|Seeing I was a tourist, a Chicagoan asked me if I liked Chicago. I replied I loved it. He immediately asked back... “More than Montreal?” I paused for a second... and I said “Nope, but close second.” The more I think about it, the more I realize this is true. Before, I would have answered New York City as favourite city in the US... but after this second visit to Windy City, she really blew away the competition away.|
Yet, it's hard for me to say why I like
Chicago that much. Yes, it's a big city, but with still lots of
different neighbourhoods where traditions are rooted. It has a
personality of her own, with its blues, its food, etc.
It's a city that constantly re-invented
herself and didn't let the events or crisis put her down. After the
big fire of 1871, the city was totally rebuilt from ground up. When
the Chicago river carried sicknesses as it was used as sewer, they
reverted its course to bring it away from the city. Traffic was too
congested downtown... they constructed a sub-level under the regular
streets so delivery trucks could use it to bring goods directly to
the basement of the businesses.
The architecture is phenomenal. We all
like New York tall skyscrapers... well, if it's possible, it's
because the steel structured buildings were created in Chicago. Out
of the 8 tallest completed buildings in the US, Chicago and New York
both have 4. Chicago has #1 (Willis Tower), #2 (Trump
International). #5 (Aon Center) and #6 (John Hancock Center). When
the new Freedom Tower is completed in New York City, it will be #1.
Chicago has the privilege to be both a
river city and a coastal city. There's little access to the river
due to the era where it was the sewer and all buildings were
constructed turning their back to the river. But newer constructions
try to give access to the river now. However, the coastal side is
fully opened... it's rare not to have access to the lake, its
marinas, its dozens of kilometres of free public beaches (there are
even sections reserved for dogs). The Michigan lake is so huge it's
often mistaken for an interior sea or an ocean for people who haven't
studied the geography of their destination. You also have large
parks near the coastline.
Chicago's skyline is second to none in
terms of beauty and richness of its architecture. You have tall
black federal buildings, black and white skyscrapers, the red CNA
centre, the yellow triangular state prison right in the middle of
downtown, nice residential triangular building near the Navy Pier,
lots of huge circular structures and incredible glass structures like
the Thompson Centre or the new auditorium of the Roosevelt
I have to mention my ultimate camera
candy... the 'Cloud Gate', a giant shinny metallic sculpture in
Millenium Park. It's always referred to 'The Bean' because of its
shape of a giant Jelly Bean. I could (and I did) spend hours and
hours to take pictures of that thing and never get bored of it.
It's a city extremely easy to walk and
navigate... since each block, in any direction equals 100 in street
numbers. Drivers are very polite and recognize the priority of the
pedestrians. There's also the great subway system.
Weather like, I was finally out of the
heat wave... and it was nice to be below 30 C. Once again, Chicago
has offered me perfect sky to take pictures.
My only regret is not to have stayed a
few extra days... but that's life... I have so many other
destinations to discover. From now on, I'm mostly in unknown
territory, except for a few short stops on the West coast, I never
visited any other location on my path for the next 3 years.