Focal points Photography

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.