Lollapawinners and Lollapalosers

Today is the day that the 2008 edition of Lollapalooza opens at Grant Park in Chicago.  For this long weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will swarm all over Chicago’s front lawn enjoying food, music, and all the city has to offer.

Of course, this has the grumpy old ladies and NIMBYs who live along the park’s perimeter on edge.  They see Lollapalooza as an invasion of their personal space, even though the park is public property and not their personal domain.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the city gets from Lollapalooza, other than the regular tax money generated by any other concert, we have the answer.

In 2007, Lollapalooza gave $100,000 to Grant Park.  that was used to plant 120 new trees, add new and better landscaping at Hutchison Field, a new garden on the south side of the park near Michigan Avenue, and 75 new shade trees.  In addition, Lollapalooza gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to smaller community parks around the city that would otherwise be neglected.

This year, in addition to the $100k being given to Grant Park, and the $1 million the festival is donating to renovate Buckingham Fountain, $75,000 is being set aside specifically to repair the grass after the festival.

Seems like quite a lot from one event.  By contrast, the Taste of Chicago, a larger, longer event, gives the park exactly $0.

We’ve heard frightened old ladies who watch too much CBS2News say they’re worried about violence at Lollapalooza after the shooting at this year’s Taste of Chicago.  Comparing the two events is the height of folly.

  • Lollapalooza lasts three days.  Taste lasts for weeks.
  • Lollapalooza attracts families.  Taste is open to anyone wandering by.
  • Lollapalooza visitors have to pay $80-$200 to attend.  Tastegoers pay $0.
  • Lollapalooza visitors buy tickets online so the festival knows exactly who will be there.  Taste is open to anyone wandering by.
  • Lollapalooza will have 210,000 people this year. Taste had 1,000,000+ on July 3 alone.
In the past there has been very little crime at Lollapalooza.  The only arrests have been for scalping and gate jumping.  The same cannot be said Taste.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of people who don’t understand Lollapalooza or what it’s about.  I felt the same way first time it was announced, but after seeing the festival and the people it attracts first-hand, this isn’t some meathead concert series.  It’s a family event that’s as much about granola and electric vehicles as it is about getting one’s groove on.
A word of advice to the old ladies out there:  When you let fear win, you’ve lost at life.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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