Musings On Chicago.
(Picture from National Geographic)
I’ve lived on the East Coast for my whole life, but I liked Chicago more than any city here except for NYC. It’s fun, approachable, and merges art and business masterfully. Plus you can actually live there comfortably. My friend rents a gorgeous apartment near Andersonville. It’s four blocks from the lake and two blocks from the metra and costs a little over $800 a month. I don’t know if you could find an apartment near Georgetown Waterfront for double that. The sand was imported to the lake so it felt a little phony, but it was still really clean and beautiful. I liked swimming in Lake Michigan because there are oceanlike waves but no malevolent things like sharks or piranhas lurking around.
The neighborhoods are distinct and fairly small, so the North End didn’t feel like a big city. People like to say that it’s “distinctly American,” but I don’t really know how to gauge that since I’ve never been outside the USA. I can say that Brittney’s area felt suburban: there were car shops next to bars next to empty buildings next to kung fu studios next to ice cream parlors, and you could drive down the street as easily as you could take the bus. I found the lax planning comforting in this context. You can tell that Chicago and its neighborhoods developed organically as opposed to being orchestrated and hyperdeveloped.
I saw an exhibit called “Impressionism and Fashion” at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was amazing because the clothes were shown in such spectacular detail, and many were painted in Paris, the fashion capital of the world at the time. Unfortunately they didn’t allow pictures, but I also got to see the full collection of views from Mt. Fuji from Katsushika Hokusai. Here’s a few highlights:
I also recommend the Thorne Miniature Rooms exhibit. It’s a series of tiny rooms based on different historical periods and places, commissioned by Narcissa Thorne. Check it out:
Then I went to Lincoln Park Zoo and saw this amphibian:
and this pygmy hippopotamus:
Chicago maintains its history as well as any evolving thing can. Andersonville was mostly populated with Swedish settlers, and there’s a Swedish-American museum in the heart of it. (I recommend the exhibit about the Sami, a tribe of reindeer-herders. I asked if they still make a living this way and was told that it’s similar to how many people in some rural Scandinavian areas, like the Faroe Islands, work as fishermen.) Andersonville even has an old-fashioned Swedish bakery, where I bought an almond, strawberry jelly, and chocolate tart shaped like a heart. I wish I could have posted it in retaliation to all of the cake/candy/tart/beer pictures on Facebook, but I ate it too fast to think about that. And it was delicious.
So yeah, Chicago is a fantastic city and I look forward to going there again!