One Immersive Week in Chicago: A Photoessay

For me, my Immersion Week at DePaul was all about exploration. I’ve been to Chicago in the past, but only very briefly, passing through the city or as a tourist. This week, I got to explore the city from a new perspective: that of a resident, a student, and a new member of the Lincoln Park and Chicago communities. The first day, we explored through Lincoln Park, which gave me a much better understanding of the neighborhood I will be living in for at least the net year. I had my first visit to the beaches that line Lake Michigan, which are quite different from the beaches in Southern California where my father lives (these are the only other beaches I’ve had any personal experience with). On our second day through the city, we walked through many different neighborhood and saw some real contrast within the city. Starting out in the Gold Coast and Old Town, we saw some of the wealthiest, most gentrified portions of the city. The streets were quiet, clean, lined with expensive luxury cars, each plot of land home to a large, expensive residence. Then, we moved further west, walking through areas like Wicker Park, a trendy neighborhood in the city, but also areas like Goose Island and Humboldt Park. These two sections of the city are much less refined; they’re not as clean, as friendly-looking, or as inviting, but they’re still filled with life and culture. Humboldt Park’s large metal Puerto Rican flags that arc over the streets give you a sense of history, diversity, and culture that wasn’t quite present in Gold Coast or Old Town. On our third day in the city, we visited Hyde Park on the south side. I’ve never gone any further south than the South Loop, so this was a whole new experience as well. Hyde Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the whole city, and there was evidence of that fact as we walked the streets. People of all different backgrounds walking around, ethnic restaurants, and many storefronts all contributed to the feeling of a lively, bustling neighborhood that’s proud of its identity. It also contrasts with the usual stereotype that surrounds the south side. Admittedly, the area is not free of violent crime, but our guide through the neighborhood expressed to us that it’s really not too bad, and that each one of us can do things to make it an even better, more inviting place to live. On the last two days, we went much further north, to Rogers Park and Albany Park. These two neighborhoods were not my favorite, as they didn’t have the sense of urban busyness that the others did. The streets were quiet, there weren’t nearly as many pedestrians, and there was a distinct lack of storefronts. These two neighborhoods both felt distinctly suburban, and this makes sense as they are at the edge of the city, on the very last L stops. Overall, this week gave me a much better look into the city, and I now feel a much stronger connection to the city than before. As a transplant to the Chicago area, this gives me much more faith that I’ll enjoy my time here, and makes me consider it as a possible permanent home.

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