One of my favorite local Chicago bloggers is John Greenfield, a bike advocate who also documents walks down the major thoroughfares of Chicago. His photo-laden montages of Chicago’s interesting streets (including Grand Avenue, Halsted Street, Belmont Avenue, 63rd Street, and many others) are fascinating reads and great glimpses into the multitude of local cultural enclaves.
Over the years, I have enjoyed my own long walks through various areas of metro Chicago. I frequently walked from my former Rogers Park apartment to the Loop via the lakefront, and while living in Evanston I would walk all the way up to Wilmette. Now that I live in Hyde Park, I’ve been exploring the south lakefront of the city both by bike and on foot.
I decided to try out walking from my place in Hyde Park all the way up to DePaul University in Lincoln Park, which clocks in at about 11 miles. I had to teach a class at 6 pm that day, so I decided to leave around 1 pm, knowing that I could always hop a train once downtown if I wimped out. Though it was the middle of November, this particular day was sunny and around 70 degrees, making for particularly pleasant walking weather.
I used the 51st street Lake Shore Drive overpass to access the lakefront. Here’s a shot of my neighborhood (South Kenwood, which is technically not Hyde Park, though I live on the dividing street between the two neighborhoods). Having this overpass right next to my building is a huge plus for living in this area.
This stretch of the lakefront bike path is significantly less crowded than the stretch from McCormick Place up through the Loop and Lincoln Park, and I was in relative solitude despite the warm and sunny day. The city skyline is clearly visible in this shot, and I knew that I’d be passing all of these buildings before arriving at my destination.
At 47th Street, the trail splits for a brief stretch, and you have the option of either climbing the hill or taking the flat path near the lake. I opted for the low road.
I love the art deco high-rises contained in South Kenwood. The Narragansett and the Powhatan provide real architectural interest amongst the plainer 1960s and 70s high-rises of the area.
Oakwood (41st Street) Beach was completely silent as I walked past, save for the pack of seagulls chilling out on the sand.
McCormick Place emerges from the horizon as I continue north as do Prairie Shores and Lake Meadows, the mid-rise buildings along Martin Luther King Boulevard.
A large swath of the parkland along the south lakefront is being converted to a natural prairie habitat. I saw a coyote wandering along this stretch of land back in the summer.
As I rounded the curve by McCormick Place, I saw that all the boats had (sadly) vanished for the season. Soldier Field and the new South Loop skyline are visible front-and-center in this shot.
This stretch of trail around the Shedd Aquarium has got to be one of the most drop-dead gorgeous views of downtown Chicago.
Though I was now on the south end of Grant Park right in the heart of the city, most of my companions consisted of seagulls.
Traffic on the path started to pick up a little as I crossed the Chicago River.
I was starting to get pretty seriously fatigued as I neared Oak Street Beach.
As I neared North Avenue, where I would cross under Lake Shore Drive and chug through the city the last mile or two to DePaul, I paused for a look back on the John Hancock Center and the Mag Mile, a view I was extremely familiar with after all my gig commutes downtown from the North Side.
North Avenue was a piece of cake. On my walks from the north side south to this area, I always felt like I’d “arrived” when I hit this stretch, which is the border between the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. This day, I also felt that sense of arrival.
As I hit the corner of Belden and Halsted, it dawned on me that I’d now have to teach a two hour class–not a fun prospect after walking for nearly four hours! I stopped off for a burrito and about a 1/2 hour sit (collapse), then got my creaky bones over to the music building, where I taught a very mellow class before taking the train home.