I have a very deep affection for the city of Chicago. I grew up in Chicago’s north suburbs, and lived in the Chicago area most of my life, but I don’t live there now. Would I move back if given the opportunity? In an instant. I’m reasonably happy where I am, but Chicago is home — the place my heart lives.
It may seem strange to have such a deep attachment to a place. But there’s something about Chicago — the energy, the pace and the spirit of the place, coupled with the people, the sights, the sounds and even the smells — that is a central part of who I am, regardless of where I am.
To get a sense of what stirs me so deeply about Chicago, I suggest a visit to the lakefront at dawn on a nice day — the season doesn't matter. Sit at the North Avenue beach chess pavilion, with early-morning walkers, runners and bicycle riders passing by, and watch the sun rise out of the lake, and listen to the city wake up. For me, there’s magic in those moments.
a small personal selection of chicago links
Chicago :: This is the city’s official site — a good a place to start exploring.
Encyclopedia of Chicago :: This is the online, searchable version of a wonderful book about Chicago, with entries about everything and anything in and around the city. It’s a cooperative venture by the Chicago History Museum, The Newberry Library (also see below) and Northwestern University.
Metromix :: Metromix is a great guide to things to do and places to go in Chicago. It’s hosted by the Chicago Tribune. Restaurants, clubs, museums, theater, movies — you name it, Metromix has listings, including classified ads for jobs, housing and cars. I have Metromix to thank for helping me find one of the finest brunches of my life. See the next link.
North Pond :: Sunday brunch at North Pond is to die for. The restaurant is tucked away on the edge of a pond in Lincoln Park. The view of the city’s skyline is breathtaking (see above, left, and this site’s home page). Chef Bruce Sherman was recognized by Food & Wine magazine in 2003 as one of “America’s Best New Chefs.” North Pond’s owners take seriously being part of the community: they have a dollar surcharge on each bottle of wine sold that goes to community non-profit groups, and they match the surcharge with another dollar from North Pond’s revenues.
The Art Institute of Chicago :: One of the world’s greatest art museums, the Art Institute of Chicago looms large among my earliest memories of downtown Chicago, because as a young boy I’d accompany my father on Saturday visits to his office in the Railway Exchange building just across Michigan Avenue from the museum. When I was eight or nine years old, Dad let me go across the street by myself, and I’d explore the AIC for hours. When I visit Chicago now, I always spend at least a morning or afternoon at the AIC.
The Museum of Contemporary Art :: The MCA first opened its doors in 1967 in a former bakery on East Ontario Street. The museum moved to its present home at the former site of an Illinois National Guard Armory on East Chicago in the early ’90s. The MCA has hosted significant one-man shows by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, as well as shows by Cindy Sherman and Robert Mapplethorpe. The Mapplethorpe show, incidentally, attracted none of the controversy in Chicago that it did in other places.
The Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center :: For years, Chicago was without a real central library. The HWLC, opened in October 1991 and named after Chicago’s first African-American mayor, is the largest public library building in the world.
The Newberry Library :: Located on Chicago’s near North Side, The Newberry Library is an independent research library concentrating in the humanities, with very strong holdings in American Indian history, cartography, local and family history, and Renaissance studies. I love libraries, and the Newberry is a great one.
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Much more to come, of course …