Walking Chicago 2017

I had not truly discovered the art of wandering until this week. Allowing myself to explore Chicago on foot without a specific destination has allowed me to find aspects of this beautiful city I may have never come across otherwise. It seems that when I am in search of a specific place, I follow one given path and often use a form of transportation other than walking. This doesn’t allow for much exploration.

This week, I walked in wealthy residential areas, poor areas, through towns I hadn’t heard of, alleyways, along beaches, and even around the highest floor of the John Hancock tower. When I walk, I can stop. I can look. I can think, and I can reflect. There were a few times this week where I took a second to look around and made an effort to take in the fact that I live in this city now. I was able to see, hear and feel the city. Through these senses, I really got to know the city. Every day Chicago began to feel more and more like home.

On Tuesday, I vividly remember walking up the steps from the Chicago/State subway stop on the red line. As I began to approach the top of the stairs, my vision of the buildings around me began to expand. I felt the breeze blowing through my hair. I could hear the sounds of honking horns, talking people, moving trains and revving engines. The constant motion of my surroundings gave me a boost of energy. When I am on foot in Chicago, I engage with the city. It gives me an incredible feeling I can’t find anywhere else.

After this week, I truly believe that the true Chicago experience involves all five senses. At the end of each class, as instructed, I journaled about what I saw, heard, felt, smelled and tasted throughout the day. It was always at this point I reflected on how much more engaged I become with Chicago when wandering on foot, rather than going to a specific destination. Although Chicago is very beautiful and has incredible sights to see, there are many more elements to my perception of this city than just what I saw. On any given day this week, I would hear music of all genres, honking horns, construction, the rumble of the L, barking dogs and birds chirping. These are the sounds of Chicago. For the true Chicagoans, these sounds come together to simply make a daily background noise. The same goes for the smells of the city, the tastes of the city, and the feels of the city. When walking Chicago, all five senses are constantly at work. After completing my first week of “Walking Chicago”, I am off on the right foot to truly appreciate everything this city has to offer using all of my senses.