I arrived at the airport heavy laden but was welcomed warmly. We freshened up and walked out into the afternoon, intent on seeing the city. There were breezes where I wouldn't expect them, squat buildings brown and grey, shorter than I pictured they would be. Downtown.

Sprawling shopping sections. Swarms of people, bare legged, bare shouldered, in shiny new leather and silk. Sidewalks smooth and even. Every corner stuffed to its edges with tables and little hostesses in black dresses, holding their slim datebooks like shields. I felt pulled into the running, bristled, as though we were running through the woods, feeling leaves cling to my arms.

The Navy Pier. Hearing old Beatles' songs in the speakers. People pulled this way and that by lovers, fathers, and children. The river that always stays green, he said, because they dye it green for St. Patrick's Day and it just stays that way. Bridges laced in lights. The strip of land so wide you could never touch your fingers together when you wrapped your arms around it. Windy kisses halfway up the stairs, halfway down escalators.

A club. He wanted to go dancing, and already I'd formed two perfect blisters on my biggest toes. Excalibur. They had an Oxygen Bar, but we opted for a quiet couch in the lounge, sipping our drinks, drinking the cool, watching snippets of 70's TV show intros on the big screen. They still have a place for the YMCA dance and about a hundred songs I listened to four years ago when I was in college and dancing to such silly music seemed liberating.

We muster nerve and get out there, where the people fold you in like tree rings, on all sides of warmth and light. There are no steps, we have no rhythm, but we have one another to get us through each song. And it was enough.

In August, 1967, we passed through Chicago on our way to San Francisco.

For a young Canadian, travelling to a big American city was quite an adventure. It was so big. We arrived by train from Toronto in one of the several train stations.

I couldn't believe this. In Canada there is only one train station in each city. I now know there are so many railroad lines in the United States, and each has its own station.

I remember the piles of rubble all around. I was so awe-struck. I guess they remained from riots in the previous years. The idea of riots on such a scale, that blocks upon blocks were laid waste is even today still difficult to comprehend.

It reminded me of images of European cities after the devastation of World War II.

We made a picnic in a park across from the Hilton Hotel. It was rather pleasant, if a little windy--the windy city?

What a weird feeling, a year later, to see the very same park, on television during the riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968.

This is what I think about when I think about America.

Map of Downtown Chicago

This map (pretty much to scale) shows the streets in downtown Chicago, from Chicago Ave (800 N) south to Roosevelt Rd (1200 S), and from Sedgewick (400 W) east to McClurg Court on the north and Lake Shore Drive on the south (400 E). Scale follows the information provided here.

Also included are a few popular downtown attractions. Either mouse-over them (they're pipe-links), or use the handy table below the map. Please note that CTA el routes are not shown on this map, and that before doing any serious navigation one should always consult an actual map.

www represents pedestrian walkways over the Metra Electric and South Shore train tracks. RRR represents the Chicago River.


4                      2                             0                       2                       4
0                      0                                                     0                       0
0                      0                             E                       0                       0
                                                     /
W                      W                             w                       E                       E
                                                                       1          2
+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---------------+-----------+ 800 N 
|S  Chic|ago    |      |       |       |      |      |     |     |       |               |           | (1 mile)
|e      |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |     |       |               |           |
|d      |       |      |       |       |    Su|perior|     |     |       |               |           |
+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+  
|g      |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |W    |       |M  |S          |           |
|e      |       |      |       |       |      |Huron |     |a    |       |i  |t          |           |
+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+ 
|w      |       |F     |       |L     C|      |      |     |b    |      3|c  |           |           |
|i      |       |r     |       |a     l|      |      |     |a    |       |h  |C          |F         M|
|c      |       |a     |       |S     a|      | Erie |     |s    |       |i  |l          |a         c|
+-------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+ 
 k      |       |n     |       |a     r|      |      |     |h    |       |g  |a          |i         C|
        |       |k     |       |l     k|      |      |     |     |       |a  |i          |r         l|
        |       |l     |       |l      |     O|ntario|     |     |       |n  |r          |b         u|
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+ 
I-90/94/|       |i     |       |e      |      |      |     |     |       |   |           |a         r|
======= |       |n     |       |       |      |      |     |     |R      |   |           |n         g|
Kennedy\|       |      |       |       |4     | Ohio |     |     |u      |   |           |k          |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+ 600 N
        |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |     |s      |   |           |s          |
        |       |      |       |       |      |Grand |     |     |h      |   |           |           |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+-----------+-----------+ Navy --\
        |       |      |       |       |      |      |S    |     |       |   |   C       |           | Pier --/
        |       |      |       |       |      |      |t    |     |       |   |   l       |           |
        |       |      |       |  Illin|ois   |      |a    |     |       |   |   a   P   |           |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+-----+-------+---+----+-+----+---+---+---+ 
        |       |      |       |       |      |D     |t    |     |       |   |   y| |l   |  P|   |N  |
        |       |      |       |Hubbard|      |e     |e    |     |       |   |   f| |a   |  a|   |e  |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+----++-------+---+----+ |z   |  r|   |w  |
        |O      |      |       |       |      |a     |     |   /         |       r+-+----+---+---+---+ 400 N
        |r      |      |       |       |      |r     |     |  /          |       o   a   |  k         
        |l      |      |       |Kinzie |      |b     |     | /           |       n      /             
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----++ RRRRRRRRRRR|RRRRRRRtRRRRR/RRRRRRRRRRRRRR CHICAGO
        |e            5|       |       |      |o     |     |RRRRRRRRRRRR/RRRRRRRRRRRRR/RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR RIVER
        |a             |       |       |      |r     |    R|RRR        /             /
        |n             |       |       |      |n     |  RRR|R         /             /
        +s             |       |       |      |      |RRRRR|         / Wacker      |
R        \      RRRRRRR|RRRRRRR|RRRRRRR|RRRRRR|RRRRRR|RRR  |     ---+--------+-----+------------------ 
RR        \ RRRRRRRRRRR|RRRRRRR|RRRRRRR|RRRRRR|RRRRRR|R    |    /   |        |     |
RRR      RR\_R         |       |       |      |      |     |   /    |        |     | /-- Columbus
RRR   RRRRRR \         |       |       |      |      |     |  /     |        |     | \-- Drive
RRRRRRRRRR    \        |       |       |Wacker|      |     | /      |S. Water|     |
RRRRRR         ++------+-------+-------+------+------+-----++-------+--------+-----+------------------ 
RRRR          / |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |        |     |
RRR         _/  |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |        |S    |
RRR        /    |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |        |t    |
RRR       /     |      |       |       | Lake |      |     |        |        |e    |
--------++------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+--------+t    |                   200 N
RRR     |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |        |s    |
RRR     |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |        |o    |
RRR     |       |     W|       |       |      |      |     |        |        |n    |
RRR     |       |     e|       |     6 |      |      | Rand|olph  22|        |     |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+--------+-----+------------------ 
RRR     |       |     l|      L|     7 | 9    |      |     |        |              |
RRR     |W      |     l|      a|       |      |      |     |        |M             |
RRR     |a      |     s|       |       |      |      |     |       8|i             |
RRR     |c      |      |      S|       |      |      | Wash|ington  |c             |
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+h             |                // 
RRR     |k      |      |      a|       |      |      |     |        |i             |C    Grant      ||
RRR     |e      |      |      l|      C|      |      |     |        |g Millennium  |o     Park      ||L
RRR   10|r      |      |      l|      l|      |      |     |        |a    Park     |l               ||a
RRR     |       |      |      e|      a|      |      |     |Madison |n             |u               ||k
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+              |m               ||e 0 N/S
RRR     |       |F     |       |      r|      |      |     |        |              |b               ||
RRR     |       |r     |       |      k|      |      |     |        |              |u               ||
RRR   11|       |a     |       |       |      |      |     |        |              |s               ||
RRR     |       |n     |       |       |      |      |     | Monroe |              |                ||
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+--------------+----------------++ 
RRR     |       |k     |       |       |      |      |     |        |              |                ||
RRR     |       |l     |       |       |      |      |     |        |              |D               ||
RRR     |       |i     |       |       |      |      |     |        |              |r               ||S
RRR     |       |n     |       |       | Adams|      |     |        |              |i               ||h
--------+-------+------+-------+-------+------+------+-----+--------+ 15           |v               ||o 200 S
RRR     |       |      |       |       |      |      |     |        |              |e               ||r
RRR     |       |      |Quincy |       |      |      |     |        |              |                ||e
RRR     |       +------+-------+-------+      |      |   16|        |              |  12            ||
RRR     |  18   |      |       |       |      |      |  17 | Jackson|              |                ||
--------+-------+------+---+---+-+-----+----+-+-+----+-----+--------+--------------+----------------++ 
RRR     |       |      |   |F    |     |    | | |    |     |        |              |                ||
RRR     |       |      |   |i    |     |    | | |    |     |        |              |  13            ||
RRR     |       |      |   |n    |     |    | | |    |     |        |              |                ||D
RRR     |       |      |   |a    |     |    | | | Van|Buren|        |              |                ||r
--------+-------+------+---+-----+-----+----+-+-+----+-----+--------+--wwwwwwwwwwww|                ||i 400 S
 RRR    |       |      |   |n    |     |    | | |  19|     |        |  \           |                ||v
  RRR    \      |      |   |c    |     |    | | |    |     |        |   \          |                ||e
   RRR    \     |      |   |i    |     |    | | |    |     |        |    \         |                ||
    RRR    \    |      |   |a    |Congr|ess | | |Pkwy|     |        |     \        |                ||
============+===+===---+---+-----+-----+----|-+-+----+-----+--------+------+-------+----------------++ 
I-290 RRR    \  |      |   |l    |     |    | | |    |     |        |     /        |                ||
       RRR    \ |      |   |     |     |    | | |    |     |        |    /         |                ||U
        RRR    \|      |   |S    |     |    | | |    |     |        |   /          |                ||S
         RRR    +      |   |t    |     |    | | |    | Harr|ison    |  /           |                ||
----------------+------+---++----+-----+----+-+-+----+-----+--------+--wwwwwwwwwwww|                ||R 600 S
           RRR         |    |    |     |   F| | |P   |     |        |20            |  14            ||t
           RRR         |W   |    |     |   e| | |l   |     |        |              |                ||
           RRR         |e   |    |     |   d| | |y   |     |        |              |                ||4
            RRR        |l   |    |     |   e| | |m   |     | Balbo  |21            |                ||1
            RRR        |l   |    |     |   r| | |o   +-----+--------+--------------+----------------++ 
            RRR        |s   |    |     |   a| | |u   |     |W       |              |                ||
             RRR       |    |    |     |   l| | |t   |S    |a       |              |                ||
             RRR       |    |Polk|     |    | | |h   |t    |b       |M             |                ||
---------    RRR       +----+----+-----+----+-+-+----+a    |a       |i             |                ||
  Polk        RRR      |    |    |     |        |    |t    |s       |c             |                ||
              RRR      |    |    |     |    P|       |e    |h       |h             |   Hutchinson   ||
              RRR      |    |    |     |    a|  |    +-----+--------+i             |      Field     || 800 S
               RRR     |    |    |     |    r|  |    |     |  8th   |g             |                ||
               RRR     |    |    |     |    k|  |    |S    |        |a             |                ||
               RRR     |    |    |     |     |  |    |t    |        |n             |                ||
                RRR    |    |    |     |    T|  |    |     |        |              |                ||
                RRR    |    |    |     |    r+--+----+-----+--------+A             |                ||
                RRR    |    |    |     |     |  |P   |     |        |v             |         MSI,   ||
                 RRR   +----+    +-----+    /   |l   |     |        |e             |       Soldier  || 1000 S
                 RRR   |  Taylor St.   |   /    |y   |     |        |              |      Field and ||
                 RRR                   |  /     |m   |     |        |              |        I-55    ||  
                  RRR                  |  |     |o   +-----+--------+              |         ||     || 
                  RRR                  |  |     |u   |     |  11th  |              |         ||     ||   
                  RRR                  |        |t   |     |        |              |        \  /    ||  
                   RRR                 |        |h   |     |        |wwwwwwwwwwwwww|         \/     || 
                   RRR                 |        |    |     |        |              |                || Museum --\
                   RRR                 |   Roose|velt|     |        |              |1200 S  (1 mile)|| Campus --/
---------------------------------------+--------+----+-----+--------+--------------+----------------++ 

Points of interest:

  1. Old Water Tower/Chicago Water Works
  2. Museum of Contemporary Art
  3. Terra Museum of American Art
  4. River North
  5. Merchandise Mart
  6. James R. Thompson Center/State of Illinois Building
  7. City Hall and County Building
  8. Chicago Cultural Center
  9. Richard J. Daley Center and the Picasso
  10. Civic Opera House
  11. Chicago Mercantile Exchange
  12. Grant Park Concerts
  13. Taste of Chicago (June-July)
  14. Buckingham Fountain
  15. Art Institute of Chicago
  16. Symphony Center-Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  17. Chicago Architecture Foundation
  18. Sears Tower
  19. Harold Washington Library
  20. Museum of Contemporary Photography
  21. Spertus Museum of Judaica
  22. Gallery 37 Center for the Arts

Credit to:
http://www.transitchicago.com brochures, personal knowledge.

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