My first few days in Chicago have exposed me to a myriad of impressions, even though I have taken it rather easy. I have about ten pieces outlined in my head that I could write, and I’m not sure where to start. Because it seems most natural, I will try and take you by the hand to walk you through my own first impressions of this exciting and beautiful city – because this much is sure: I like Chicago very much.
When I get to Avondale where my friend Jesse lives, I am surprised at the suburban, peaceful character of the streets and the low-rise buildings. It doesn’t feel like the third-biggest city in this huge country. I get my first taste of overstrain when we go grocery shopping. So many products, and so many brands, and so many choices, and everything is so unfamiliar. Later, in Jesse’s kitchen, I remark how both the stove and the fridge are much bigger than I am used to them being, and he says: „Everything is bigger in America.“ I remember that that is what they say. But I had forgotten about it.
It is my first full day, and I take the L, which is the local metro, downtown. I get off the Blue Line at Washington, and as I ascend the narrow stairs from the subway into daylight, high street canyons open up above me and I know immediately that this will be more what I envisioned Chicago to be like. On the plaza I land on, there is a large modern sculpture that I find out is an original Picasso and depicts a sphinx.
The buildings around are of eclectic shapes and forms, just one thing they have in common: They are all very high. Steel and metal are used as much as different stones, and there is modernism as well as neo-versions of architectural styles of centuries long gone. In this square alone I could linger for a long time. But I move on, on toward the elevated rails on which the silver L trains shoot along, past shops and stores, on to Michigan Avenue.
As I step out of the shade of Washington Street and before me the busy avenue opens up to show the greenery of Millenium Park on ist other side, my heart grows wide. I enter the park to find Lourie Garden where I dangle my feet in the water of the small creek and enjoy the relative quiet in the midst of the big city.
I can still hear Michigan Avenue with ist cars and buses, the occasional sirens of a police car or fire brigade, and the general hustle and bustle of urban business. But the noise is faint, the wooden planks I am sitting on are warm with sunlight, and when I turn around to see the impressive skyscrapers, I feel that this is as good as urbanity gets. It is still a little overwhelming to me, but then again this is my first day i Chicago, and already I have experienced true beauty. What a blessing.