Chicago: New York’s Not-Too-Distant Relative

story and photos by RUBY HLIVKO

Chicagos skyline is reflected in the stainless steel surface of The Bean.
Chicago's skyline is reflected in the stainless steel surface of "The Bean."

Chicago is both a cosmopolitan city and a close-knit community with its sense of friendly, familiar faces and hometown comforts. There are blue-collar Cubs fans, Nietzsche-reading college students, black-berried business types, and women who could be your grandmother on their way to the market.

While this same diversity exists in New York, it tends to be more constricted to certain neighborhoods. In Chicago, different types of people live in a harmony that is undivided by rivers or bridges or blocks. Take a day to visit the often overlooked capital of the Midwest.

To get a taste of Chicago, literally, start your day with brunch at Orange, an institution in Belmont in Chicago’s North Side, reminiscent of New York’s Greenwich Village. You’ll be greeted with an unexpected menu including chai tea French toast, cinnamon roll pancakes, and the Popeye omelet (with spinach, or course!). Be sure to order fresh-squeezed juice with two fruits of your choice (try orange and watermelon). Appropriately, there is even orange coffee, which tastes better than it sounds.

After you’re full, spend an hour or two in Millennium Park—the sprawling 25 acre expanse in between the city’s towering skyscrapers and the brilliant blue Lake Michigan. This is not just any kind of park, though. It’s home to art, architecture, music, and beautiful green space. Check out Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, named for the perfect reflections of the sky and skyline, and nicknamed “The Bean” for its shape. Also, the Crown Fountain designed by Jaume Piensa features video images of locals.

Then, take in the view of Chicago’s famous architecture but not from where you’d expect. If you only have one day in Chicago, check out the John Hancock Center instead of the Sears Tower. It’s less crowded and the same price as the Sears Tower but offers a free, multi-media SkyTour showing the important and historical landmarks of the city.

Cure your vertigo with a delicious dinner at Bistro 110 on the Magnificent Mile. It features authentic, hard to find French cuisine. It’s a little pricey but worth it. Although it’s a “fancy” restaurant, Bistro 110 isn’t too uppity or intimidating for the average college student.

Finish the evening with a walk down Michigan Ave. and along the Chicago River. It winds right through the heart of the city as Chicago finds a place in your heart. The Midwestern charm and allure of Chicago will stay with you wherever you go.

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