The Windy City - and more police!
Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
109Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Chicago skyline is impressive, but so spoilt by passing trucks and overhead gantries, so the photos dont really do it justice. Just bear with us. Things wont get better!
Made our way to the hotel we'd chosed. Jane had recommended another one north of Chicago, but when we phoned it was already booked, so we stuck to our original (uninformed) plan to make our way to the South side.
Spent a bit of time getting maps, trying to understand the transport system, etc, and haaving lunch.
The Info office was in the Preston Bradley Hall, which used to be the library. Very impressive building. There was also a display of modern art and other art, which Martin dragged me round. Dragged, because I thought it was a load of .... There was a room of displays which were books. One book had pagees about 8 ft wide, and nothing on them. Another was a video of pages being turned by wind. We had long discussions of just what constitutes art, and I'm afraid Martin has done nothing to educate my philistine views. However, I was impressed by the building, and I hope the pics do it justice.
Wandered around gazing at the buildings and soaking up the general atmosphere. We were looking up at the Chase building and I was saying how I liked it, when a voice behind us offered that the view from a block away was even better! And we'd expected people in cities to be more standoffish than those in rural areas
Also saw where the subway/train is overground and runs on a platform above a street. Quite impressive, but I'd be happier if they pained the structure to keep the steel good!
Took the train back home, and walked along in the dark to the hotel. On the way a police car did a u-turn in front of us, nearly knocking Martin down. Wanted to know who we were what we were doing, etc. Took my passport and Martins driving licence back to the car and radioed in to check on us. Just what was he checking against? DVLC records and Peterborough? Had a dog in the car (we had just been discussing how few dogs we had seen over the past weeks!). A secong cop car pulled up, lights also flashing, and eventually they were satisfied. Thought of asking if we could photograph them, but decided against it!
So back home safe.
MIles 214, but that includes about 45 on the train. Max speed was 66mph, but that was also on the train!
Martin's mid-west moment:
The thing with sat nav is that,like most digitally inspired things,it tends to place you in a spot and deals with a narrow aspect - bit like the old digital watch v
So the journey diagonally from Madison down to Chicago was a joy.A whole series of well kept farmsteads - calapboard house and well maintained reddish brown farmbuildings just next door.And then you come across a bank building standing all alone.The trees are a glorious mix of golds and reds - better again through my rose-tinted sunglasses.
The towns are equally pretty and well ordered.Strictly observed speed liimits and that peculiar thing - no fences between properties.It seems to have the effect of preventing build up of personal rubbish.Or is it the absence of that which gives rise to there not being a need for fences?Did we tell you that we had been through at least one town where there had been a curfew time posted?
So the art thing.I made no attempt whatsoever to influence Roger.He knows what he doesn't like.The thing about the old library he mentioned was that it contains probably the largest installation made by Tiffany's - a 38 foot diameter dome,which tends to put the old lampshade part of the business in its place.And the marble staircases ..well
I was thinking about Dave 's comments about the blues singers that had influenced him and remembered that when we were in the hallowed halls of one of the Mormon buildings in SLC there was rather a formal looking lady playing some Scott Joplin rag on the piano.In my youth I used to listen to Jelly Roll Morton and Hudy Leadbetter and recall that a feature of the recordings (bearing in mind that there was not much thought given to public and commercial release of these recordings) was the cursing and blaspheming that used to accompany the playing.A contrast to the recent rendition.
We find ourselves in quite a black part of Chicago and our train journey home this evening was enlivened by some youngsters,natural successors to Huggy Bear,one of whom rapped for what seemed like 30 minutes.I could not understand a word but was amazed at his skill.Perfectly harmless stuff. This City could yet be the surprise of the trip, I think with time you could dig out a lot of stuff here.There is of course a Symphony Orchestra and the theatre quarter seems quite lively.Don't get me started on the art and the architecture.More tomorrow.