Chicago


Chuck Berry, a Chess artist

I feel like I toured Chicago a lot of times. Actually, in a trip I remember well, my brother, myself, and my late grandmother, took the train to Chicago. These pictures are from 1994, I believe.

Chicago, like many of its citizens, grew up fast and hard. In the 1840s, the town went from literally falling into the mud to becoming an important commercial point. By the 20th Century, Sandburg could laud and hate it in the same poem (cf "Chicago") as the "city of the broud shoulders" and "player with railroads," the city of Al Capone, Richard Dailey, and Ernest Hemingway, and, of course, Carl Sandburg.

Besides having historically significant and (appropriately) modern architecture, Chicago can claim its own music. Like New Orleans and Memphis, Chicago can lay claim to jazz, but more credibly to Chicago blues and rock and roll. Follow the trail of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley, and you get to music that delights millions, maybe even billions.

In terms of music, ironically, as in the case of Sam Perkins' Sun records (see to read about this) a relatively small studio, Chess, made the platters that matter. A famous story concerns the Rolling Stones trip to that studio. When they arrived, they found the studio tiny and, most suprizing of all, artists like Bo Diddley had none of the mass following or wealth of the Stones.

Sandburg, I think had the essence best, Chicago never holds any pretenses. In Wister's novel, The Pit, the hero walks down the street with the grain market in his pocket, hiding nothing. In Theodore Dreiser's novel (based on the real life of traction magnate, Yerkes), the disgraced Philadelphia Financier and "Genius" (his quotation marks ) makes his fortune again in public transit. Al Capone made little attempt to hide the sources of gains, and that's how the IRS put him away. In Chicago you are who are, and that's all you claim to be.


The "Windy City"

This statue honors the Illinois Indians. This image became garbled; so did the Illinois. After a drunken Illinois killed Chief Pontiac, the other tribes wiped them out. This was not the last time alcohol would lead to bloodshed in Illinois.

In the Chicago novel, the Cliff-dwellers, the rich live far about the common folk. Today, they'd live in the Sears tower.

The hero of Owen's Wister's The Pitcorners the grain marker. This building is the modern version of that exchange, the Chicago Board of Exchange.

The rival Mercantile Exchange deals in futures of the same commodities.

This signs talks about Hugenots, but French
Methodists own the building now.

Chicago tends to abound with superlatives. The Merchandise Market offers the large single store.

Clark Kent should work here in the Chicago Tribune
Building and leave grizzled Gotham City behind.

This Christian Science Church apparently came from deep space.

"A Taste Chicago" gives Chicagoans a chance to
sample the tastes of its many immigrant groups.

This view comes from the lake.

Sandburg wrote these lines (which made him famous): "The fog comes in on little cat's feet and waits."

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