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My visit to Chicago
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-07-22 22:38:52 | Chicago, Illinois, United States
Keywords: architecture, skyline
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 University.

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.



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