Though I probably walk by this intersection two to three times a week, I have never noticed this scene until the day this week’s Featured Photo was taken. I pride myself in always trying to observe my surroundings, and be aware of potential photographic opportunities, but when walking near this intersection, I am usually trying to pay attention to the masses of cars & trucks driving down this busy Chicago street. On this particular day, the lack of vehicular interruptions, along with the bright mid-day sun, really let the industrial beauty, along with the dramatic shadows of Chicago’s “L” fully shine.
In all of my years of wandering the Chicago streets, this was the first time that I experienced a major street be completely shut down in the middle of the day for an unknown cause. Come to find out this street was temporarily shut down to accommodate a visit by President Obama, who was giving a speech in a popular hotel half a block away. In addition to the lack of traffic, the heavy police presence, as evidenced by the repitition of squad cars on the left side of the street, and official SUVs hauling police horse trailers on the right side of the photo, added to the unique feel of this unusual occurence.
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Without getting too indepth about the history of the “L” (a quick google search would offer much more), I never knew much about it’s past. This week’s post provided me an opportune time to do a little research about the subject. While most travelers are quick to praise the New York subway, I did not know that Chicago’s “L” is the nation’s 2nd longest rapid transit system, only behind New York’s subway. It’s fitting for a system that accommodates over 220 million visitors each year – a far cry from the initial journey of only 30 people being carried by four wooden coaches (on tracks still in operation today!) The early lines were all built on grade and a good distance away from the central business district, but thanks to individuals who were also integral in the development of London’s underground, elevated infrastructure (hence the commonly referred to “L” nickname) in the heart of the Loop began construction just before the turn of the century. I encourage everyone to do a quick search to learn more, and also check back next week for another new, and completely unrelated, post!