Our trip to Chicago was fast but great. We made the most of our one full day in the Windy City, but surely the best story came after we arrived Thursday night, having spent ~30 hours on the train from Albuquerque.
As described in a pre-trip email, we got an almost affordable hotel room at the Travelodge Chicago. We found out why their rates were below the norm. This building was apparently a very old dive that Travelodge bought and painted. We found out more about this later however.
I don't know if you've ever been on a train for 30 hours. It isn't a bad experience. The food's good and it's basically comfortable. But one drawback is no access to a shower. And showering is what one tends to look forward to the most in making one's destination.
We got up to our 12th (top) floor room, not having noticed yet that only one of the three elevators was functional. We found a room with two beds and two bathrooms. Neither of the bathrooms had water. The front desk said that they were working on the boiler, and the water would be off for about an hour "tops".
So, determined to make the best of things, and knowing we were also hungry, we decided to take our unshowered bodies out to dinner. Right around the corner from the hotel was the George Diamond Steak House. Lucy had eaten there the last time she visited Chi-town 11 years ago. Naturally we went in. No other customers. But Tim was there, and he was running the joint. He wasted no time in telling us that the place had been there 69 years. He sat us down, told us what to order, and proceeded to regail us with stories of his family's steak house, told us what to do and where to go and gave us a great time. He also gave us some dirt on our hotel. He said that up until about a year ago, the building was an SRO (sleeping rooms only) and that up until two weeks ago the top two floors were SRO. Tim told us that he knew some of the men who were living there, some for 30 years, oldtimers who worked banquets at various downtown hotels, and that one day the management came up and told them they had to be out the next day. It put them in quite a spot. We didn't feel very good about sleeping in what was some fellow's home up until just recently.
Tim also told us that it's likely that a year from now, his steak house probably won't be there, because the city wants the building. Don't feel sorry for him. His family currently owns the structure, so they're looking forward to retirement.
After we went back to the room, the water still wasn't working. But a little patience and it came on. The room ultimately could be described as tolerable.
The links below go to pages of photos. When you see a picture that looks interesting, click on it and you'll get a bigger view. Hit the back button to go back to the album page.
Chicago has lots of buildings--really cool old buildings.
Various visages from our walks around downtown.
The Navy Pier
Basically a party place, and as you might guess since it's a pier, right on Lake Michigan.
The Sears Tower
The preeminent monolith to modern architecture--tall, really really tall--the tallest in fact, in North America. If you notice the pictures from the top look a little funny, it's got to be hard to clean windows that are 110 stories off the ground.
How the masses transit around Chi-town.
Todd is a very good friend who coincidentally just moved Chicago. He helped show us around town and helped drink a really loaded Irish Coffee at the Navy Pier. The views are from his brother's apartment, where he is staying--the 46th floor of a 61-story highrise right on Lake Michigan over the Navy Pier--stylin' baby.