Chicago's Aerial Beauty: Seeing the City as the Birds Do

Among all of Chicago’s many assets, its physical beauty is an overly well-kept secret to those who are not very familiar with this city. For someone who was a frequent visitor to Chicago before moving here to become a full-time resident in 2011, one of the first things that struck me was the genius of the city planners to preserve nearly all of the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline as open public space.

If there are any other cities in which you can walk up the main commercial avenue, take a tunnel a few hundred feet under a roadway, and be on a swimming beach, I’ve never been there. And you can then walk for miles along beaches and through parks, feeling far away from the bustle of megalopolitan city life even though it is never really out of eyeshot.

But to be totally overwhelmed by the grandeur of Chicago, it helps to get your feet off the ground. Way off the ground, as in an airplane flying out of Midway Airport and crossing just south of downtown on a spectacularly clear day. I had that privilege on July 25, when I was heading east to New York City on a part-business, part-personal trip that pivoted around my 40th high school reunion.

Thanks to a well-located window seat and my trusty Sony Nex-3 camera, I captured some photos of which I am very proud and which I will always cherish.

All of the downtown skyscrapers are in clear relief, as is the way they sharply define the contours of Millenium and Grant parks. Navy Pier is visible in some photos, as are Soldier Field, the home stadium of the Chicago Bears, and the nearby museum campus. The final photo captures the lake shore from downtown all the way north to Evanston.

They are presented here for your enjoyment too. I hope you are able to pinpoint where you live or work, or other landmarks that are meaningful to you.

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