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Olde Schaumburg Centre: America's Least Impressive Historic District?
I lived in Chicago twice, and Schaumburg is often held up as a prototypically boring, soulless suburb, and I certainly was never aware of the fact that it had a historic district. When I saw the OSC sign, I looked around, but couldn't see anything "olde" at all – just the typical, mundane collection of strip malls that nearly every suburb in America has these days. I parked the car, got my ice cream and then risked my life crossing busy Roselle Road in search of something, anything "olde."
According to a plaque in a man-made lake across a vast parking lot next to the Oberweis, the strip mall dates to 1995. At the rate we're going in this country, with strip malls being built from sea to shining sea, that could practically qualify the place for The National Register of Historic Places.
Outside of major American cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and several others, the whole country might be just one big beige mélange of big box retailers by the time my children retire.
I don't blame local officials in Schaumburg for trying to create a "village center," and the fact that they are paying lip service about creating a "pedestrian orientation" is a good sign. And to be fair, there's a nice park in the area and my kids enjoyed running around the fountain near the lake. But what's the point of trying to market a thoroughly modern suburb as a historic place?