Having lived and worked in Chicago for a couple of years at the turn of the century I decided it was time to return for a trip down memory lane. So my partner and I packed our backs, drove to Heathrow, climbed into an Airbus A380 and about 8 hours later landed at O’Hare airport, slightly worse for wear. New airport are always a bit confusing and it took us a while to find the O’Hare metro station, which is not overly well sign posted, especially if you do not know that you have to take the airport train to change terminals. However, we eventually found it and hopped on a train to Logan Square, where our AirBnB was waiting for us.
The next day we got up reasonably early and headed to Hyde Park and more precisely to the University of Chicago, where I had worked as a postdoc all these years ago. The first thing we did was to check whether the old house where I used to live in had survived. Lo and behold it was still there, although the annex, which I called mine, had disappeared and the house had a serious makeover. To my delight Medicis on 57 had also survived and so I absolutely had to have lunch in there. I am glad to report that, after al these years, their food is still pretty good – I can definitely recommend a visit. Hyde Park has not changed dramatically over the last quarter of the century. Some buildings, like my old department, had been raised to the ground and replaced by something bigger and shinier, some totally new building have sprung up but overall it was still pretty much the Hyde Park I remembered.
After lunch my partner and I wondered around Hyde Park for a little while, taking in the main sites such as the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and the Main Quadrangle, before heading down to Jackson Park for a nice afternoon stroll.
The Wabash Art Corridor
Chicago by Night
Because of my interest in photography, one of the highlights of my trip to Chicago was wandering around the city at sunset and during the night. The Windy City just turns into an absolutely stunning visual sight. On my first night in Chicago my partner and I headed out to the Shedd Aquarium, from where there are beautiful views of the Chicago skyline. Having set up my tripod I started to snap away for a happy couple of hours, the only slight niggle being the wind. The waves were too choppy and hence there was not much light reflecting of the water. Similar good views of the skyline can be obtained from the Navy Pier and the North Avenue Pier. Unfortunately I ran out of nights and did not get a chance to spend some time at the North Avenue Beach in the evening. I guess I will have to return to the Windy City at some stage. The day after we headed to the Cloudbar at 360 Chicago, formerly know as the “Hancock Tower”. My partner and I had booked an early-ish ticket for 7pm, as the admission prices increase for sunset. However, as you can stay as long as you like, we had a couple of drinks and waited for the sun to set. We were rewarded for our patience by a nice sunset and as an extra bonus fireworks went off over Navy Pier at about 9pm.
Next we headed to the Buckingham Fountain for some more evening photography. We arrived just in time for one of the major displays when the center jet shoots water up to a height of 30m. This was accompanied by a nice light show and some rousing, communist-sounding, upbeat classical music. We then headed back home but I could not resist taking some more photos as at night, even such unassuming “subjects” like the Van Buren Metra Station and the CTA Station at Wabash and Adams, turn into very photogenic locations.
My last photo stop on this trip was the Chicago River. Walking along it at night is altogether a different experience from doing the same thing during the day. The views from the various bridges, which are strung along the river, become even more amazing, as all the skyscrapers and highrises erupt in a panoply of lights and the Merchandise Mart turns into the the world’s largest digital display screen every night between 8 and 10pm. There are so many photo opportunities here, that it is difficult to decide where to take pictures from.