Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Chicago

Okay, secrecy over, I'm actually in Chicago, the city of skyscrapers and the El (the elevated subway tracks). And of course diversity.

The people of Chicago originate from all over the world. They've been coming here from other countries literally for centuries, since Chicago has always been one of the most prosperous American cities.

It feels great to wander the (very hot) streets with such a global pot-pourri, all energetically making their way in this bustling city. Every other person seems to be speaking Spanish, and a hundred cultures make themselves felt.

Most of the time this eclectic mix of people have co-existed quite harmoniously. There have been occasional flare-ups, like the burning and looting of white-owned businesses by angry blacks after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. But in general there's a feeling of acceptance, goodwill and openness.

Chicago is also an inventive city. It created zippers, mail-order, TV remote-control, the birth-control pill, nuclear fission, the Ferris Wheel, and of course bigger and better skyscrapers.

It's always attracted people with unconventional minds who could see better ways of doing things and were given the chance to try them out.

Though some things seem to have escaped their attention. The subway system is still run-down and exasperatingly slow. It took me a good hour to get from O'Hare Airport to the city centre, a journey of about 12 miles. And naturally I had to contend with the customary lunatic screaming inanely about black bitches.

But one thing they do well is local history. The Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park is a mine of information on how the city began, how it developed, the disasters it had to cope with (like the Great Fire of 1871 that destroyed 17000 buildings), and how it has constantly reinvented itself.

Its citizens certainly seem proud of their adventurous and exuberant city.

18 comments:

Thriftcriminal said...

Chicago's a great spot, check out Sue (the T-Rex) in the Fields museum, and the Shedd Aquarium beside it. Deep pan pizza is nice, but order a small one 'cos they fill you up big time. Then there's the Sears tower, no longer the highest, but cool all the same. And the mad gothicness of the Chicago Times (I think) building downtown, it looks like something straight out of Gotham!

Aidan said...

Nick, you should check out some of the Polish food while you are there. Chicago is the biggest Polish city outside of Poland. My company's US HQ is there and I was over last year but never made it downtown due to the timetable. Next time hopefully. I hope that you post more about your trip! Enjoy the rest of your break.

Grannymar said...

Enjoy your break and give us some more.

Dave Hampton said...

I grew up north of Chicago: it's a wonderful big city. Visit Navy Pier if there is a festival, and make time for the lakefront. Enjoy a 'chicago-style' pizza, absolutely, and ride the 'L'. Go to a Cubs baseball game (even though I was a White Sox fan), and to the Museum of Science and Industry to go through the coal mine and the U-505.

Los Angelista said...

Isn't it the best!!! I'm so glad you're having such a good time in my hometown! (I am, too!) Definitely eat the pizza. Nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Baino said...

Aww and there I was thinking you were sailing in the Hamptons! Sounds great. My father used to do business there quite a lot and liked it very much. Never been myself . . ooh T Rex. . .I like dinosaurs.

Nick said...

Thrifty - Went to Shedd Aquarium but it was very crowded and hard to see anything properly. Also went up John Hancock Center - breathtaking views!

Aidan - Didn't know about the Poles and haven't seen any Polish food but will keep an eye out.

Grannymar - Will do!

Dave - Went to Navy Pier and Museum of Stained Glass. Some great beaches on the lakeshore. Have had some fantastic pizza. But no interest in baseball, sorry!

Liz - The atmosphere is great. Jenny and I haven't felt the least bit threatened or insecure anywhere. Went to the AfroAmerican History Museum today - interesting but not enough about AAs in Chicago.

Baino - Voluptua had to cancel at the last moment, something about a major modelling gig for Armani. You'd like it here, it's kind of cosy. And temperature today is 90!

We've also been to the Art Institute of Chicago which has some fabulous art. But we're moving on tomorrow....

Quickroute said...

The first time I visited Chicago it was covered in fog for 3 days and I couldn't even see the Sears tower. I doubt you're having the same problem - Enjoy!

Nick said...

Quicky - There was a bit of mist around the skyscraper tops one morning but apart from that it's been crystal clear. And hardly a drop of rain except a huge thunderstorm as my plane landed on Thursday.

Fate's Granddaughter said...

Ashamed to say I have never made it to Chicago, in spite of it being a not-too-long flight from my hometown. Oh, what an East coast girl I have always been...

I do love walking through a city and seeing such a range of people. Sometimes Belfast feels so monochrome to me!

Medbh said...

I adore Chicago. Emilio's Tapas at the corner of Clark and Fullerton is one of my favorite restaurants. The art museum rocks.

Caro said...

I love Chicago, I spent three months working there on J1 visa and have many happy memories. You've just missed the Taste of Chicago which is a pity, but there's tons to see and do.

GayƩ Terzioglu said...

I was in Chicago looooong time ago, May 1994 it was and I was working as a translator / interpreter with a group of Turkish teachers on study tour. They toured the US and I with them. Although I was in Chicago only for 4 days, I loved every minute of it. I can only imagine it would be even busier and have more people 14 years later. Hope you are enjoying your holiday. Safe trip back.
G

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Welcome to America!

Chicago is an amazing city, and I hope you enjoy your visit there.

Wisewebwoman said...

AH Chicago, Nick. I was only there once and driving and it seemed like every road was under construction. I absolutely adored the lake though ;^) I find it a more 'American' city than NY.
You and Jennny enjoy yourselves, ya heah?
XO
WWW

Nick said...

FG - You should definitely visit Chicago. You'd love it! Very laid back, very welcoming.

Medbh - Didn't make it to Emilio's Tapas, but the Art Institute certainly rocks!

Caro - We had a fantastic time. We've now moved on to Secret City Number Two. Next instalment to follow!

Gaye - It's not that busy, it's still a relatively small and stress-free city (less than 3 million people).

Heart - We've been to the States before - to New York and Boston in 1996. We've also been to Canada twice.

WWW - The great thing about the lake is all the beaches. Not that we sat on one, we're not really beach bums!

Sorry, but you lot are going to have to wait a while for the next holiday report. This hotel doesn't have free internet access! But I'll be watching for more comments!

Los Angelista said...

I'm glad you had such a lovely time in the Chi! Secret city number two? Can't wait!

Nick said...

Liz - I might be able to put you out of your agony soon! Watch this space!