Chicago Northside: Blowing Away the Windy City Stereotypes
Chicago. Is it all that windy? Your weather can be intolerable at times, but not the diversity of your neighborhoods. In this edition we take a focused look at the parts of the city where people can’t figure out where to go… we know how complicated the diagonal avenues make for navigating.
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More on Chicago from Chief of Content Trevor Felch:
Any resident or visitor to Chicago knows that the Windy City isn’t second to anyone (Go Blackhawks! Cubs…more like 32nd each year). Seriously, how can you not win the gold (coast) if President Obama and Oprah call your city home? The old Midwest stockyards and railroad town is as grand and sophisticated as New York, and complex and sprawling as Los Angeles. The Loop at lunch time might feel like any old Financial District and a summer day playing volleyball at the Lake Michigan beaches can seem California. That’s about where the comparisons end. Don’t let anyone tell you that Chicago plays second fiddle to any of the coastal big boys. They’ll say there’s no visual or performing arts scene, no natural beauty, no traffic, and nothing to eat besides gigantic steaks at Gibson’s and Morton’s, and the signature trifecta of Italian beef, deep dish, and hot dogs (ketchup strictly forbidden), right?
Sure and you can count on an on time flight at ORD.
Fulton Market’s old slaughterhouses now are home to chic dining hot spots serving quinoa and poached halibut and what is literally the NEXT big thing in the culture of dining out. Any conversation about the national arts scene must include Steppenwolf, Second City, and the Art Institute. The architecture of Chicago, from Burnham to Sullivan, speaks for itself. Just stand on the Michigan Ave. bridge and look around. It’s downright grand, evoking a European’s capitals most handsome plaza. There’s a reason the Chicago River Architecture Cruise is way more than the name suggests. Out west in Oak Park or down south at Robie House, some guy named Frank Lloyd Wright left his unmistakable mark. Sometimes it seems this city and many of its outlying areas were one big design school project.
O.K., except the Stalin communist architecture eyesore known as the Merchandise Mart.
The north-south green duo of Lincoln Park and Grant along the lakefront is a treasure of environmental city planning. At least they’re green half the year. There are more than one magnificent miles around, though only one boasts sidewalks as wide as its accompanying vast avenue. Many miles aren’t so magnificent either. Chicago’s problems aren’t just being next to Northwest Indiana. Being in the Midwest, the rest of the country imagines Chicago as the capital of Americana. From Pilsen’s Mexican population to Little Vietnam in Uptown, there is tremendous diversity up and down, east and west.
The Daley Machine isn’t in power anymore. Al Capone isn’t either. The weather? Chicago won’t win any awards in that either -20 wind chill or absurd humid thunderstorm department.
Of our first 10 maps, no city has excited me more than this one. Having just spent two weeks in the city and consulting with several locals who’ve lived in Chicago all their lives or barely a year, we’ve discovered a Chicago really having its moment. A super city that even has its own super station. I’m not talking about Union Station. Mapping such a vast city isn’t easy. Fortunately our local experts, research of the city’s on the ground media, and personal experiences have put our pulse better on the wide-ranging neighborhoods over central Chicago.
The healthy discussions will continue about the differences of Wicker Park and Bucktown is Streeterville becoming part of The Gold Coast? For me, there is nothing quite like The Loop. I’m no shopper or financial titan either. It’s just endlessly fascinating to even think about the concept of the commercial district literally wrapped by the elevated subway..
Well as I leave, I’m looking at myself in the Bean and considering this city of the past, city of today, and certainly city of the future (spaceships at Millennium Park and Soldier Field). I’m already excited about working on our second Chicago project.