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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Chicago Trip II: the Distant Sister


We arrived an hour late--by anyone's time--in the Windy City, and right on time for rush hour. Already the similarities between Detroit and Chicago were already taking shape before us. Rush hour here is almost as bad at rush hour at home.

Make no mistake, Chicago has a beauty and mystique that is truly it's own. The sheer number of high rise hotels, apartments, and business towers is staggering--and climbing ever taller, every year. The history behind the city--a series of mishaps, misfortunes, and miscreants looking to make a buck or a thousand--is one-of-a-kind. But in the same token, it was still eerily familiar.

The presence of young and old hipsters, helping to raise the rent, was all around us. The streets and businesses named after states that were not Illinois, were there too. Chicago has it's Ohio. We've got Wyoming, among others. Detroit and Chicago share their talent for making a memorable hot dog, though we did not draw a consensus over which was superior. All for the better. Nick is a man of the moment. In this moment it was the Chicago Dog. In another moment, it would have been the Coney. And Mike had his with ketchup. Nothing else.

And, of course, there is the art as architecture. Now, there is no denying it here: Chicago got us beat. The sheer number of artistic structures that you can find all over this city is ridiculous. The glowing glass block towers and "walk like Jesus" fountain, to the headless men wandering around Lakeshore Dr., to Cloud Gate, otherwise know as the Bean--it was almost overwhelming. One weekend in the city was not enough time to get in all of it.

Still, the Bean is no match for the Spirit of Detroit, who sports a Red Wings jersey during the Stanley Cup. I'd like to see the Bean do that. Or see it try and go a couple rounds with Joe Louis' fist.

And then there was the poverty. 

Chicago is a city of layers, much like the onion it is named after. Layers of roads that cross over other roads, and parking structures so integral to the city you couldn't imagine anything else in its place. And there are layers of garbage, and dirt. Some of it hidden by concrete. Some of it not.

We had the luck of taking the bus tour of the city, which gave us a solid overview of the entire experience. Sears Tower, the Pier, the Chicago Theatre. We got a taste of all things awesome. But in an unexpected stop under the Lakeshore Dr. over pass, where police sirens ground all of us to a halt, we got a taste of somethings else.



In Detroit, we wear our despair on our sleeve. You see the homeless everyday, at every turn. You see their living situations clearly on every drive at eye level; there are fewer dark corners to hide. But it took dumb luck to find this. It reminds you just how hard it is to make it anywhere. And the homeless of Chicago seem particularly hardened.

Still, like Detroit, you move on. The sadness does not get you down when there is so much to do, so much concrete to walk, hot dogs to eat, towers to climb, and history to take in. And I have cataloged most of it in my bachelor weekend in my viewbug portfolio, available here. It is a beautiful city to walk--which we walked roughly 20 miles over the course of two days--and breath taking when you stop and look up. For a big city boy like me, this was one for the bucket list.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table.