I live in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, very near to the John Hancock Building, Water Tower Place, Michigan Avenue and the endless stream of tourists that shop there. Living so close to great shopping is fun for me, bad for my wallet. Michigan Avenue is a great place for people watching and being so close to the lake gives me no excuse not to run along the Lakeshore path. But one of my favorite things about my apartment is the location of the CTA train stop that I use (also known as the “L”).
I often take the Red Line to visit my friends and family in Lincoln Park; getting off at Fullerton is so easy, and when I am super lazy I get off at Fullerton and switch to the Brown Line to get to Brookie’s house. The Red Line is also very convenient for getting to all the bars in Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville and Lakeview.
The L stop that I frequent most is the Red Line stop of Chicago and State. “State Street, that great street” is actually great for shopping too, but Chicago Avenue is notorious for being a sketchy street. I usually start walking down Chicago Avenue at Fairbanks, across the street from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This part of the street is actually very nice, with a couple of parks and an historic fire department building.
Then comes Michigan Avenue…PEOPLE EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME (except in the middle of the night, which I have experienced a few times when returning home from the bars). Continuing down Chi Ave one passes Anthropologie (one of the most beautiful stores ever), Nordstrom Rack and a few fancy hotels. This is where it starts to get interesting. On the next block there is a “Checks Cashed Here/Currency Exchange” place; RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM A GIORGIO ARMANI STORE! Do you think people who shop at Armani ever need to get their payday checks cashed immediately?
Down the next block are a bunch of food/coffee places, including a Jimmy John’s (seriously still freaky fast in the city and delivered by a hipster on a bike), Chik-Fil-A (never open on Sunday, the only day I’m hungover enough to crave it), Starbucks, a
fro-yo place (which I’m sure I will frequent often in the warmer months), Qdoba and the most entertaining place in the vicinity, the 24 Hour McDonald’s.
I’m certain that the regular police presence near the entrance to the L is only because of this 24 hour McDonald’s. It attracts homeless people, drug dealers, drunk people, unsuspecting tourists who strayed too far from Michigan Avenue and people who live in the area that just want some chicken nuggets and a McFlurry (like me). I enjoy seeing the policemen though, because they make me feel safer, and they are always cute. And once one of them saved me from a crazy homeless man.
It was Halloween weekend and I was returning to my apartment from Wrigleyville alone (probably not a great idea), dressed as Minnie Mouse. I was very proud of my mostly homemade costume and sequin Minnie ears which I had bought the last time I was in Disneyworld. As I descended the escalator up to Chicago Ave with other still drunk passengers I was lunged at by a crazy old homeless man. “MINNIE MOUSE!” he yelled as grabbed me. I was still a little inebriated, so at the time it seemed like more of a hug and I wasn’t frightened, but looking back on it, I probably should have been more scared. Luckily one of the cute members of the Chicago PD was there to tell the guy to back off and I scurried home.
That is the most memorable thing to happen to me on Chicago Ave (so far…), but I’ve also seen/smelled people smoking pot, witnessed 2 drag queens dressed as Lady Gaga get into a cab (also Halloween weekend) and more recently heard 2 homeless men discussing their New Year’s Resolutions. I’m sure many more adventures await me on that bizarre street and I will greet them with a smile (unless it is someone coming at me with a switchblade).