The city never sleeps


Liza McCarthy

I went to Chicago over spring break and got a chance to spend some time in the city.

Once the highway starts to trail off and parallels rickety railroads of seemingly rarely used trains, you know you’re getting close to the Windy City. Stemming from every which way, the tracks point to the city center of it all: Chicago.

Without fail, every dark, dreary alleyway steaming with some substance from a nearby storm drain is decorated with cartoonish works of graffiti. Without it, the brick walls—oftentimes crumbling beyond repair—would be bare, having no worth but to provide shade from the beaming sun to those who hide between them. 

Shops around those alley corners demonstrate demeanors that make their visitors question if they are, in fact, open for business or are closed down for good. Sometimes, the outdated facade propels lurking spectators away, sending them to a more populated portion of the city that would provide a sense of reassurance as they wander the streets on their shopping sprees. 

The aesthetic of Chicago can mean many different things depending on where you are. The older, less touristy portions of the towering city don’t provide as much notable entertainment; however, the heart of it surely does. 

Placed on almost every city block is a type of museum. These buildings do not shy away at making their facades true architectural masterpieces finished off with pillars and standing tall with crown-like toppers on their sky-reaching roofs.  

To match this majestic look, common stores that would usually be their own warehouse-sized structures are tucked and subtly camouflaged into city structures. Chicago is the only place I have ever seen a two-story Target or a five-story Nike store. Each store, shop, restaurant, entertainment venue, and mall is nestled into its own nook of the city. There is never much room to spare, yet they all find their place, conveniently located close together for shoppers’ ease. 

The city never sleeps. The bustle never stops. The lights never go dim.

Be careful where you choose to wander, though. Bright yellow, lemon-colored taxis and sleek, black Ubers race around the city blocks, always in a hurry to get their passengers to their next location. Mobs of businessmen and businesswomen chat quickly on their cell phones. 

One notable detail is that you’ll rarely see people on the streets walking massive Bernese Mountain Dogs or Great Danes. Instead, little purse dogs scuttle at their owner’s feet or are held for safety in their owner’s arms. They’ll even make appearances in stores, but the little dogs never make a peep, so they often go unnoticed. 

More of an indoor aspect of the city is how hard it is to catch a glimpse of the sun. With all the towering buildings blocking the view of anything more than a block ahead of you, reaching the edge of a building outline would be necessary to feel the true warmth of the sun. In the same way, the buildings serve as spectacular windbreakers compared to standing somewhere more open, keeping the edge off a less-than-generous winter season. 

The city itself is less than peaceful, and though spending a few days engulfed in its presence, too much of the busyness can sometimes be overwhelming. 

The city never sleeps. The bustle never stops. The lights never go dim.