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  • Rainy Days and Mondays.....wait...that's been used before. Anyway, it's Thursday.

    Okay, do-over! So I had to get out of the house and do a little shopping anyway. Found what I needed at the first store, treated myself to a bag of licorice snacks (I get a sugar "jones" once in a while), and decided to take a drive down to the Riverfront to see what was happening. Parked down at the far end, and right across from the Gateway building, I looked over at the giant parking deck behind the Caterpillar World Headquarters. The lines and reflections just begged to be photographed.
  • Here is the Gateway Building, a beautiful piece of art designed as a rental facility for Peoria City, now on the auction block since the bureaucracy in Peoria has the thing so expensive and limited that Embassy Suites across the river in East Peoria is whomping our butts in the convention and activities calendar. It seems every time we get a half decent idea here in Peoria, our City Council manages to make a mess of it. Sigh!
  • The Grand Entrance of the Gateway Building, and as you can see, not even ten years old. What a pity.
  • The View of the River from the arch of the Gateway Building. Pretty view, actually, even in the rain. The bridge is the McCluggage Bridge, which connects I-74 across the Illinois River to East Peoria.
  • One of several sculptures that was commissioned by the City of Peoria when the Riverfront Redevelopment Project was being done. No identifying marks, but I believe it is supposed to be some sort of modern Sundial.
  • View of the same sculpture from the front. Notice the hole at the top to admit sunlight....or maybe to prevent the thing from holding rainwater. Haven't a clue. I believe stainless steel looks much better in the kitchen, at least better than this.
  • Now this one makes sense. It's a propeller from one of the retired steamboats that used to run up and down the Illinois back in the 1800's. The plaque commemorates all the riverboat captains and crews who spent their lives making commerce and growth possible.
  • Three different views of another sculpture located behind the Peoria Visitor's Bureau. I am thinking the artist was trying to represent all the various elements that went into the building of Peoria over the decades. Hope you can make it out, because it is a very busy sculpture. Again, more stainless steel, which in this case makes sense.
  • Now, to tell you the absolute truth, I haven't a clue as to what this is supposed to be. No plaque, so no clue who made it or what the title is. Guess we're supposed to figure it out for ourselves. This is actually on Water Street, down at the far end of the Riverfront, in front of some reclaimed buildings that used to belong to the breweries back before prohibition. Not sure which one, there were a lot back then, including Hiram Walker, Pabst, and several other manufacturers of fine distilled products.
  • Now across the street is our latest albatross, the Peoria Riverfront Museum. This entire block used to belong to Sears Roebuck, Inc., long before K-Mart got their hands on them. (Or was it the other way around, I forget.) Anyway, this was supposed to bring in all sorts of money from East Peoria Convention business and the Pair-a-dice Riverboat Casino, also in East Peoria. Special thanks to the City Council and the Diocese of Peoria for saving us from having a gambling boat in the city where the number one tourist attraction is Big Al's Strip Club. We sure didn't need all that revenue and all those jobs!

    The Peoria Riverfront Museum is currently over six months late in delivering its financial reports to the city. Seems they are pretty lackadaisical down there about their reporting....or they haven't the heart to admit they are losing money at a very substantial rate.
  • More sculpture, another abstract, and supposed to represent a Phoenix-like rebirth of the city? Oh well, who knows.
  • Now this one was moved from the intersection of War Memorial Drive and Knoxville down to the Riverfront right after the architectural firm of Phillip Swager and Associated finished their remodeling of another brewery into condos with office space on the bottom two floors. It is supposed to represent the joining of cultures between our sister city in German and Peoria. I think the waves on the top are supposed to be the ocean. Hmmm. Could be.
  • Side and front views of another sculpture. No plaque, not a clue. Anyone?
  • Now this brings back some wonderful memories. Across the street from the museum is River Station, the former Peoria passenger train station that has since known life as home to several eateries and a couple of upscale bars. When I first moved back to Peoria in 1990, this was my favorite place to dine. The service was impeccable, the food delicious, and the ambiance superb. And then the City of Peoria decided to improve the riverfront by adding metered parking. The owner refused to participate and promptly closed down his restaurant. Another restaurant, Tilley's, moved in, not quite up to the standard of the former, but tolerable, until there was a kitchen fire and the owner was unable to rebuild...or decided that scraping by trying to run a restaurant was less desirable than investing the money elsewhere. I understand he is doing fine in Indianapolis.
  • More stainless steel used as a bridge across the railroad track to the deck of the Riverfront Commercial Deck on the waterfront. There have been several upscale restaurants blossom and die up there, but Joe's Crab Shack is still in business. So much for luring the tourist business over to Peoria from the Casino.
  • So why all this grousing and complaining and bitching about Peoria? Hey, it's a rainy day, and I've got nothing better to do.

    Seriously, I have never seen a more screwed up city than Peoria, Illinois when it comes to city government. You would think with the massive investments they have made we would be making a few bucks here and there, but Noooooooo. Every time these folks get the chance to do something right, they drop the ball mid-court and lose the game.

    I'm frankly surprised Caterpillar hasn't made good on their threat and relocated to another city. Since they represent about a third of the revenue in the area, it would be the final nail in the coffin.

    How much power does Caterpillar hold? That museum we spoke of? A third of it is owned by Caterpillar. They are by far the largest corporate building in town, and employ about a quarter of the population, either in their corporate headquarters or in one of the several manufacturing facilities in the area. We also are the home of Bradley University, a well known private institution for engineering and financial studies. Caterpillar owns a building there as well. A Global Communications Center.

    Caterpillar seems to swim upstream. As many businesses and manufacturers flounder, they continue to post record profits.

    Maybe we should fire the City Council and let Caterpillar run Peoria?

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