Chicago, Reading the City: Day 1

View of Chicago from the University Center Student Housing

My trip to Chicago this year was for a college course… 10 days in Chicago exploring the city and interpreting it. I was beyond excited for this trip. Also… first trip on my own going anywhere far.

I went to community college right after high school, but then dropped out for awhile and finally went back to finish my undergraduate degree when I was 24. By that time I was working as much as possible, living on my own, taking care of my little brother and just trying my best to finish my degree. Meaning there was no way I’d ever be able to take advantage of those amazing looking Study Abroad programs they offered in college.

Now I am attending graduate school and I saw this opportunity come up to take an actual class in a big city I’d never been to before… hell yes I was going to take this class!

The class was called “Reading the City” and counted for 3 credits. The class basically explored various areas of Chicago and then we had to share what we learned about it while we were there. I basically thought of it like an urban design & architecture tour and it was.

The plus sides of this class:

+ Sharing this love of cities, architecture & design with other people that totally understand & love it too.

+ Exploring brand new places with a guide, someone who really knows the place and has a history with it. Our professor was super cool & so knowledgeable.

+ The amount I was able to see in those days. I do not think I’d ever be able to see that much on my own. We ended up walking 7 to 9 miles a day.

The down sides:

– I super missed my boyfriend. I’m 32 & have been with my boyfriend for 10 years. We’re just not used to being apart that long. It was weird not to have him to share things with everyday.

– Being extremely exhausted after walking all day. It left little time or energy to go exploring on our own at night.

– We only had 1 day not exploring with the class. The only other free day was the one you had to do the actual project… So it wasn’t really a free day. It was not enough… I wish there had been a day or two more free of the group.

– Being in a large group of 12-ish people for a whole week. It’s a lot of personalities to hangout with for 8 hours a day everyday for a week. It was also exhausting.

Anyway, this is going to be photo heavy and I’m going to have to break this out by day… because I took a whole lot of photos and made a video for my final class project. So I might as well share it all, right?

Day 1:

Had to get up super early to catch my flight to Chicago. Ended up sitting next to one of my classmates on the plane.

Luckily, I got to see this amazing sunrise at Denver International Airport before we took off.

Upon arriving in Chicago I found this sign:

Does this really need to be said? I want to know how many people are getting in random strangers cars at airports in Chicago. Seriously… I thought people knew this already, but I guess not.

One of my 1st views of Chicago
Harold Washington Public Library Center – Post-Modern architecture by Hammond, Beeby and Babka

I arrived Memorial Day weekend and took the L (elevated) train Orange line into the throngs of people for the Memorial Day Parade in Downtown Chicago… so it was crazy busy and some of the streets were closed. It was super easy to catch the Orange Line train from Midway Airport. However, due to construction I had to take a bus from a different station than the planned route. It was still easy though, just had to get off a few blocks from my original destination. One of my favorite things about Chicago was transportation… there are subways and L trains… everywhere. It’s cheap, and it takes you most anywhere you’d want to go and it’s awesome.

We stayed at the University Center which is directly kitty-cornered to this library. Around $30 bucks a night for summer housing, so cheap & in the middle of the city! Remember though they are like dorms, shared bathroom for 4 people… shared room with a single bed each for 2 people. Be aware. Free wifi… though it took some figuring out… and didn’t work that great most of the time.

People gathering for the Memorial Day Parade

Ok… some buildings now because… yeah.

from Wikipedia: The Fisher Building is 20-story, 275-foot-tall neo-Gothic landmark building
The top of the Fisher Building

After a short walk near the parade I decided to grab lunch and then head over to Grant Park for a little exploring on my own before our class was supposed to get together. I stopped at Cafecito based on Yelp reviews and a craving for a tasty Cubano sandwich, I was not disappointed. There was a bit of a line, but nothing crazy and the staff was super friendly. There were a few times I should have went back here instead of wherever I went since it was so close to where I was staying.

Lodgings view… smidge of the lake can be seen

Grant Park:

I’m just going to say it… WOW, what a park! It’s so large and has such great views. I know I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but what I did see was beautiful; and I was lucky enough to have a bright sunny day to have lunch in it.

Buckingham Fountain… based on fountains in Versailles, France
I can’t lie… when I saw the fountain all I thought was “Married with Children” tv show intro 🙂
Concrete planters… and the tall buildings lining the park edges create such a cool view
panorama entering the park… lots of cars getting testy and honking a lot
trains passing under park entrances

Lakeshore Drive… looking out on to Lake Michigan

One thing that really struck me was looking out onto the lake. It’s essentially a mini-ocean in Chicago and serves as the beach and main water destination. It’s strange knowing it’s a lake, not an ocean… because it reminded me of the ocean with it’s expansiveness.

After meeting up with my class we ventured up to the Old Town neighborhood and passed through Lincoln Park near the South Pond and walked over to North Avenue Beach before strolling through the Gold Coast neighborhood and then heading back via the Magnificent Mile.

Existing the L train in the Old Town neighborhood
I love the entrance to this house
Building details ❤ aka “Character Defining Features”
In case you weren’t sure… yes, we were entering “Old Town”
Street view in Old Town
If you’d like to see this gem it’s at Cobblers Square, go find it… My Professor said it was one of the first historic preservation / adaptive reuse projects he worked on… and it’s cool
Old Town… I like how you can still see the old Coca Cola words on the building
Old Town had a good mish-mash feel to it and was really lively
Public art and some landscaping in Old Town
kickass door in Old Town
new in the background, old in the foreground…
how cute is this raised cottage house?! I’d never seen anything like this on the West Coast
more of those “character defining features”
Also kind of fell in love with row houses… I want a stoop now

love this mix of housing ❤
Hi cute tree-lined streets!

Hello, Cafe Brauer… it was designed by Dwight H. Perkins, completed 1908 and is on the National Register of Historic Places and a local Chicago Landmark

Lincoln Park, South Pond

North Shore Beach

Being from Southern California it’s still weird to me it looks like a real beach, but it’s a lake…

me at North Shore Beach

Lakeshore View
one of my favorite photos I took…
You know why I took a photo of this house? Because Billy Corgan used to live here. That’s it. And no one in my class even knew who he was and/or cared… also it’s a Chicago Landmark.
goodnight, Mies Van der Rohe
Streamline Moderne versus Romanesque Revival?

Till Day 2…


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