Repetition and Nonsense in the Loop

A few days ago I was downtown to get my license plate sticker renewed. I took this time to wander around the Loop a bit.

The Loop is one of the weirdest anomalies about this city to me. It seems to me that it would make logical sense that the Loop, being the easiest possible place to reach from ANY train would be a bustling active party of the city and it’s nights/weekends. Instead the loop is almost strictly commercial with few things to do after 6pm on a weekday or on the weekends at all. This absolutely baffles me.

In the years I lived in NY I only once rode an MTA bus (and it was because some made me). Not so in Chicago, I ride at least one bus a day. In NY I didn’t need to. I could easily reach any part of the city using the subway system. Here in Chicago if I want to visit one of my friends on the west side I pretty much have to take a bus. The other option of course would be to take a train down to the Loop and then another back up to the west side, which is mind-numbingly dumb. Hasn’t this city heard of “crosstown trains?” This is not a new concept, virtually every other mass transit system has them.

So wouldn’t it make sense that my friend and I could split the difference and meet in the Loop? Too bad there is nothing to do down there. The city almost figured this out with Looptopia, but even then failed in execution. And of course the idea was eventually killed before it really got the chance.

Despite my disappointment with this neighborhood not living up to my ideals of it’s potential there is still a lot to be said for the Loop. One of my favorite things about this city is how even some of the most heavily trafficked and distinguished areas of the city can have a gritty and raw appearance. It’s no wonder that Chicago was chosen as the set of Gotham City two times now. That grit is what I was able to discover in shooting the Loop. There are many signs of life and some beautiful repetition in the architecture of the area. I just wish there was a reason to be down there at night and shoot. Maybe some day.

4 thoughts on “Repetition and Nonsense in the Loop

  1. Actually (outside of the bus situation) NYC is a lot like Chicago as far as things happening in it’s financhial districts. If the loop is the center of our commerce, then that would make it the equivelant of lower Manhattan (where nothing happens after hours). If not for Broadway, you could easily compaire Midtown to River North and etc, etc… I think the thing that killed the cross town transit system in Chicago is the fact that we are located in the Midwest. We used to have ground trolley systems that took people cross town, but Detroit being so close and Chicago always wanting to be cutting edge, we allowed the car companies to demolish the ground trolley’s (very similar to those in San Francisco)to sell more cars to Chicagoians. Too bad really, but with the invention of the bus tracker, bus travel has gotten MUCH better. Thoughts?

  2. I see the parallels but the difference to me is that Wall Street and NY’s financial district in general is not the central hub of the train lines… Times Square is however, which is teeming with things to do. This is why I find the Loop to be strange.
    And as for the trolleys, I’m not entirely sure that I understand your point. They had a trolly system in Brooklyn and other parts of NYC has above ground trains for a long time and they eventually ripped them out. My theory is that the originally smaller design for the city by the lake with no real “east side” inhibits this. It’s why the idea of a second Loop route through the north, west and south sides would make a lot of sense. to me.

  3. Oh, the trolley part wasn’t a compairison between the two cities…just more of a comment on the city.
    So what do you think of this, I may have ran it by you already….
    Chicago will ALWAYS be the “Second City” as long is it compairs everything it is or does to New York. You never see New York doing something and then saying “But how do we compair to Chicago in this?”. No way! They are NY and so they do it and just assume it’s good, because they did it. I hope Chicago get’s the same attitude about itself one day.

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