Guest Post: An Open Letter to Chicago

Dear Chicago,

Don’t tell Atlanta, but you’re “home” to me right now.

I was never able to explore the inner workings of that city like I have for Chicago. The past three years have been shaped by weekend outings, long L rides and some unforgettable memories. From Lollapalooza to the 606 to Portillo’s, my Chicago adventures have made me a huge fan of the city.

Sure, I don’t actually live downtown, but I’m a college student living next to a huge city. I consider myself very lucky to be able to balance a traditional university experience with the exciting, fast-paced nature of Chicago.

I remember three summers ago when I visited for the first time, the way the metallic curved metal strips of Pritzker Pavilion jutted out, unlike anything I’d seen before.

Just from walking through the streets, I can see Chicago’s industrial history reflected in many building architectures – the dark, heavy iron metals, the sturdy brown bricks…

And sure, every city has its own unique take on food, but Chicago is something else. Who says you need to leave the country to try international cuisine? So many neighborhoods each with its own specialty: Ukrainian, Mexican, Vietnamese.

Over the years, I’ve come to get to know Chicago’s different neighborhoods through the food, the shops and events that take place. Argyle, for semi-regular bowls of pho and cheap groceries, Belmont for wacky consignment stores and eccentric fusion food, and Avondale for standout high quality meals and eye-catching architecture. And of course, seeing the sunshine reflect off the Chicago River as it cuts through the city still catches my breath every time, as though to give me a visual break for when the grey and tan concrete buildings start to blend together.

I’ve loved getting to know your nooks and crannies through concerts, comedy shows and restaurants – the intersections marred with construction work and the L stop stations that I’ve come to recognize from afar. You’ve given me a greater appreciation of public transit and made me a strong advocate for the L – even riding downtown feels like a visual adventure, watching the scenery morph from suburb to city. I can sense the different Red Line stops even before the train begins to slow down.

When Evanston starts to feel monotonous and the people start to look homogenous, you’ve given me an escape, a place to go when all of the purple starts to bleed together.

I don’t know where I’ll end up after I graduate, but Chicago you set the bar really high.

Catherine


Thanks for reading!! See more of Cat at her awesome blog here.

I’m always looking for travel stories to feature. Please shoot an email or leave a message if you have a tale to tell!

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