In his most famous poem “Chicago“, Carl Sandburg hung a number of sobriquets on this city. However appropriate they were; we discovered a Chicago that Sandburg did not describe!
Several of our friends and family expressed surprise and even concern that we had opted for a month in Chicago for our “Urban Experience”. We will even admit a bit of trepidation as we made our plans for this adventure.Anxiety heightened when we arrived at what would be our home for the next 30 days. A two bedroom apartment on the second floor over a dentist office on West Division Street in “Old Town” Chicago. A grim exterior, a dark and somewhat dingy stairwell of 25 steps, and a rental agent quite dubious. But when we started to meet the warm and friendly people of Chicago, that was quickly abated.
Our best description of Chicago is a very big city made up of very many small towns. During the month we visited we walked just over 6 miles per day exploring and soaking in the culture of the different towns. Often when you cross a street the change is palpable; not only can one see it, one can almost feel it!Our little town was Old Town. This place reminded us so much of Amsterdam. The average age was young. Lots of people commuting on bicycles. sidewalk cafes and coffee shops everywhere. Most of the streets lined with trees.
During the month we saw 7 plays or shows including the famous “Second City Comedy Club” where so many notable comics had their start. Many of these we were able to walk to and upon returning to our apartment we stopped just around the corner at our favorite tavern. This tavern survived through prohibition by selling alcohol for “medicinal purposes only” and is the oldest continuously operating tavern in America owned by the same family. I was intrigued by this door in the tavern which had evidenced numerous hinge and lock changes. At least 5 sets of locks! I feel confident that Elliot Ness and Al Capone walked through this door.We were able to celebrate our 38th anniversary here after dinner at Gibson’s. On one afternoon we spotted an Aston Martin convertible parked outside. But were unable to find James Bond inside. We also celebrated my 69th birthday, one of the best presents was a visit Shelley who flew from Texas to visit old Dad!
Another famous area in Chicago, actually located in the Near North Town where Rush Street converges with State dotted with renown steak houses and high class bars.
This area has earned the title of “The Viagra Triangle” for the large number of older businessmen chasing the much younger lightly clad young ladies that decorate the scene with ample cleavage and beautiful legs.
While I was taking the pictures of this area, I caught the perfect example of how friendly the people of Chicago can be. An older gentleman was attempting to cross State Street at Cedar moving slowly with his cane. A lady hurried across traffic to guide him to safety.We found Chicago to be a warm and friendly city.
Chicago is also a city a great architecture. Known for the Handcock and Willis Towers (Sears Tower); the city is abundant with dazzling structures. There is a great architectural tour that offers views of many of the more prominent buildings while cruising the Chicago River. Two of America’s most famous made Chicago their home; George A Fuller the inventor of the skyscraper and Frank Lloyd Wright.
No visit to Chicago can be complete without saying “Hello” to Sue, the star of the fabulous Field Museum of Natural History. One could spend weeks in Chicago’s museumsThis was one of the few trips we have made in the states without our bicycles but we rent a pair and take the waterfront ride along Lake Michigan
When I first read Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” I thought that the poet was making fun of the city but he deeply admired his adopted city. Karen and I also learned to love this city. As hard as we try to complete bucket list items, we keep discovering more places that we want to go back!