This is my first time visiting Chicago as a tourist. My previous visits were for transit purposes, as the city is a hub for flying to my birthplace of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My brother and his wife live downtown, close to Lake Michigan in the heart of the city and we are here for a few days to see the sights and spend time with them.
The population of the Chicago metropolitan area is 9.5 million people and includes from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Gary, Indiana. It is the third largest metro area in the country, behind only Los Angeles and New York. However, it is one of the slowest growing (0.55% growth), and will probably be passed by Dallas, Houston and Washington, DC in my lifetime. It is an anomaly as most of the large cities in the USA are in the Atlantic or Pacific coasts or in the south (Texas/Atlanta/Miami). In thinking about Chicago, it is the capital of the Great Lakes, with cities like Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toronto being some of the other population centers. You could also include Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Buffalo as an outer tier of cities. The region is growing slowly and has lost many manufacturing jobs in the past 15 years. Several cities are slowly depopulating in favor of better economies and nicer weather in other parts of the country. Chicago, like Detroit and Cleveland, is racially and economically segregated. I am curious on how climate change will affect the region. Walking around Lakeshore Boulevard and Michigan Avenue yesterday, my family remarked that it feels like New York City, with the sky scrapers and historic buildings. It differs in being cleaner, more spacious and less diverse racially.
Our first day we spent time with my brother and sister-in-law. The kids tried rock-climbing in the Maggie Daley Park and we soaked up the atmosphere of the city. We are staying in an Art Deco style building developed by the family of the department store magnate, Marshall Fields. We finished the evening sampling the world famous, Chicago-style pizza.