In March, we spent a month in Chicago. The day we arrived the weather was relatively warm and sunny. but that was almost the last we saw of anything resembling warmth. From the next day the weather got progressively colder until a week later it was snowing heavily and I was wearing my thickest winter clothing.
I guess the time of year and the weather had a large impact but for me Chicago was not the vibrant, dynamic city I expected. For a start, it was much smaller than I had realised – about 2.7 million people. The biggest attraction for Chicago seemed to be it’s unique architecture, which is certainly interesting. I can appreciate an interesting building and there are quite a few to be seen. However, there is only so much excitement you can get out of looking at interesting buildings (unless of course you happen to be a rabid architect).
We did a few city walking tours, braving snow and freezing temperatures and learned quite a bit about the city and it’s history. on the worst day we did a tour which took us through some of the connecting underground passages through the city – miles of them, which residents use to avoid the weather above for most, if not all, of the day.
I understand that in the warmer months there are a lot more outdoor activities in the parks and along the river banks, which would have added to the ambience of the city. We saw little of this. What we did see were a lot of apparently homeless, depressed and often disturbed people (separately and combined). It was in some way bizarrely entertaining to watch these people parading their personal issue for the benefit of all and at full voice. Always at the back of your mind though is their, edgy intensity and the fact that the country allows, no condones, the carrying of guns. Not a recipe for total peace of mind.
In our last week we visited Wrigley Field to watch a Cubs baseball game. Given this is a summer sport it was odd to sit shivering in the stands in our big winter coats watching the fog rolling across the ground towards the end of the game. Regardless the Cubs won and the match was good fun.
We enjoyed our time in Chicago although a month was probably too long for us, in this city, at that time of year. Albeit, it did give us time to see the weather eventually warm up, cloaking the city in early spring colours, which improved things enormously.