Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicago - The Windy City

Chicago is the largest city in both Illinois and the Midwest, and the third most populous city in the United States, with over 2.8 million living within the city limits. Its metropolitan area, commonly named "Chicagoland", is the 26th most populous in the world, home to an estimated 9.7 million people spread across the U.S. states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Chicago is primarily located within Cook County, with the exception of a small northwestern portion of the city at O'Hare International Airport that is located within DuPage County.

Chicago was founded in 1833, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The Potawatomi were forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago. The city became a major transportation and telecommunications hub in North America. Today, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, with O'Hare International Airport being the second busiest airport in the world. In 2008[update], the city hosted 45.6 million domestic and overseas visitors.

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In modern times, the city has taken on an additional dimension as a center for business and finance and is listed as one of the world's top ten Global Financial Centers. Chicago is a stronghold of the Democratic Party and has been home to many influential politicians, including the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. The World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University rated Chicago as an "alpha world city" due to Chicago's important role in the global economic system.

Globally recognized, Chicago has numerous nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best known include: "Chi-town", "Windy City", "Second City", and the "City of Big Shoulders". Chicago has also been called "the most American of big cities"

(source: wikipedia)

Chicago, Broadway, Blue & Jazz.....

17-5-2010(Monday) Des Moines to Chicago

Ben's friend, a Korean took us to the bus stop at Des Moines city. We left Mr Bruce house early, saying goodbye to Becky.

The Korean friend took us to Capital building again, to have the tour of the inside of the building.

We met many Malaysian families at the bus stop, they also take the same bus to Chicago. They are the family who come all the way to attend the graduation ceremony and take opportunity to tour USA.

Left Des Moines early morning by Megabus, which provide service from Des Moines to Chicago and Iowa City. The bus stop is located on the north side of Walnut Street just east of 4th Street. Fares from $1 and up, if booked early it will be cheaper.

Megabus is from, which is the first, low-cost, express bus service to offer city-to-city travel for as low as $1 via the Internet. Since launching in April 2006, has served more than 4 million passengers throughout 28 major cities in the Midwest and Northeast. The bus company has providing low-cost and reliable bus services serving 28 cities from two hubs at New York and Chicago. Their luxury double deckers bus was new and clean, which also offer free wi-fi, panoramic windows and a green alternative way to travel. We traveled in comfort with ample space for relax, under the care of driver, who is professional. Megabus is a welcome alternative to Greyhound, which buses are normally old, and look dirty. The new bus company will provide healthy competition to the Greyhound and other intercity bus companies. My friend Loh HK is still have fond memory of his travel with Greyhound bus during his university days in USA. He had traveled USA by Greyhound bus in late 70s or early 80s. He said the bus was for the poors and students, hoping that Megabus will provide another different target market, higher segment group. The bus travel is part of the plan for multi-mode transport for the USA tour. We want to look at the life of normal ordinary US citizen, and not life projected by the Hollywood movie, especially life of ordinary people after the financial crisis.

Iowa state is practically a flat plain, looking out from window, there are farms...

The bus stopped at Iowa City , which give me opportunity to explore a while the old capital of Iowa State. The bus continued the journey after Iowa City, there is not much attraction outside the window, except the farmland, and the architecture of the residential houses at the small town the bus passed through. The bus trip is comfortable, the passenger either sleep or playing with their computer. You can also hear a professional, either a project manager or Art director, giving instruction to her staff in the bus by her hand phone, there are people who are doing their work or university student doing their assignment by using their laptop. Is the American using public transport instead of car for their business trip to save cost?...

The first Impression of Chicago City

It was raining when we arrived at Chicago. The first impression of Chicago was not that good. The passengers waiting at the bus stop(at S Canal Street), near Union Station, most of them are blacks. The surrounding railway track looked old and atmosphere at the surrounding looked rough and heavy, especially for the first time visitor. It was unlike when I arrived at Chicago airport on my first entry to USA earlier. Note: The impression changed later after we begin our exploration in the city. Chicago is the city I liked.....

After unloading the luggage from the bus, it was time to search for the location of the hotel. It was in downtown of Chicago at W Adam St, walking distance from the bus stop. Crossing the Chicago River, it is just 4 blocks away. The weather was cold with strong winds, and rain. But the rain was not heavy, we still can walk to the hotel. The Club Quarters Hotel, Central Loop is located at 111, W Adam Street, inside the Loop, and walking distance to Willis Tower(Sear Tower). In fact we have passed the Willis Tower while walking to hotel, we are in such a hurry, Willis Tower was overlooked by us without notice. Immediately after hotel check-in, we waste no time and walk to Willis Tower. Our objective is to arrive in time for the sunset view of Chicago city, and continue with the night view when the city is brighten with lighting. The night view of the city is magnificent.

The first night in Chicago, looking out of hotel window to the street, we do not know what to expect from the city. A city famous for its industrial look and gangland, as projected by the Hollywood film.

This is what I read prior to departure from Malaysia:

"Despite a big decline in the crime rate from the 1970's and '80's, Chicago is still a big city with big city problems. There are run-down areas within a few blocks of some well-traveled places such as near the United Center and US Cellular Field. The majority of the city's violent crimes occur within a relatively small number of neighborhoods well off the beaten path in the South and West Sides, but given the chance nature of crime, you should exercise the usual precautions wherever you go. And just because a neighborhood has a bad reputation, you might still have a perfectly good time there, as long as it falls within your comfort level.

Take caution in the Loop at night — after working hours, the Loop gets quiet and dark in a hurry west of State Street, but you'll be fine near hotels, and close to Michigan Avenue and the lake. When disembarking a crowded CTA train, especially in the downtown-area subways, be wary of purse snatchers.".

And I am now at the Loop, Downtown of Chicago city......what do you expected?... first time visitor to Chicago city, all on your own....

Chicago is not only Broadway, Blue and Jazz; it is much more than that.....

(to be continued...)

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