26 Jul

Chicago, IL, USA 22nd to 26th July 2012

I mentioned to someone that we'd stayed in Chicago, and got the comment that that was one blog entry they'd not be bothered reading. I can understand that, Chicago has a reputation amongst as a big industrial/agricultural centre, elevated metro trains, railroads, stockyards, Cubs, Bears, White Sox and Mayor Daley.


Well folks, I am here to tell you that you're right, and yet so very wrong. Chicago is a bustling cosmopolitan city with a deep love of impressive public architecture in the form of impressive and appealing skyscrapers surrounded by open space to both allow viewing of the buildings, but also public art from Picasso statues to the Chicago "Bean". It is a city on a lake as big as a sea, with a great Navy Pier that hosts both that Chicago invention, the Ferris Wheel, but also one of the most beautiful collections of stained glass I have seen. It has the blues, the place where the electric guitar met the Delta blues of the migrating Southern negroes as they moved north for jobs, and populated the Southside, counterpoised to the German-Irish-Polish communities of NorthSide. It's still one of the most residentially segregated cities around, but boy are they proud of their local boy done good.. Abe Lincoln.. or I mean Barack Obama? [Both of course]. Chicago is the third biggest city in the US, and although they're very proud to be American, they have a quiet confidence and there's much more celebrating international culture than I found in other parts of North America so far.

From Chicago IL USA

We viewed the city from the excellent Hancock Tower which whilst not as tall as the Sears [now Willis] Tower, has better views – I've done both now – and a great multimedia iPod based guide from David Schwimmer. We took the trolley bus tour with a guide who resolutely avoided history and facts, and focused on fashion, theatre and his 'favourite' buildings, he was sweet and he does cabaret every Monday night should you want to go.. Lawrys steakhouse was a great discovery when we rolled up on Sunday night, a traditionally English Sunday roast dinner place, beef, yorkshire puddings and mash.. all served in 1930s uniforms in a wood panelled restaurant and yet explicitly affordable and understandable. One night we went to the famous House of the Blues and ate before watching a country-rock act fronted by Sonia Leigh, and we also just lolled in our suite at the Crowne Plaza and Ann watched Coronation Street over the proxy server to ITV Player. Navy Pier was hot, and fun, and the stained glass windows were lovely [I adore the Tiffany ones] and before that we had a great brunch at Yolk, that has 3 branches in the Windy City. Shopping happened along the truly Magnificent Mile. Great lunchtime specials at both the Cheesecake Factory (vast even as 'small dishes') and a very cool mini deep dish pizza at Gino's East were consumed.

From Chicago IL USA

So, Chicago. Got to say we loved it, and it's probably now beaten Manhattan and Boston as preferred US metropolis..