0
APA Institute
Want to See Real Chicago? Then Hop on the El!
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 15 page 22-22

APA members visiting Chicago for this year’s Institute on Psychiatric Services can count on plenty of the usual fare—bus tours and boat rides—to see the town.

Anchor for JumpAnchor for JumpBut one of the best and cheapest ways to get an introduction to Chicago (at least its North Side and downtown) is to take a ride on the Ravenswood Elevated train. For three years, when I lived in Chicago, I commuted downtown by catching the Ravenswood El (also known as the Brown Line) at Addison. While it was for me—as for thousands of daily commuters—principally a way to get to work, it was also an inspiring, daily reminder of the vastness and variety of the city.

And when visitors who wanted a relaxing way to get a feel for Chicago but who didn’t have time for lengthy tours (or the patience for city traffic), I always told them to hop the Ravenswood line.

APA members staying at hotels in or near downtown will find stops at the Merchandise Mart or any of several stations in a circular path around "the Loop." Traveling north, the Ravenswood intersects with other train lines for easy access to North Side landmarks, restaurants, and parks.

As the editors of Sweet Home Chicago: The Real City Guide (Chicago Review Press, 1993) note, a ride on the Ravenswood El is not unlike taking a double-decker tour bus in London—but without the tour fee. For the price of a CTA fare card ($1.50) you can conduct your own tour, with a vista of the city both east and west, riding above the noise and traffic of the city.

The Real City Guide, taking the reader on a ride from north to south, captures it well: "Starting out at almost any station on the North Side, you’ll pass blocks of typical Chicago residential streets. Loop-bound between Belmont and Armitage, the buildings get increasingly elegant; the view in both directions at the Armitage stop shows gracious two-flats with ornamentation just about at eye level. Looking forward, you get a good glimpse of the approaching Chicago skyline, with the John Hancock building off to the left and the Sears Tower straight ahead. Between the Armitage and Sedgwick stops, the track takes a few twists and turns, so you get a little roller-coaster action along with the sightseeing experience."

The track straightens and heads south after Sedgwick, with the River North gallery district immediately ahead, Old Town and the high-priced Gold Coast to the left, and the Cabrini-Green housing project to the right. After the Chicago stop, the train heads straight for the mammoth Merchandise Mart.

"Above the broad brick expanse of the mart you’ll see a sliver of green glass, the 333 West Wacker Building, and on top of that hovers the Sears Tower. Three generations of Chicago architecture in a single slice."

And then, as the Real City Guide notes, comes the best part of the ride: crossing the Chicago River into the urban canyon that is the Loop. On a bright day, with the sun illuminating the bridges and buildings, the view of the river from the train can be truly impressive. To the left are the twin towers of Marina City (known locally as the corn-cob towers), one of the city’s distinctive landmarks. To the right, 333 Wacker reflects the river’s gentle curve.

Once in the Loop, the train makes a turn east at Van Buren and passes the Harold Washington Library. To the left along Van Buren are two venerable old Chicago office buildings, the Fisher and the Monadnock. The train loops back north on Wabash Avenue, where it runs close enough to the buildings to allow visitors a peek inside the windows. (Mystery readers take note: the fictional Chicago private eye V.I. Warshawski, the leading character in dozens of novels by author Sara Paretsky, has her offices somewhere in here.) Heading back west on Lake Street, the train passes the Chicago Theatre on the left and the State of Illinois Building.

Then, it’s back over the river heading north again. ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for JumpBut one of the best and cheapest ways to get an introduction to Chicago (at least its North Side and downtown) is to take a ride on the Ravenswood Elevated train. For three years, when I lived in Chicago, I commuted downtown by catching the Ravenswood El (also known as the Brown Line) at Addison. While it was for me—as for thousands of daily commuters—principally a way to get to work, it was also an inspiring, daily reminder of the vastness and variety of the city.

Interactive Graphics

Video

NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).