Open Letter to Sara Paretsky

Open Letter to Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky's brilliant Chicago detective

Anticipating their son and grandson's upcoming visit, they sought out the purveyor of tickets for a Chicago River Cruise. On line recommendations were highest for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago's First Lady. By now, two month residents, they had become seasoned commuters, habitues of public transportation. They walked across the street to the sidewalk shelter where the Number 6 Bus picked them up dropped them off at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street. Although a large sign atop a gracefully embellished building identifies it as a railroad consortium of the past, Santa Fe, the street front windows assured them that they had come to the right place. The Architecture Foundation Building has a nicely appointed gift shop toward the entrance, and once they had purchased the tickets they came for, they began browsing. Eager to learn about their new city, she began thumbing through a few of the handsome coffee table volumes invitingly displayed. As he approached her at the book table, a title caught his eye.Neil Harris' Apartment Book "I wonder if our building is in here." CHICAGO APARTMENTS A Century of Lakefront Luxury, by Neil Harris. And there it was: page 48, The Windsor Beach Apartments, 7321 South Shore Drive. At their dining room table, (with an unimpeded lake view), they pored over the book, which had been a bargain at $65.00. Today, a used copy available at is listed at over $500. They learned that the architect of their building, Robert DeGolyer, designed many of the fine co-op apartment buildings on the "Gold Coast": the stretch of elegant residential structures north of the Loop overlooking Lake Michigan. He is, in fact, the architect most often represented in Harris' collection. His designs of spacious living quarters provided such comfort and privacy that Mies van der Rohe decided to remain in his apartment at the DeGolyer designed 200 East Pearson, rather than move into his own Lake Shore Glass House, a few blocks away. Chicago Apartments is prefaced by Sara Paretsky, who wistfully describes her youthful day-dream of living in a luxurious apartment like those in Neil Harris' book. V.I. WarshawskiThe creator of the wonderful V.I. Warshawski, enjoys the experience of moving about in 1920's vintage co-op elegance virtually by having V.I. encounter corrupt and bloated scoundrels in their opulent environment, whose ill-gotten gains have enabled their extravagant life-style. When served some haut-Margaux from the well-stocked cellars of a venal politician or developer or business magnate, she can accept with scorn, so "readers won't guess that in her heart of hearts, she longs to be there." The newsletter for the building, The Windsor Beach Gazette, provided an opportunity to respond to Ms. Paretsky's preface and so, she wrote the following letter:
To: Sara Paretsky
Author:the V.I. Warshawski novels,
and Writing In An Age of Silence Dear Sara, It was with empathy and recognition that I read your preface to Chicago Apartments- A Century of Lakefront Luxury. Somewhat like you, and perhaps V.I., for years I had fantasized living in a spacious and gracious apartment: being solicitously greeted by a uniformed doorman who would lead me through a lobby- elegant in the old-fashioned sense of grand but comfortable- to an elevator that whisked me to my splendid eyrie overlooking the architectural garden of downtown Chicago. Impressed, really intimidated, by the extravagance of my imagining, I assumed that such an idyllic existence was out of reach for the likes of me. Happily, I was mistaken. I now live in a commodious Chicago home in a historic building filled with gracious and delightful people and we are literally living on the lake! Were it not for the internet, I might still be denied the manifestation of my day dreams. I found apartment 9-D, 7321 South Shore Drive while waiting for a buyer for our home in Tacoma, Washington. There is a lovely apartment available in our building. The price is astonishingly low. You will love it. Come and live your dream! Sincerely yours, Mary P.S. On second thought- send V.I. M.

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