When you have eight hours to visit a city from landing at the airport, to getting back there to catch your next flight there are serious limitations on what you can see in that time.

My flight was into Chicago O’Hare, quite a big airport to navigate and get into the city via the L train, but at least I didn’t have to go through customs.

By the time I got into the city I would only have four hours to look around then get back to the airport so I didn’t miss the next flight.

With no previous knowledge of the city, I decided to head for the waterfront and do a photo walk around that area.

I had come from Lexington and Chicago was a whole different beast. Largely low rise Lexington was tree lined, relaxed and pleasant in the suburbs I’d stayed by the University. Chicago was a big city and in four hours I would only get a glimpse of what it had to offer.

I walked the streets with the city blocks towering above me. I’d been to a couple of the major cities in the US, but nothing at this scale. Even the road menders were enormous.

My path took me in a circuit through the streets of the Chicago Loop from the train, through some impressive architecture, down to the green of Grant Park. Chicago is a very walkable city with many of its parks linked together. The grid layout makes it easy to navigate your way around, and the major skyscrapers mean you can keep your bearings as you walk.

I came to Lake Michigan and was wowed by the lakeside urban landscape. Above the trees of the park bordering the lake the skyscrapers of Chicago towered. I only knew the Sears Tower or as now called the Willis Tower. Still the tallest building in Chicago, its twin masts made it easy to spot.

I got down to the lake edge, not the best of days, but at least it wasn’t raining. I was still keen to see America and experience some of its major cities. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been there, but there are still some big cities that I’d like to see. After a gap, I might have renewed enthusiasm to explore the American cityscape.

But then it was all still new and my path took me up the lake side to the Chicago River. As I went back inland there were a number of bridges across the river and I swapped from side to side of the river getting photographs of the different city landscapes.

A huge water jet was spurting across the river at one point from the north bank. The Nicholas J Melas Centennial Fountain. The river was quite wide but not as wide as the Thames and had paths along its side. The people of Chicago were out walking and running, keeping fit in the outdoors though the skies looked ominous.

As I came back into the skyscrapers, I was coming to the end of my time and I looked around for a Chicago eatery to at least try some Chicago food. I wasn’t very successful, and ended up with a fairly boring sandwich.

It was time to find the train line, and head back to the airport. It had been a fleeting visit but at least I’d had a quick sortie around the city.

Main image by szekely (cc), flickr

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