My kind of town

Chicago still holds majesty – at least for me.

This was my second trip in as many years for work and trying to add a whirlwind tour of The Windy City, and I love it even more than I did last year.

As last year, I was only in town for a few days for a healthcare conference – more networking and an excuse for adults to act like they are in Animal House than anything else – but I’ve taken advantage of having to be there to get a few limited hours on the town.

Last year, this included meeting up with my cousin and his new bride for sushi (yes, decent, despite being in the center of the continent), time in a real Chicago jazz club, and a run through the famed Field Museum.

This year, I skipped the museums and took one of the famed architectural boat tours up several forks of the Chicago river followed by a trip to the suburb of Oak Park for dinner and conversation with family – and I fell in even more love of this, the third largest metropolis in the United States.

What is the magic it holds over me?

It’s partly my vague memories of visiting family there as a young child – including seeing part of the filming of The Untouchables while in the observation deck of the Sear’s Tower (long since renamed and ousted as world’s tallest building). But I think it’s mostly the combination of history, arts, and sciences.

Chicago’s downtown – everything most people know of as Chicago – started with a few hundred people and turned into the center of manufacturing for the country. It even was the home of mail order catalogs, production of phone books, and (still is) the home of the largest commodities brokering in the US.

Now, the downtown is sky scrapers, million+ dollar condos made from reformed warehouses, toxic water and soil, more public parks than any city I’ve ever visited, and some of the best people-watching I’ve ever experienced.

The architectural tour was the most fun historical tour I’ve taken anywhere, painting a picture I could see of the city’s varied history with prohibition, original gangsters, Irish immigrants (then and now), lessons learned, reform and rebirth from manufacturing to tech and fire to stone.

It’s a fantastic city which I’d recommend even over a visit to Manhattan, though maybe second still to San Francisco/

I look forward to my next visit and hope it is soon. After all, what can be so bad about a city which puts a full-scale replica of a brachiosaurus towering over security in the airport?

General view of part of the South Water street Illinois Central Railroad freight terminal, Chicago, Ill. Photographer: Jack Delano. 1943 April. (http://goo.gl/49C82R)

General view of part of the South Water street Illinois Central Railroad freight terminal, Chicago, Ill. Photographer: Jack Delano. 1943 April. (http://goo.gl/49C82R)

 

One response to “My kind of town

  1. So happy that you ove visiting our town! I’m such a Chicago chauvinist in that I love showing people around my city. I’m born and bred here and have lived her most of my life — and I find that people on both coasts underrate us for no good reason. Hey, we can live with that: we’ll just keep the big secret to ourselves that this is a mighty fine place, despite the fact that politics is a hardball spectator sport here. And if you’d like to know more about what’s fun in and around Chicago (especially if you’re a Route 66 fan), please feel free to visit our blog, CuriousTraveler66, at http://curioustraveler66.wordpress.com — we specialize in stories and posts about Route 66 in metro Chicago. Cheers!

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