Chicago has no edge

Painting interrupted, Chicago, IL
Painting interrupted | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Fanny packs. Shorts riding up in the crotch. Socks with sandals, or worse, black socks with sandals. Cameras hang from necks. McDonald’s sausage muffin breakfast with a diet Coke. Disposable rain ponchos. Maps in back pockets. Wallets in back pockets. Hungry for dinner at 5 pm. Hit the buffet. Afraid of strangers. Safety in numbers. Shout at a clerk that doesn’t speak English. Shout louder.

These tourists must come from somewhere. They don’t just materialize from the ether to stand between you and a painting you’re admiring just to take a low-resolution camera phone photo. They don’t live in limbo on their tour buses, forever following their printed itinerary from site to site, never going home.

They come from the Midwestern U.S. of A. And they’re everywhere in Chicago.

Chicago is nice
Chicago is nice | Photo by Lauren Girardin

But in Chicago, these are not tourists. They live here. Work here. It’s their capital city, their metropolis. They own the place.

Chicago was designed, not grown.

Frank Lloyd Wright developed his prairie architectural style in Chicago, designing broad, horizontal buildings that would stretch and meld with the expansive Midwestern horizon. Later, modern architects would turn Wright’s rectangles on their short end, erecting skyscrapers to break up the monotony of the open country.

Running, Crown Fountain, Chicago, IL
Running at Crown Fountain | Photo by Lauren Girardin

After four and a half pleasant days walking nice neighborhoods, nice parks, and nice museums all we could think was “golly, it’s so nice here.”

Our friend Pierre warned us, “Chicago, it has no edge.” Matthew, one of our Chicago couchsurfing hosts jokingly told us “the meanest people in the Midwest live in Chicago.”

Same difference. Very, very nice.

Travel Photos from Chicago

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.