Monday 3 November 2014

Falling for Chicago

I've been trying not to do a Janet Frame again this afternoon. Nik Wallenda has been tightrope walking across the Chicago River and between the two corn-cob towers of the Marina Center, uphill and then blindfolded, and honestly, I really only tuned in so that I could see those familiar buildings again, and not because I wanted any drama.

The buildings themselves are dramatic enough. So are New York's, but I like Chicago's better because there are fewer of them, and whereas the iconic NYC buildings that I recognise seem comparatively few amongst all the rest of that forest of glass and stone towers, in Chicago I feel that I have more of a handle on them, and can use them as signposts to find my way around. It gives me a connection with the city that I don't have in New York, exciting and spectacular as it is.
Doing the chopper ride over Long Island during our brief visit there recently really brought it home to me how densely built-up it is: all concrete canyons, the cliché as true as any other. It's pretty intimidating. But Chicago? It's user-friendly, approachable, its skyscrapers interspersed with people-sized buildings. Even Lincoln Park is more appealing to me than Central Park: smaller, more accessible, safer-seeming, but still with surprises to discover and room to relax in. It's just a shame its rhinos are so snooty.

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