We were in Chicago this past weekend. Interesting town: I certainly felt more like I was in a big city than Cleveland, with the density of skyscapers and tall buildings being about the same as Manhattan. Parts of the city, of course, recalls New York, while other parts, in the style of, say, the townhouses, recalls Boston. (Interestingly, our hotel was in an area that inexplicably reminded me of the Upper East Side, around Lexington Avenue. I realized latter that this was because of all the bars around the corner.) Certainly, the density of tall buildings, the active street life, the traffic, all that reminded me of New York, and felt more familiar than downtown Cleveland. And it’s a cleaner city: the streets underneath the El, while in many ways a 1:3 scale version of the New York subway, isn’t grungy in the way the streets underneath New York’s remaining elevated trains are. The public architecture is, in many ways, nicer than New York’s — Chicago has the big shiny blob next to the Gehry-designed amphitheater (all in the new park), and the Tribune building out-Gothics Gotham — and the lake and picturesquely sized river make for wonderful urban vistas.
There was no time to go to the museums, but we did see the video-image fountains and spent hours walking through downtown. In terms of true-tourist-attactions, those places where natives never go outside the company of out-of-town guests, we went to the top of the John Hancock tower at dusk to see the very flat horizon. The next time we’re in town, we have to remember to buy one of those City Passes: the discounts to the museums (Field Museum, Art Institute, aquarium, etc.) is very good. The line for the observation deck of the Hancock tower is also much, much shorter than the one for the Sears Tower: five minutes compared to an hour. The view is at least as good.
We at at Spiaggia but weren’t overawed. In terms of a high end Italian tasting menu, I thought Babbo blew it away, both in cost and quality. And we don’t have to dress in monkey suits while going to Babbo. At Gino’s East, we settled for ourselves that old debating point on whether Chicago-style pizza is better than New York-style thin crust. We may be partisan, but New York thin crusts beats out the over-stuffed Chicago pizzas hands down. Too much goop: it’s fine for what it is, but it’s arguably not pizza. Note that 1 slice of pan pizza is more or less equivalent to 2 slices of thin crust, i.e., we had a huge amount of leftovers.
Here are the photos: