Cold? Yes, but oddly cosy at the same time. This great city has some many eclectic neighbourhoods in which you can find great food and interesting people to chat with. Now before you say it, yes, Chicago has its fair share of problems. I get that, but what doesn’t come across in the news articles and police reports is the vibe that Chicago and all its neighbourhoods exude.
What you don’t see in these articles are the everyday exchanges between locals and tourists, the comforting hug that you get when you walk down the narrow alleyways between towering skyscrapers to find that local pub or tasty deep dish pizza joint. These places are just waiting to provide you with an experience that no other city in the world can offer.
The heart of Chicago.
Chicago does its fair share of tourist traps like the Navy Pier, but dig a little bit deeper and you’re bound to discover what, in the eyes of a tourist, makes the city tick. Find yourself good food or drinks, and you’ll find what made the city so great all those years ago. Jazz, blues and gospel still reign supreme here, and the bar scene supports it. If this isn’t your cup of tea, the city is staunch supporters of the local sports teams. Catch a Cubs game at Wrigley field, but make a day of it. The surrounding area is host to great neighbourhoods.
My tip: I’m of Scandinavian descent, and I couldn’t miss having a proper Swedish breakfast in Andersonville, a neighbourhood that, at one time, had the highest concentration of Swedes outside of Sweden. I highly recommend Svea Restaurant.
Architecture and the rise of the skyscraper.
The city itself is very photogenic. I love photographing buildings and understanding the history behind the architecture. Chicago excels in this department. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild. This construction led to a boom that resulted in Chicago in becoming among the five largest cities in the world by 1900. It was during this period that Chicago became known for its contribution to urban planning and zoning standards, new constructions styles, the embracement of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
It’s also surprisingly friendly to urban photographers. Scouring the streets photographing daily life does not feel out of place. Be sure to catch the “L”, the local subway system for a true take on everyday life in Chicago. Nicknamed the “L”, this is the rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs. And if you’re a Blues Brothers fan like me, you’ll need to make a stop at the Richard J. Daley Center.
The Willis Skyscraper is the epitome of a skyscraper, at 108 stories. If you’re a sucker for a good view and glass floors, check out the Skydeck.
What lens to use?
There is no shortage of things to do in Chicago. You’ll come home with at least a story or two, and a memory card full of memories and great photos to share. I recommend wide angle lenses like a 14-40 to really capture the densely packed skyscraper city that is Chicago.