Our reflections on Chicago were generally positive. It’s a great city, brilliant architecture, great restaurants and places to see, friendly people in general, and easy to get around on foot or on the “L” train.
But there was always an unease about the place somehow. In general there is a lot of homelessness, and I know this is also true in the U.K. but it seems different here somehow.
There’s a loudness too which feels threatening if you’re not used to it. Americans in general are stereotypically loud, but this is more that there is a lot of public shouting that seems to happen, which is disconcerting and sometimes seems to suggest distress in the people involved.
As can so often be the case, the gap between rich and poor seems to be so stark. Why is it that the richest country in the world is failing so many of its citizens?
There’s also the racism question, and general lack of opportunities for African Americans. Almost all the servers in cafes, security people in museums, and those working on construction sites are black. But those going into fancy offices and walking round like they’re important, they are mainly white. It’s something I was expecting, but it’s still a shock to see.
But then the last thing we saw before we left was the Cloud Gate again. From a distance admittedly, but it’s still stunning. Reflecting the skyline perhaps it also reflects the people who look into it. It tells the real story of Chicago because it captures everything, but as with any reflection, the viewer sometimes only sees what they want to see.