enjoying the foliage

Chi City

Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I got back yesterday night after four fabulous days in Chicago. I stayed with my cousin, who lives downtown in the heart of the West Loop. I can’t upload my pictures yet, but here are some thoughts:

  • Downtown Chicago has awesome street furniture. I know street furniture is a topic of contention in Toronto, and I think the city could learn something from Chicago. The city’s street furniture is streamlined and pretty much free of those ugly ads that are plastered all over Toronto’s huge garbage cans. Of course, I suppose that everything on the street has to be designed to live up to the architecture. In general, everything is really elegant and doesn’t have that trying too hard feeling that Toronto has. The subway entrance shelters are especially pretty. I don’t have pictures and I don’t want to steal, so check out this article in Spacing.
  • The people of Chicago are disturbingly polite. I’ve never met so many nice, nice, NICE people. It wasn’t something I expected in a big city and I was completely overwhelmed by how lovely everyone was in all of the restaurants and stores we went to. Jeez, people of Chicago. Way to make Torontonians look really bad.
  • The food was fabulous. My cousin is especially skilled at picking really excellent restaurants, and she is lucky enough to live in an area that is practically bulging with them. My favorite was Lou Mitchell’s, where we went for breakfast on Sunday morning. I love breakfast, and Lou Mitchell’s was probably the best place to enjoy it. It has a vintage-y diner feel and has been around forever. As soon as you come in, an adorable little old lady gives you a donut hole to munch on as you wait for a table. On the way to your table, they give you a little box of milk duds and you can snack on them while you pick from their huge breakfast menu. I ordered a spinach omelet, which came with actual hash browns (not the nasty McD’s kind) and toast. At the end of the meal they give you a tiny cup of soft serve ice cream. It was delicious and decadent and I thought maybe I could die right there.
  • The multilevel streets in the Loop area are amazing and give the feeling of being in an awesome video game. Downtown Chicago has a handful of double-decked and triple-decked streets. They are surprisingly unchaotic and make for a really visually interesting streetscape. The pedestrian bridges are also all individually lovely in their own right. My favorite was the Madison Avenue biscule bridge:

Chicago feels elegant and sophisticated, but strangely open and welcoming, in a way I haven’t experienced in any city in Canada. I love Canada, but it has a lot of catching up to do. I was disappointed that I didn’t have time to visit the Field Museum and the Art Institute (which is home to American Gothic!), but overall it was a really good trip and has given me another possible city to move to during/after grad school.

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2 Responses to "Chi City"

I didn’t think I liked Chicago but you changed my mind a little.

Hi friend,

Someone brought it to my attention that we have role reversal postings. I just blogged about my adventure in Toronto…and compared it to my home city of Chicago. So funny!


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