This post is part of The Heart of Chicago Series that will be running on South of I-80 for the month of March. This post is brought to you by my cousin Mary "Peachy" Bell. While she now lives just outside Chicago, she is still "connected."
The Chicago Connection by Mary Bell
Although born and raised in Chicago, I, now, live in the suburbs. However, I am still connected. I mean, I have Chicago water, share the same street names, and, well, actually live right across the street from Chicago. I even had a Chicago zip code until a few years ago when my village decided they wanted their own, but even we are connected. We have Chicago weather, Chicago TV channels, Chicago radio stations, banner newspaper, the Lake, and we are connected to those things as well.
It’s nice being a small part of something much bigger.
Recently, I have returned downtown to work. It had been 36 years since my days at DePaul which required a daily commute downtown. I thought it would be ok, but wow! I’m so connected!
The Rock Island takes me to the LaSalle Street Station. From there, the choices seem unlimited; a myriad of buses going every which way that stop within a block of my destination. There is a bus provided by my building that makes the rounds of the Metra Stations. There's the Orange line to Randolph, or the Blue line to the Pedway.
Now, there’s a real treat! The Pedway or Underground Connection is a series of interconnected tunnels that run under parts of downtown really is an adventure. There are downloadable maps and tours of the sometimes maze-like routes. Through underground parking, subway stations, Block 37, restaurants, boutiques, coffee and snack shops, and a stained glass exhibit, the underground trail winds its way through various ‘mini-neighborhoods’. When the Pedway runs out and you must emerge into the weather, you can make your own connections through the various buildings in the downtown area.
The new Divvy bike share program has extended the connections! Just look at one of their maps, and connect the ‘dots’ or docking stations that let you ride from point to point.
The ‘Chicago Connection’ is most evident from the window of my office, 50 stories up. A daily 360 degree view helps me realize where we are, where we’ve been and where Chicago is going. I can almost see Fort Dearborn standing at the edge of the river, or hear the panicked screams where the Eastland went over. I look at the river and marvel that the civil engineers were able to reverse its flow. I look down on the Prudential Building, once the tallest in the city and across to the Willis Tower. I see the El tracks and the locks, I see cars making kaldiscope designs in the snow covered streets, and I am one with the people scurrying to my next connection.
Other than my commute, and appreciation for the city, at least once a week, I do a dance under The Bean to stay connected. Not everyone in my family lives in Chicago, so when I get to the office, I wave across the Lake to my cousin in Michigan. I know she waves back, and that’s our connection.
We are all connected.
Mary is an almost 60 year old wife, mother and grandmother who has recently, taken a downtown Chicago administrative job. She am a former teacher, airline worker (lost luggage Diva) and Funeral Home employee. In her spare time, Mary is a musician who directs an Adult Choirchime Ensmble, sings in the parish choir, and plays French Horn in the Encore Concert Band. (which is by the way, based in Mokena, truly South of I-80). Mary has embraced commuting to work on public transportation and is an almost daily user (and charter member) of Divvy bikes, yes, even in the winter!
If you liked this post, you may also like: Chicago Trivia, My American Dream, My Chicago, Sweet Home Chicago as Told by a Southern Californian, or The Bonds of Chicago are Unbreakable, World Class Chicago
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