After passing through O’Hare airport multiple times when travelling back home to Singapore in the past few years, my wife and I finally went to Chicago for the first time this past weekend!
Now, Chicago is a fairly new city (but I guess most of the US is), and much of the architecture seems to be pretty new. In some ways, it reminded me of Singapore — A thriving city, with many newly-built facilities, easily accessible shopping district (the Magnificent Mile is similar to Orchard Road in Singapore), and boy, is it CLEAN! I guess if someone gave New York City a scrub-down, it might look like Chicago. But that’s also part of the charm of NYC, making it my favorite city in the US thus far, though only just ahead of Chicago.
Where Chicago differs from Singapore is the number of parks that are along Lake Michigan, hugging the shoreline and providing an oasis in the midst of a concrete desert. This makes for a pleasant mix of business and leisure, and unlike the Central Park in Manhattan, the parks in Chicago are readily accessible throughout most of the city. Another great thing about the city is that the people are just so very warm, so unlike New Yorkers, known for their brashness. They also seemed a little more cultured, for lack of a better word, to me — there is a cultural finesse about the place I cannot quite put my finger on, which at the same time has a slightly superficial feel to it (a little like the architecture).
Chicago is not known as the Windy City for nothing. The tall buildings form tunnels along which the lake breeze gets channeled, making shaded areas incredibly chilly. We spent three days in the city, trying out deep dish pizzas, hot dogs, and scrumptious breakfasts. Between parks and shopping, we also visited museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, in a small, nondescript building along Michigan Avenue, curated by what appears to be photography students from Columbia College of Chicago. In it, we found a bunch of pictures by Bruce Davidson, Berenice Abbott and many others, though it is but a tiny portion of the museum’s collection (I believe the prints are rotated throughout the year).
In all, the whole Chicago experience was decidedly delightful, and though I will probably not visit the city again in the near future, it is certainly one of my favorite places in the US!