Learn How to Walk in a City
If you want to learn about a city you need to walk. Large cities are a walker’s paradise. You experience the city from the ground up. People from other countries know this. Walking is part and parcel of their daily way of life. Tourists from abroad know how to walk. Americans are ignorant toddlers in comparison.
There are worlds of discovery in Chicago from the downtown area, the Magnificent Mile, Old Town, River North, the Lakefront, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast, Hyde Park, Uptown, and other neighborhoods. Even walking off the beaten path of main arterial streets, strolling through side streets in neighborhoods is an adventure.
If you pay attention, you can learn some history while walking. Many buildings have commemorative plaques indicating a historical event that happened on the site or in the building. There are busts and statues of famous Chicagoans and others who contributed something to this city. Sometimes they are in out-of-the-way places, waiting for you to find them.
Every neighborhood I eventually lived in, I walked. I learned the pace, context, and nuances of the community and surrounding areas.
When I retired, I walked some of the neighborhoods I worked. A police officer sees places from the seat of a car, driving in square circles. You miss the uniqueness of the area. I worked in one place for almost ten years. When I walked it several times, I was surprised at what I missed or never realized existed. To this day, I still discover new things there.
I could go to any major city in the world and traverse the streets. I know how to walk on city streets. The first time I went to New York City, it did not take me long to feel right at home walking around. The same was true in other cities I visited, here and abroad.
Chicago was established as a city of commerce and industry. Time is money. Money is time. Chicago’s streets and public transportation system were designed to get people from one place to another and back efficiently. There is a hustle in the way people walk, especially in the business, shopping, tourist, and entertainment districts.
We walk with speed and purpose. Our only objective is to get from point A to point B and sometimes back as fast as possible. We do not have time to waste on lazy slugs who never learned how to walk on crowded sidewalks.
There are Rules of the Sidewalk for walking in crowded urban areas. The number one rule is, WATCH WHERE THE FUCK YOU ARE GOING!
It is not my responsibility to watch where you are going. I have enough trouble watching where I am going. Walking on city streets means dodging all the feral fribbles who do not watch where they are going. If they bump into you, it is your fault. They are the inconsiderate ones. They are in my way.
You walk. Walking means keep moving. You do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk, gawking at something or someone. You do not stop to take a selfie. You walk at the pace of everyone else. If you walk too slow or stop, you should get stampeded and ground into the concrete.
Walk on the right side of the sidewalk, leaving room in the middle for faster walkers who must be someplace yesterday. If you are window shopping, you stand as close to the building as possible, allowing pedestrians to pass by.
Members of the stroller patrol who have those asinine double or triple wide strollers should not walk in a busy area. They screw up the normal flow of traffic as they saunter with their spawns of Satan.
In this age of handheld communication, brainless techno-geeks walk down the street with their faces plastered to their phones. They are oblivious to their surroundings, other pedestrians, or vehicular traffic. It is incredible hundreds are not catastrophically injured or killed every day.
Phones are smart. People are stupid. Apple aptly named their iPhone. The i is for idiot.
If you have to text, sext, or tweet, step to the side, stop walking and do it. Let the rest of us normal people keep on our merry way.
One of the COVID-19 pandemic benefits was a vast reduction of humans in the commercial, shopping, and tourist areas. It was easy to walk and see things when you did not have the mindless masses causing sight blight. Now that restrictions are over, the hordes of pains in the ass are back, annoying us real walkers and making life miserable.
The only good way to learn about Chicago is to walk through it. But learn how to walk in a city first.