The morning of the Fourth on Chicago's lakefront

The parking lot at the North Avenue Beach was full by the time I arrived there at 8:20 this morning, but the ticket machine was still dispensing tickets. I was able to take the above shot through the light haze and leave during the 10-minute grace period before a minimum $12 charge for the first hour kicked in.

Click the image to enlarge it and you'll see the park beginning to fill with people.

The parking lot at the Northerly Island beach was only about half full, but it was filling up rapidly before 10 a.m. South Loop residents able to walk or bike to the beach could avoid Standard Parking's $30 fee.

At least one resident was already flipping out from the heat – or perhaps from having to pay $30 to access a civic amenity that really ought to be free.

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