We've been in in Chicago over three months. I've come to identify the city as the most sensational place I've ever been or lived. The city's magnetism as an iconic destination (tourism, filming, money) combined with its geography and architecture creates an overwhelming experience of constant action and interaction. While other cities are similarly busy, Chicago has space created by rivers and Lake Michigan that allows one to step back and admire the diversity and complexity.
Walking east a few blocks, I pass Michigan Ave with its buskers, dancers, and human statues; museums, markets, protest walks, historic buildings, the Water Tower, the Hancock Building, and a couple hundred restaurants before I get to a lake that looks like the ocean. Here, are beaches, beach-front bars, and hundreds of people exercising, playing chess, doing yoga, swimming laps, and enjoying the view.
Walking south I pass the main branch of the Chicago River with its amazing bridges, its kayakers, and architecture tour boats, its barges, and river walk. It's huge buildings and offices with their art installations parks. Eventually I get to Millennium Park
swarming with tourists, full of art, sculpture, and live music of all kinds.
A walk north brings me to the large Lincoln Park and its free zoo, to the bars of Diversey, to Wrigleyville, to Blues Alley, to Boystown, and Chicago's Montrose Dog Beach.
Heading west I run into the north branch of the Chicago River and a number of great parks before getting to West Town, Wicker Park, Logan Square.
All along the way thousands of people are interacting above and below street-level in rooftop bars, multi-level malls, and underground cafes. Chicago streets are stacked in the busiest of areas so a street that takes you across the river also crosses other streets, other happenings, and other views. Movies and commercials are being filmed. Samples are being given away. All types of creativity is used by beggars and panhandlers. At this time of writing, helicopters, jets, and parachuters can be seen or heard roaring over the lake and city during the air and water show. During the week stunts for the film Jupiter Ascending were performed from helicopter over the city. Transformers is filming. A couple weeks ago jet-skis disguised as Fiats were seen "driving" down the river. Earlier in the summer, three men base jumped from Trump Tower and got away without getting caught.
Historic density only complicates each area or intersection. I recently learned that our apartment overlooks the intersection where two gangsters opened fire on the street from a second-story window to assassinate Hymie Weiss. The same intersection is home to the beautiful Holy Name Cathedral.
I'm not saying that Chicago's sensationalism makes me want to live here long-term. There are things I value more than being entertained every time I step outside-- like cost-of-living and quiet. I'm saying Chicago is a neat place. It's worth visiting and living in; especially in the summer. It offers an experience others cities don't have.
Supposedly Chicago slows down a bit in the fall as kids return to
school, summer vacations end, and people are scared away by the cold,
but there are no signs of letting up, yet.