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On the beauty of Chicago


Chicago has to be one of the finest cities I’ve ever lived. And that means I’m comparing it to Madrid (1 year), Barcelona (1 year), Paris (six months), and London (10 years). I work two days a week at a magazine based in Lincoln Park, and most lunchtimes I walk for a couple of miles around the neighbourhood. In just a few blocks, I can walk past a tower block designed by Mies van der Rohe, a row of early twentieth century town houses built in red-brick Gothic style, mansions that wouldn’t look out of place on a Paris street, a house with an iron façade that reminds me of a Wild West saloon, churches with curling stone columns done in the Moorish style, and a small museum with a classic Palladian portico. Every street is lined with trees, which are just starting to bloom in these warmer early April days. The grid system of the streets means that it’s an easy city to walk around, but the grid is broken up by these immensely long diagonal boulevards (supposedly following ancient Indian trails) that prevent any walk from becoming too monotonous.

And then there is Lake Michigan, only a mile from the front door of my apartment building, and as immense to the naked eye as a sea. For comparison: England, where I was born, has an area of 50, 346 square miles. Lake Michigan (note to UK friends: it’s pronounced ‘Mishigan’ not ‘Mitchigan’) has an area of 22,400 square miles. As they say here in the US, You do the math. Or I could do it: Lake Michigan, if transposed to Europe, would cover almost half of all the land in England. Which would be OK, as long as that included Sheffield. 



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