Saturday, 2 November 2013

Chicago, my kinda town fo showa

There are times when, America, you are awful, but I like you (apologies to Dick Emery). Chicago is an impressive city, impressive enough to equal New York, certainly noisy enough. Our apartment was placed next to the Chicago Fire Department, and didn't we know it. All day and all night sirens wailed along the streets below, each day a new, impossible caterwauling contributing to the cacophony of city sound. You get used to it, and begin to listen out for the different tones. Despite this, it's hard not to love the wide avenues and cultured public spaces of this lakeside city.
Beaches sweep impressively beyond the freeway, the skyline gleams behind in the autumn sun. The architecture is stunning, old houses crouch between the skyscrapers, but unlike New York, there is space, room to manoeuvre.
The natives are freindly in a genuine un-American way, perhaps it's their proximity to Canada. The city is a place of innovation and inventors, built on reclaimed swamp land in the 1830's, the local indians used to call it Chica-gee (smelly onion). There is a waft of garlic bread on some street corners, (the best to be found anywhere is at Michael Jordans steakhouse in the gorgeous Interconintental Hotel)or delicious cocoa from the chocolate factory. Spectacular design and grand art abound, The Art Institute houses the largest collection of French Impressionists outside the Louvre.
Navy Pier is the site of the first Ferris wheel, three times larger than the one that exists there now, built for the world exposition in 1893, the baskets were railway carriages.
The city snakes and layers with overhead railways and sunken roads, skyscrapers built on stilts. It is Gotham - Batman was filmed there. A magnificent city with too few centre bookshops but glamorous shops on North Michigan Avenue, great libraries, galleries and art, gentle gorillas in the free zoo at Lincoln Park, soulful music at the House of Blues and deep pan pizzas like pillows. Worth a trip.

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