they were long-hairs against war, black preachers against segregation, reformers against his Machine, or community groups against his policies. This was his neighborhood-ward-city-county, and nobody could come in and make noise. He'd call the cops. Which he did.

When you walk down the street today and marvel at the big buildings, the clean streets, the myriad neighborhoods with all their familiarity and character, when you stop to think how great it is that you live in such an amazing city when so many others have gone to hell, and you feel like you are a part of something bigger, more historical and important than where you came from or who you are, remember Boss Daley. In many ways, for better and for worse, it's still his city.