Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Chicago Landmarks Quest, An Introduction

About a week after the Unemployment came, I was in the Loop killing some time between a trip to the dentist and lunch with a few friends. I took a walk through the Chicago Cultural Center and passed through one gallery, which featured "Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens," a collection of simple photographs of some of Chicago's landmark buildings. At the end of the gallery, there was a stack of maps of the 277 Chicago Landmark structures. I took one, opened it up, and I immediately knew what to do.

I would visit each of the 277 landmarks. Preferably by foot. It is a project that suits me perfectly. I like buildings. I like exploring. I like Chicago. And more than anything, I love creating a check-list and checking things off of it. Here was a ready-made list of 277 to-do's.

At the time, I was reading City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, about Chicago in the 1800's. The book discusses the lives of a number of early prominent settlers. I was struck that many of them shared the hobby of walking the city, especially during periods when business was slow. It seemed to be an act that allowed them to learn the geography and people of city intimately, something that bonded each of them to Chicago. While I'd been in Chicago for about 7 months, I had not seen much of the city, outside of my daily commuting. Here was the impetus to get out and see the city, and see the parts and points of it that one might miss.

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