June 22, 2007

Walkin' Downtown

To be honest, I was kind of glad that my afternoon appointment was postponed yesterday, because it allowed me to partake in one of my favorite activities - walking downtown.

I had always grown up in a city, so for me, the ability to just pick up and explore downtown was taken for granted. The only time I really missed it was when I lived in Eugene, Oregon for a little under a year - yes, I got to walk around my block (I lived not too far from the University), but downtown Eugene was drive through and you'll miss it.

Downtown St. Louis was an easy transition back - I lived right near the small rail that went downtown, so I never had to drive. (In fact, several natives thought I was crazy, but to me, driving downtown is a sin. They complained if they couldn't find a parking space right near their destination - to me, it was a given that I would have to park a ways away). St. Louis' downtown is not only immensely walkable, but has also undergone some radical changes while I lived there. Washington Avenue, once a ghost town of old shoe factories and older buildings, is now the center of night life. Several buildings that were never inhabited are now towering office complexes. In fact, a mall that looked like a bad 1980s science fiction movie set is now being considered for condos.

However, downtown Chicago is the ultimate (and I admit, I probably should check out downtown NY) - first, even when I came back a few months ago, I had forgotten how big downtown Chicago was. But more than that, downtown Chicago has a series of areas that blend almost effortless into one another. Retail on State, offices further west, north near the Magnificent mile - all of these blend together into a nice, scenic stroll.

And of course, to finish off the tour, a perusal of the singular piece of genius known as Puppet Bike. Although many prefer driving around downtown, amidst traffic and snarls, the real magic of Chicago happens on foot.

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