Today we crank the Wayback Machine back seven years to February 19, 2013. Here we find ourselves at the triangle formed by East Chestnut Street, North Wabash Avenue, and North Rush Street. Better known as Connors Park.
Or at least it was when these pictures were taken. Today it’s mostly known as the location of an Argo Tea house, which you can see in the early days of its construction in these photos.
How this private business landed in such a small public park was simple: As we reported way back then, the city didn’t want to pay to renovate it. So in exchange for renovating the park, Argo was allowed to erect a glassed-in pavilion to sell all things steeped and brewed. At the time, local politicians hailed “public/private partnerships” like this as the future™, and a sign of progress.
Today, we’re happy to have the tea, and a warm place in which to sip it in the winter. But we can’t help but think that something was lost here. We’ve bought Argo everywhere from State and Randolph to gas stations on the west coast, and enjoy the Carolina Honey Tea as much as the next person who just needs a break from all that Starbucks. But sipping tea in this location feels undefinably odd.
Still, if you want to get out of the cold, or just sit by the nice indoor fountain and read a book, you can. Because of its agreement with the city, the tea shop cannot legally kick you out for enjoying the inside without buying anything. That includes using the bathroom.