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Traveling as an Urbanist: Chicago

Chicago,is the home of the Burnham Plan (one of the first urban plans in the country) and the 1893 World’s Fair. Chicago also invented the skyscraper. Chicago is an example of what you should and shouldn’t do in city government. There are suburban parking lots incorporated into an urban street grid. Yes, that means that in some parts of the city, you can walk to Super Target.

I saw this first hand this past week as I took to the streets of Chicago (well, really just Michigan Avenue) as I attended the big annual conference we do at work for all of our sister humanities councils.I think this post would best be illustrated in photos, as there was so much visual stimulation, from start to finish.

What you have here is what you will see if you fly out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. I like flying out of Piedmont Triad International for the convenience (and there was a direct flight), but the price was too good to beat. Plus, the new Terminal 2 does a great job of integrating North Carolina culture into the seemingly standard construction of the airport. There is local art like that in front of the elevator, murals and even the wood beams themselves are of a tree that is native to our state.

So I get on the ground and I am met by a PVC pipe masking itself as an airport terminal.
It did get festive. But the dark baggage claim floor reminded me of being at PTI at night. We arrived at 12:30 PM local time.

We stayed and had our conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was right on the Magnificent Mile, just a half block north of the river. The room had a wonderful design and a very nice view on both sides. We had a first row seat to the Christmas parade as well.

When I wasn’t in a session, I could find my way around easily. I got down to the Chicago Cultural Center(for our opening reception), The Chicago History Museum (to see the wonderful Isabelle Wilkerson again).

The Navy Pier on Sunday morning

And most of all, the Contemporary Art Museum. I really enjoyed seeing how people work in multiple mediums, in abstract art forms and in the case of the Mothers sign, on the street level.

The hotel itself had some wonderful architectural elements and has a great history behind it, especially it’s pool.

I was not able to utilize the L train, nor the bus system, but I liked these two elements of this bus stop.

Lastly, I feel like, outside of issues with the schools, and some of the neighborhood segregation, Chicago has a lot of to offer to the world. Other issues, such as the private parking meter deal, not reading contracts of all types and the cold(it was unseasonably warm this week) can be overcome as well.

I hate that there were folks I wanted to meet up with and couldn’t. I will make sure that next time, I host a meetup, so I can hear directly from you locals.

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  • Tiffanie T.

    Chicago’s Midway is an awesome airport. The only time I am in Chicago is to connect a flight to MN, but I am always curious to know how Chicago looks. Maybe one day, I will experience the city life of Chicago like you did on your trip to the “windy city. “

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