Last November I had the opportunity to go to Chicago, Illinois. I went for a national Landscape Architecture conference, so I was traveling with fellow designers and creatives. Chicago was an architectural wonderland for us. One thing that I haven't always been passionate about in my photography work has been finding patterns and shapes in architecture that inspire me, and walking the streets of Chicago made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.
One of the greatest parts about my trip was our super cool hotel. Walking into the Freehand Chicago, felt like walking into a Frank Lloyd Wright themed party in the 1970's. The sounds of soul music playing in the background partnered with the eclectic style gave birth to an effortless cool place to sit, stay, relax, and grab a drink. We stayed in a 4 person bunk suite that had the bunk beds you wished you had growing up, and with a view of the John Hancock building too? Can’t beat it. The floor below our room was a cafe that had both ends of your day covered. Cafe Integral serves up some of the best espresso and breakfast in the city, and the Broken Shaker bar was the perfect funky spot to grab a drink before heading out for the night. All of this is located in the heart of Chicago in the River North District. We were able to walk everywhere we needed to go and there’s even an El station a block away for easy access to the airport and the rest of the city. Not to mention there is a deep dish pizza spot next door. As soon as we checked in and dropped off our bags we were sitting down waiting for the impending disruption to pizza as we know it. For those people who have not tried deep dish, my explanation for it is that it's more like a pizza casserole than your traditional pizza. Truly in a league of its own, it’s a Chicago institution that you can’t miss out on.
What is there to do in Chicago? Besides soaking up the incredible urban scenery the city has to offer, there are endless opportunities. My advice to you: museums, museums, museums. Even just going to the Art Institute to get that classic Ferris Bueller picture of you in front of Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande? Worth it. But besides the art, make sure you check out Millennium park, Logan Square Area, Lincoln Park, The Miracle Mile, and Navy Pier. I highly recommend the 360 Chicago Observatory. If you want an truly elevated experience, go just before sunset and watch the shadows of the Chicago skyline dance on the shores of Lake Michigan. After we were initiated into the world of deep dish pizza, we asked some locals on where is the best place and we got the same answer from everybody: Lou Malnati's. Make sure you take a visit to the Lou while you're there and a word of the wise: make a reservation. Besides Cafe Integral, Chicago is probably better known for Intelligentsia coffee. The Stumptown of the Midwest, Intelligentsia serves up killer espresso in a cool and grungy urban vibe, in true Chicago fashion.
The Midwest is famed for it nice people and boy are they right. What truly made my trip to Chicago was the people we met. While at the Freehand we heard our next door neighbors and decided to bring over some beer and introduce ourselves. Turns out they were from Indiana (still Midwest) and were artists themselves. We instantly clicked with them and spent the rest of the day and night exploring the city together. It is that kind of welcoming spirit that makes Chicago such a special place. You're surrounded by this huge metropolis, yet the warm faces of its people make it feel like a small town community.
My name is Chad Andrew Evans and I am a designer & photographer from California.