Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chicago: City of Bridges

When my daughter was around 4 years old we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was fascinated by bridges. She had a children's video about them, which she watched over and over, like kids will do. That summer we took a car trip with my mother, from our home, to Cleveland. When we arrived up north my daughter was amazed at the variety of bridges.

The highlight of the trip was our return home. My daughter and I left Cleveland on the Amtrak train back to the Southwest. We had a 5 hour layover transfer in Chicago. I don't know of any other city in America that can match Chicago for bridges. We were in awe.

Chicago has all the typical city bridges--freeway overpasses, rail lines, pedestrian walkways at airports, and connectors over rivers. In addition, the city was built in a swamp. Therefore, buildings are constructed in layers above the ground. Wacker Drive in downtown has three distinct levels, plus additional pedestrian links. To walk around the heart of the city is to constantly climb stairs and cross bridges.

The city has some unusual bridges. Part of the Pedway system is skyway bridges. It's is not limited to underground tunnels. There are industrial relics across the rivers. The Chicago Park District has an abundance of historic pedestrian bridges. If you look around you will find them everywhere.

When my daughter and I got off the train that summer trip I was surprised how accessible downtown Chicago was to the surrounding neighborhoods. It's easy to find somewhere to walk across the river. In some cities, like Los Angeles, few people walk. In other cities, natural barriers are too great. In New York there are few crossovers that span the long distance between Brooklyn and Manhattan. 

Still other places were designed without consideration for pedestrians. Getting in a vehicle, or riding the elevated free mass transit automated people mover, is the only way to get around downtown Miami. Chicago is unique.

Chicago is a city of bridges.
Vintage Postcard of Chicago Skyline
Downtown Chicago
Chicago River
South Branch of Chicago River
South Loop
Lincoln Square
Lakeshore East
Hyde Park
East Garfield Park
Chinatown in Armour Square

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