Bradbury East and West

More than one place lays claim to being Ray Bradbury’s home town, somewhat like the poet Homer.

Over 100 proposals for a statue of Ray Bradbury have been submitted to a Waukegan Public Library-led committee gathering ideas for a memorial to honor their native son.

Locations under consideration include the library’s courtyard along County Street and Ray Bradbury Park

Library Executive Director Richard Lee has not set a definite timeline for action. He issued a statement saying the group is “trying to figure out what Ray Bradbury means to people. What should we highlight? We’re looking for ways to highlight his limitless imagination, his creativity and his timelessness.”

Fundraising has begun, although the target amount has yet to be determined.

Ray Bradbury Park sign

Meanwhile, writer Colin Marshall recalls Bradbury’s visionary plan to redesign Los Angeles

Most of Ray Bradbury’s fans think of him first as a science-fiction writer, but I think of him as a fellow Angeleno. Though born in Waukegan, Illinois, the man who would write The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 moved with his family to Los Angeles as a teenager in 1934. Just as he used his imagination to envision the futures in which he set many of his stories, he also used it to envision the future of his adopted hometown.

“Gathering and staring is one of the great pastimes in the countries of the world,” Bradbury wrote in a 1970 article called “The Small-Town Plaza: What Life Is All About.” “But not in Los Angeles. We have forgotten how to gather. So we have forgotten how to stare. And we forgot not because we wanted to, but because, by fluke or plan, we were pushed off the familiar sidewalks or banned from the old places. Change crept up on us as we slept. We are lemmings in slow motion now, with nowhere to go.”


Plaque commemorating Ray Bradbury's use of Typing Room at UCLA's Powell Library to write Fahrenheit 451.

Plaque commemorating Ray Bradbury’s use of Typing Room at UCLA’s Powell Library to write Fahrenheit 451.

3 thoughts on “Bradbury East and West

  1. How lovely to bring the poet Homer into the picture. I wonder has any American city been more cherished by a writer than Waukegan by Ray Bradbury. I think it is good for them and for all of us for there to be a statue of Ray there, of course. This is a beautiful idea. Personally I hope they will put it in the lovely park near his childhood home that they have named after him.

    Still one cannot help but wonder what is their thinking about a museum which Sam Weller especially has been so vocal about.

    I can imagine a beautiful museum chock full of Ray artifacts spilling out of drawers and shelves, in glass cases shining and done with great imagination and if his grandparent’s home in Waukegan cannot come up for sale on this now perhaps at a later date?

    According to Sam this was one of Ray’s deepest and most consistent wishes to purchase the grandparents home in Waukegan for such a purpose. Surely it would be a boost for Waukegan not only spiritually and emotionally but, come on, people would come not only from all over America, but from all over the world to see it if it were done right. Perhaps they do not want the world tromping in and out of their village, but then, did they love Ray as much as he loved them?

    I do believe they did. I do believe with all my heart that there must, there will be this museum, no matter how long it takes. The children and the children’s children deserve it.

    Whatever their conclusions about a statue of Ray surely Waukegan must now that Ray wanted a museum in his grandparent’s home. This has been clearly stated again and again. I pray they look into their hearts a little and demonstrate faith in this as Ray demonstratedd in all he wrote and in even daring to be a writer in the first place. Vision first, means to the vision comes afterwards.

    Envision a museum… and pray.

  2. Articles of Ray’s on urban planning, such as this one, are what inspired the architect Jon Jerde (who passed away a few weeks back) to make sure his shopping mall designs included food courts. The food courts were thought to be Ray’s inspiration as substitutes for a town square in an ever expanding urban environment. Before this food vendors would be interspersed in the mall so when people felt hungry they grab a bite of whatever was nearby.

    The first of these malls is the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, CA. Jerde & Ray once drove to the mall and Jon proclaimed to Ray, “How do you like your mall?”

    Being that this is the first mall in America with a food court the developer and the architect would meet at a fancy table cloth restaurant to decide the food mix to be offered. At that time, they realized there was no national Chinese food vendor. They approached the owner of this restaurant, the Panda Inn, about doing a mall style eatery. He said yes, and thus was born the first Panda Express.

  3. A hundred proposals for statues of Ray? Like the Chairman said, let a hundred flowers bloom!

    There’s been a vogue for installing dozens of copies of a fiberglass animal all over a city, and inviting artists to paint each one differently.

    Call up the firm that makes these and order up a hundred Ray Bradburys, for street corners all over Waukegan. I’m sure the talented people of his hometown can come up with a dazzling collection of motifs. We’ll call the project “The Illustrated Ray!”

    Imagine Fahrenheit Ray. Dandelion Ray. Martian Ray. Golden Apples Ray. And, of course, I Sing The Ray Electric!

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