seeing the city of chicago is a difficult task.
i’ve spent the last two years of my life here and taken thousands of pictures in attempt to see the city, and i’m just now scratching the surface of real seeing. when researching how to take pictures of architecture, a common piece of advice i received was to not take a picture of the whole building, but rather the pieces of the building that are unique. in other words: focus on the essence of the thing.
i think the same rule holds for seeing a city. in order to see chicago, we have to see its essence. but what is chicago’s essence?
if you ask google, you’ll hear that it’s the skyline and the buildings. if you ask the tourists, you’ll hear that it’s navy pier or the magnificent mile. if you ask my friend keegan, you’ll most likely hear that it’s the trains. if you ask the news, you’ll hear that it’s the political corruption or the segregation or the violence.
i think that chicago’s essence is all those things and more. this seems contradictory — we tend to think of an essence as singular — but i believe chicago’s essence lies in the synthesis of these perspectives…it is not the view from the 94th floor of the hancock or from the interior of a gutted parking garage, but the view from each understanding that the other view exists.
viewing the city this way means that, as you experience a new aspect of the city, you almost need to re-experience the aspects you’ve already viewed. for now you have another lens through which to view all these previously viewed experiences, and this new lens will enrich your understanding of them.
it’s a time consuming endeavor, but what you’ll see is totally worth it.