Leaving Chicago for New York City is bittersweet, for all the promise of the big Apple (and I am sure it will deliver) these last three days in the Windy City have left a definite impression in my memory.
True enough, three full days in downtown anywhere makes for a dubious summary of a city that is so much more than Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier. However, it is through such limits that the great sultry mass of our species live, and love, and make meaning while they can. So if I may be permitted to draw conclusions from hastily drawn qualitative evidence, as subjective as the weather (some were wearing shorts as my fingers froze to my camera!) then I submit that Chicago is well worth visiting as the substance of a holiday — not just a tertiary destination.
In November 2011 I was flying through the night from Los Angeles to New York, and watching the pools of darkness that defines the Midwest after sundown with occasional islands of light marking towns I couldn’t locate on a map if I tried. A large puddle of glowing cityscape showed in the distance, much bigger than the others and cut with a curling edge of black on one side. The curling edge must be Lake Michigan, and the city therefore Chicago! The map feature on the entertainment screen confirmed it, and I managed to catch the grainy, piss-poor photo below.
Until last Saturday that was the closest I had ever been to Chicago. Thats what makes the next photo so significant to me, because I waited nearly five years to take it.
I enjoyed the calmness of the people, who moved with an unexpected patience, and often returned a smile. If there is something pernicious in the Chicago character I did not find it. In many ways I was reminded of Melbourne, Australia; the brickwork, the skyline, and the weather being the most ringing comparisons — I was frozen, sunburned, and frozen again — but also the greenery, the river, and the big ferris wheel coloured the similarity.
The food is nourishing to tongues accustomed to spiciness and full flavours, the deep-dish pizza a quintessential bit of cuisine that is as rightly famous as it is delicious.
Gino’s is the place to get it, an eatery decorated with the thousands of scrawled signatures of patrons climbing the walls. I didn’t actually get a good photo of the establishment, but the two photos below of famous Chicago characters hopefully give some idea.
I haven’t written about the Chicago Art Institute! I’ll have to save it for another post because the plane has just landed.
So farewell for now Chicago, I will not hesitate to return if the opportunity presents itself.
New York awaits…
…to be continued.