I don't know if my favorite place in Chicago is even still there. See, it's been almost forty years since I last visited, but it is in my heart and mind like it was yesterday.
Where is this special place: the 14th floor of what used to be called Lewis Towers, which was then the main campus building of Loyola University's "Downtown" campus. I am not even sure what the building is called now, though I have walked past it and driven past it many times since. If you look just north and west of the Old Water Tower you will see an old brown twenty-story building looking pretty forlorn amongst the brighter background and surroundings of the Michigan Avenue spillover.
What is on the 14th floor? The campus library. It was one of two or three floors that made up the library in the old building.
After my classes, I used to ride the elevator up from the classrooms to the library and try to do some studies and homework before going back downstairs to do a radio show at the FM station. Sometimes on the way up I would run into a number of older ladies who had grandfathered apartments in the building, which used to be a residence before Loyola took it over. When I think of it now, what a grand place to live.
So, what is on the 14th floor aside from a bunch of dusty books?
Big bay windows that overlooked the old Chicago Water Tower. When my studies got too boring or when I got eye-strain from reading some random volume I pulled from the shelves to divert and put off getting to my studies, I used to look out the window at the Old Water Tower. I would be looking down at it in all its lighted majesty.
Those were the nights when possibilities seemed endless. History was close enough to reach out and touch in the form of a relic that survived the worst disaster in Chicago's history, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. People hustled below, the sounds of horns traveled upward, the giant John Hancock Building loomed high and Lake Michigan was just beyond sight. Chicago, with all its might and fury surrounded me.
I felt a mile high.