Sometimes a TV series makes a certain city irresistible
Oddly enough, despite having traversed entire swathes of America and visited more than half of its states, one of the cities I expect to fall hard for has eluded me. Missing Chicago isn’t just careless, it’s downright careless. Route 66, which I have taken twice, starts here – but logistics dictated that I started my coast-to-coast road trips from Washington DC, so I took the route to about 300 miles south of Chicago in St. Louis.
I blame Dr. Doug Ross (aka George Clooney) for my Chicago crush. Without him I wouldn’t have become addicted to medical drama emergency, which takes place in the city on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan.
For those curious about travel, foreign movies and TV series were social media of the day, and as resident idol Doug Ross and the rest of the cast drove along Lake Shore Drive and roamed the city, I focused on the teeth of his horizon.
I fell in love with New York’s neo-gothic and neo-gothic gems and ziggurat crowns piercing the sky long ago, but it was Chicago’s economic dynamism that gave birth to the skyscraper. Steel-framed grandfathers such as the Mather Tower, the Wrigley Building, and the Tribune Tower anchored America on the world stage. The art-deco Carbide & Carbon building, an exuberant black-green confection with gold leaf accents, captures the spirit of the era. Resembling a bottle of champagne, it is a spectacular piece of architectural eye candy that, according to local lore, tipped the proverbial finger towards Prohibition.
There is a lot to love about this city. In an episode of emergency, viewers were treated to a glimpse of the baseball field at Wrigley Field. Built for the Chicago Cubs in 1914 (and named after chewing gum mogul William Wrigley), it retains its hand-turned dashboard and is steeped in nostalgia.
Chicago-raised Kanye West talks about the city in his song Homecoming: “Reach for the stars, so if you fall you land on a cloud / Jump in the crowd, fire your lighters, wave them / If you don’t. not know now, I’m talking about Chi-Town.
Chicago, can we start over?
Five Ways to Experience Chicago
- You don’t need to know anything about architecture to enjoy the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise, the best tour in town. The slow boat ride winds through downtown on the Chicago River, highlighting more than 50 of the most famous historic and modern landmarks. architecture.org
- A 1937 scoreboard and ivy-covered walls help make the century-old Wrigley Field baseball stadium a national monument. It’s the epitome of Americana to watch an afternoon game, eat a hot dog, drink a cold beer and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. mlb.com
- Deep pizza is a Chicago specialty, and partner restaurants Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due are among the best places to try it. The dark, worn interior isn’t impressive, but the pizza is. The buttery crust is molded into circular molds that have been seasoned for years, then wrapped with mozzarella and other ingredients, all topped with tomato sauce. pizzeriaunodue.com
- Chicago’s rich theatrical scene is comparable to that of New York. Ornate century-old venues dot the theater district, each featuring an elaborate Broadway production, from Moulin Rouge to Frozen. Smaller theaters, such as Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare, shouldn’t be overlooked either; they present enormous talents of actor, singer and playwright. broadwayinchicago.com
- Gangsters like Al Capone frequented the Green Mill, a long, dark jazz bar that hasn’t changed much since Prohibition (Capone’s favorite stand is the one next to the bar). Its underground bar charm and excellent live jazz have made it a Chicago institution. It’s a good late night spot (open until 4am) to listen to some music or a steep Old Fashioned. greenmilljazz.com
Read the full guide to Chicago here