Living History and Culture (Chicago 8)

IMG_3641Day 5 in Chicago!


I woke up early in our Chicago hostel to find out that my phone wasn’t charged and drained to 13 percent because the outlet was glitchy. Battery packs–thank goodness I have those with me!

The dining room was filled with many people in their twenties who were already getting breakfast. Food was going quickly and I made a beeline for a bagel and a fruit.

The dining hall was big. People sat next to the people they were familiar with and there were barely a couple of open tables.

I decided to walk to the back door to see the view. The balcony outside had a tranquil view. The vines grew onto the reddish brick walls, and the outdoor tables were damp, perhaps from August dew or rain.

Chicago History Museum

My friend and I decided to take our separate mornings and meet at the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

What I didn’t expect from a smaller museum was a grand, two-story building.

Outside, there is a four-tier fountain. It had an intricate design with small statuettes, including cranes on the base that sprouted water.

Inside, there were a lot of old artifacts including a rusty old bike from the Oxford Manufacturing Company from 1890.

An iconic painting of a man setting a large, green street clock on a ladder could be found in the museum exhibits. An old newspaper showed monetary awards for finding criminals with $100,000 for the murder of Abraham Lincoln. It turned out that Lincoln, as Springfield attorney, had frequently traveled to Chicago for legal and political business. In fact, Chicago honored President Lincoln with an exhibit just for him with many of his rare belongings (his family carriage for one).

The Chicago History Museum has many exhibits and a hall that looked similar to the Huntington Library. It was a roomy, white-walled gallery.

Another amazing gallery was filled with dioramas of old Chicago, replicas of how the city was when it was first built to when it went up in flames and the red flames engulfed the port of Lake Michigan.

Surprisingly, these exhibits had Spanish translations, which I didn’t expect from a Midwestern city.

For the feminist, the museums present a great exhibit on diversity and rights and female suffrage.

There were many African Americans who worked there including a kind lady who introduced me to a heartfelt short film (about 15 minutes) in the Robert R. McCormick theater that was well-made and inspired interracial culture. A young Caucasian woman was babysitting a young African male in the big city, and their journey led them into acceptance. History still lived within the museum’s culture.

The Chicago Theater Marquee Tour

Soon, I was on the bus bounded to Downtown Chicago, and I got off near the Chicago Theater. The skyscrapers towered over the streets and I remembered it having great weather despite being in August-not too hot that midmorning and just enough breeze.

The theater is three tiers with a grand red staircase. A circular stain-glassed window is illuminated from the top floor. We made our way into the theater with our guide, all the way onto the dim stage, and then back to a hallway where it was graffitied with people’s signature near the words “La Boheme.”

Field Museum

After the tour of the beautiful theater, we went to the huge Field Museum. Two large grey elephants stood in the center with one of them rising its trunks. Soon, we grabbed a Ceasar salad and creamy corn soup in their Bristo Cafe.

Each part of the museum was themed-African, natural, Tahiti, and Ancient America were some we saw. There were lines of pots, a Japanese garden with a moon, and more.

Chinatown, Chicago

I didn’t expect a Chinatown in Chicago, and we wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t so close. The sign said “Chinese Community Center” and “Welcome to Chinatown” with a few Chinese characters. It was mostly one street filled with shops and a couple of red and green towers standing on one building. We dropped by a store to buy a cheap souvenir before heading out.

Little Italy, Chicago

Little Italy was a small neighborhood that sat in the middle of a residential area. On our walk to find dinner, we stopped by Piazza DiMaggio, which had two fountains and a Joe DiMaggio statue with him swinging a bat. Across the street was the Sports Hall of Fame.

Here, I grabbed an Italian beef sandwich that was drizzled in jus. My friend got a deep dish vegetarian pizza.

University of Chicago, Illinois

The whole time we were on this trip, we heard this loud buzzing sound. It wasn’t until walking toward the campus that we found a green cicada, about three inches big, lying on its back on a wooden window sill.

I’ve never seen or heard in Los Angeles, and these cicadae seem to fill the August air in Chicago. By now, the sun was down, and we wandered into the campus aimlessly. The lights were lit and the lawns, perfectly trimmed and green.

Julia Porter Park

When we got dropped off from the bus, we walked across to Julia Porter Park, which was a small park with a golden sculpture which looked like a twisted loop in the middle of red leaves. As we passed by a McDonald’s a big grey street rat ran across our path! This wasn’t going to be the first or last time we would encounter these large rats. They tend to be in the garbage and in the alley of our Airbnb, just trying to find its place in the big city.

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