Chicago, A City of the Senses

Essay by Jenny1College, UndergraduateA+, September 1996

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Chicago has enjoyed the tourist spotlight over the years, due to its cultural and economical prosperity. The crowded streets, ethnic bakeries, and popular malls add zest and flavor to this enriching city. Since my short visit in May with a high school class, I have dreamed of making the busy commuters, blinding and mind-altering lights, and sheer musical excitement a part of my everyday life.

Commuters livened up Chicago in delightful ways. Several groups of men and women sat together in close, casual delicatessens on the street and conversed about cosmopolitan attitudes and modern ideas in popular culture. In another area of the city, men ate lunch at The Berghoff and seemed separated from their surroundings, concentrating only on the conversation and the condition on the food being served. To be acceptable at such high prices, the food needed to be flawless. One look outside, from the close quarters of such a place revealed to me a different world entirely: commuters rushed about continuously, convinced they would never reach their destinations on time.

On the elevated train, faces contorted in distress and I heard laughter and loud sighing. The flash of an Indian woman's purple sari caught Holzman 2

my eye. The different facial expressions, personalities, and wardrobes present

added sparkle to the otherwise dull and uninteresting dimension of public transportation.

While watching these different characters, I was drawn to the highest floor of the Sears Tower, where lights illuminated the sky and blended artfully into a pattern of lines. When I walked in the street, lights from stores and nightclubs permeated above and around me, making me feel as if I were at the bottom of a pit of existence, looking up at all the activity. This visual vertigo lasted until I ended at an elevated train stop,