Step aside New York City and San Francisco… Chicago is the best well-rounded metropolis in the USA!
There are 3 metropolises that I’ve always wanted to visit in the US: New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago… and finally I’ve visited all three! It is important to note that while Chicago is my favorite city of the big 3 (and I love NYC & San Fran too), my opinions are derived from limited exposure of each cities as a tourist/photographer.
Long time readers of this blog know that I generally travel at a more leisurely pace compared to most tourists (partly because I enjoy photography and photography takes time & patience), but we were downright LETHARGIC in terms of pacing throughout this adventure! The main objective of this trip was to get some much needed R & R and we also had our 15 month old daughter in tow (thanks mom & dad for babysitting our 3 year old back at home!!)… The truth be told we probably visited in 4 days what normal visitors could cover in a day and a half!… thus… instead of sharing my detailed itinerary I will simply offer my photographs (to the right) and random impressions of Chicago below:
- Chicago is the cleanest metropolitan I’ve ever been to. From the moment we arrived at O’Hare International Airport… the train… the city… even its back alleys… are garbage free. This is a high praise coming from a Vancouverite…. For some reason I expected the city to be more rugged and its cleanliness really surprised me.
- DEEP DISH PIZZA!!!! (especially from Lou Malnati’s)
- Both NYC and Chicago have an amazing metro system (the trains even look similar!) and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that they are both charismatic but they cannot be further apart: NYC’s metro system is charismatic in a sense that it is rugged/no BS/all business; while Chicago’s elevated metro system is elegant/well-maintained/industrial. The elevated trains are more than just a mode of transport in this town… It is part of Chicago’s architecture/urban landscape.
- All the tourist attractions (even parks) are closed at 11 PM and it makes night photography difficult
- Unlike Vancouver where all buildings look similar (floor-to-ceiling glass), Chicago’s skyline is infinitely more appealing due to its diversity and variations.
- There seems to be an additional tax for everything in Chicago… sweetened beverage tax? Seriously?
- Every fourth car on the street is either an Uber or a Lyft
- Homelessness: I am sure homelessness is an issue for most metropolitan cities but Chicago seems to have a higher-than-most panhandler population (they are mostly friendly and not intrusive)
- Chicagoans are a bunch of friendly people! We’ve had locals stop and ask whether we would like a family picture taken at the Riverwalk, or locals giving us directions when Google Maps/GPS went wonky, etc.
- Chicago is nicknamed the Windy City for a reason… pack a windbreaker!