the mag mile

Friday, March 09, 2012

The past two days, I have been venturing downtown and doing what my Dad calls "stress shopping". Oops! No worries, I'm only spending $ I saved up expressly for some much needed desired retailery. Remember how I worked in the Killeen mall for five months? Yeah, Killeen mall shopping sucks. 

As someone who is from a small town in Texas and went to school in only a slightly bigger small town in Texas, I long for good shopping. I'm not talking Bendel's here, but the decent chains that most 20s girls love - Nordstrom, Sephora, Free People, Anthropologie, Forever 21, Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters, etc. Now, they say Chicago isn't New York/London/Paris in terms of shopping, but damn Chicago does okay. To say the least. I mean, so far, literally all the shopping I could ever want (and food, now that I think about it) is RIGHT HERE. My new mantra: don't use your credit card, don't use your credit card...

The big shopping occurs on the stretch of Michigan Avenue, called the Magnificent Mile (typically shortened to "Mag"). It's downtown Chicago (called "the Loop" for the surrounding rail system that loops around and spiders out into the rest of the city) and houses tons of businesses, department stores, upscale retail in general, hotels, restaurants, and so on.

Basically, a lot of fancy stuff and a lot of touristy stuff. The majority of the people in this area are tourists, in fact, and plenty of natives who prey on such people. I was the target of a major creep walking around here - some guy followed me for about thirty seconds trying to smooth-talk me, but I pointedly ignored him until he spit on the ground beside me and went back to his group of hecklers. 

It's also where all the skyscrapers are. Again, I'm on a hunt to get the best shots of all the fabulous architecture, but for now I've just been so engrossed in looking skyward and seeing these titanic constructions. For reference, they filmed most of The Dark Knight right here in Chicago; hence, the slightly-known nickname "New Gotham". 

 Again, part of the Sears Tower as well as the Franklin (AT&T) Center.

 Foreground is the old Water Tower, now also the City Gallery.

See the neo-Gothic towers? Built in 1869 out of limestone, it  was one of only two downtown buildings that survived the Great Fire (any major cities which didn't have a Great Fire?) and has, throughout the years and in face of potential demolition, come to symbolize the city's resilience. Thank you Google. Also the site of a novel pumping system for the city.

And this is just the smallest fraction of the skyline. It is just awe-inspiring to step out of a building, or subway, and look up to be surrounded by these massive buildings. City of big shoulders, no doubt.

A decent shot from earlier today, from my phone. This is Trump Tower, one of the more iconic standouts of the skyline. I just happened to look up and over my shoulder as I was leaving Nordstrom. 

Some thoughts on adjusting to life in the city - my feet and lungs are slowly catching up, but in an interesting way. See, I definitely miss the fresh air and big sky of Texas (well, I just miss TX in general.), but I love that I can walk so much here. I'm just so used to driving everywhere that this is a nice change.

I also love public transportation. How great is it that people devise such systems to make traveling around giant cities so (relatively) quick and cheap? Of course there's the pee-smell and dealing with people's craziness and BO, but anywhere I go I love riding the subway. I've been fascinated ever since I had my first subway experience on D.C.'s Metra, and then of course the many hours logged on the Underground. Paris's Metro=dirty. But anyway. Still hasn't lost its 'charm'.

Efficiency is fantastic. The logistics are really something, you know? Call me a nerd, but if you just sit and think about how sprawling these behemoth systems are, and how it's this giant pulsating network getting thousands and people to and fro at high speeds, it's truly astounding. I mean, in Seoul, South Korea, over 8 million people ride the subway every day (compared to a mere 700K for my new city). I really want to ride the Tokyo subway...heated seats, basically no trash or vandalism, those weird Japanese head rest things...don't even get me started on the time I went on a bullet train under the freakin' Atlantic. Okay, rave over. Apologies.

A note about Chicago's train - it's called the 'L' for "elevated train" because unlike most "sub"ways, it only goes underground approaching/around the Loop. The rest of the system is elevated - one thing Chicago is known for.

I've lucked out in so many ways with where I live, but a big one is noise. I don't know how people don't go deaf from the ambulance and police sirens as they go careening by. Where I live, it's surprisingly quiet and I have no trouble sleeping. I don't hear any drunk people coming home. There aren't tourists milling about. I still hear a lot of sirens, but that's natural for a city I've come to find. I can't even be angry because hey, they're going to help people in need.

One sad and funny little note, I can't hear a locomotive from my house. I know, it's silly and weird, but every where I've ever lived in my life, I could always hear a distant train as I fell asleep. It's something sleepy and very nostalgic, from the depths of my memory, and it's always been a comfort - even when I was overseas for a short time, feeling very far from home. Perhaps I should get one of those noise machines that plays the sound of a locomotive? I probably need that to wake up actually...

But, home doesn't feel far away. I'm sitting here drinking a cup of hot tea, made from my sweet roommate's offered tea bag. It just happened to be the exact brand that I always drank before bed in college, and hadn't tasted in a while. A nice coincidence for the night, yes? :)

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  1. Hi doll! came across your blog and saw that you just moved to the windy city. I'm moving there this sunday and It's nice to see other bloggers doing the same thing I'll be doing soon. Gorgeous pictures!


    1. Mariel - thanks for the comment! It is somewhat reassuring, isn't it? Good luck with the move, and welcome to Chicago!

  2. Howdy, newcomer! Welcome to our fair city. :)

    Before somebody comes along and makes a big deal out of it, that big black building in your first shot is the Hancock Building. The Sears Tower is on the south side of the Loop, right next door to Union Station. Here's a shot (well, a rendering of when they were building the Trump Tower) that shows you the location differences:

    Sorry to troll, if that's what I'm doing.

    At any rate, keep up the awesome photography! And a few tips from the local gal-
    1. Get a library card. Even if you never take out a book, you can take out passes to the local museums. Which means you can go to the Field, the Shedd, the Adler, the MSI, the Art Institute, and the MCA for free!
    2. Dedicate a whole weekend to a few different neighborhoods- if architecture is what you're into. Ravenswood, Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, and Logan Square are all awesome places to go to marvel at buildings/monuments/shops. :)
    3. Last but not least, if you are not dieting or otherwise somehow opposed to the occasional sugar overload, go to Margie's Candies at the corner of Western, Armitage, and Milwaukee. It is probably the best ice cream shop in the entire planet. Trust me- and no matter what you order make sure it has hot fudge on it. You will not regret this.

    Again, welcome! And best of luck!

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment! Absolutely no worries - you're not trolling at all, in fact I'm glad you corrected me! That's a helpful image too...I did a Google search to match up my own pictures but I was definitely mistaken haha.

      And thanks for the tips! Getting a library card is definitely near the top of my priority list; I love reading and I didn't know about the added benefit of the museum passes. That's awesome, because general admission prices look kind of steep. And I am absolutely going to check out Margie's!! That sounds right up my alley!

      Thanks again so much for your comment!


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