Walking the Windy City

30/11/2017 09:41

A visitor explores Chicago on foot to discover the vibrant metropolis in America’s heartland.

Chicago is known by many names:  Second City, the Windy City, The City of Big Shoulders and simply, Chi-town. It is the birthplace of the skyscraper, an architectural wonderland on the shores of majestic Lake Michigan, a city that entices visitors to explore it step-by-step.

My first stop on my own walking tour of Chicago was Buckingham Fountain located in Grant Park, one of the largest fountains in the world and a top tourist attraction, particularly at night when music and light are blended to turn the park into a spectacular outdoor performance venue. From the fountain, visitors can take in an unwinding panorama of giant high-rise buildings clustered in the downtown or turn their eyes towards the vista of Lake Michigan.

Continuing on my way, I reached another of Chicago’s most famous landmarks –Millennium Park, which spans nearly 100,000 square meters in the heart of city. This is a great place to relax and enjoy Lurie Garden, a splendid urban botanical oasis or take in a concert at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Frank Gehry-designed bandshell. The park also hosts a Chicago must-see – the Cloud Gate, a public sculpture known locally as “The Bean” thanks to its unique shape. The reflective steel sculpture by Indian-born English artist Anish Kapoor, is a gateway to Chicago, a poetic idea of the image of the city that it is reflecting. Its form was inspired by liquid mercury, as the surface of the sculpture reflects and distorts the clouds above and the city's skyline.

Chicago is a great place to eat, from world-class restaurants to famed local foods including Chicago hotdogs and stuffed deep-dish pizza, both of which drew me in for a bite. After a break, I headed over to the Chicago Cultural Center, a series of contemporary art galleries, and dropped by Chinatown on Cermak and Wentworth Streets. Following along with a neighborhood map I picked up, I searched after every single landmark like a scavenger hunt, while stopping to take photos along the way. I lingered for a few extra moments under signs for Vietnamese phở and at the Vietnamese Chanh Giac Pagoda.

As evening started to fall, it was time to enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian-friendly zone alongside the Chicago River, for a relaxing and rejuvenating stroll. Looking up at the skyline around me, rooftops of all shapes and heights danced like musical notes along a scale. Boats packed with keen tourists made their way down the river, while wild geese swam idly and gathered bread crumbs scattered by passers-by. On the opposite bank, diners gathered at tables along the river’s edge, drinking beer and enjoying the evening air.

I took it all in, this vivid picture of one of America’s great cities in a peaceful moment, under the warm glow of the setting sun, and savored the moment.

Phan Quoc Vinh

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