River North

The Shamrock Club

The Shamrock Club (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityThe Brown Line snakes through River North toward the Merchandise Mart on a frigid day.  The temperature is lifting toward zero in a city snoozier than usual, one just beginning to stir after a paralyzing storm.

The backside of buildings opposite the Mart comes into view as the train snakes along. Snow outlines their fire-escapes, a perilous set of spiral stairs, garbage waiting to be collected by crews that, because of the weather, probably won’t arrive.  The normally bright windows of the design lofts are dark, their workers safe at home on a dangerously cold day.

A midget compared to the other buildings, the Shamrock Club is at the center of the scene.  In the perpetual shadow of the Mart, the dive bar asserts its presence professionally, its red doors cheery, its sign channeling some deep strain of Chicago history.

Given its tiny capacity, one may need the luck of the Irish to get a seat at the bar.  For the Shamrock has many denizens.  According to Time Out Chicago, “Strangers are regarded with suspicion here, so stay away from the regulars until you become one yourself.”



We were at the Mart shopping for a kitchen sink when I noticed that the showroom we were in had a marvelous view.

We continued looking at sinks.  I looked up, and suddenly the sky looked like this:

Cloudburst over Chicago, © Celia Her City

A Chicago rooftop during a cloudburst, © 2013 Celia Her City

Five minutes later.

View of west River North from an upper floor of the Merchandise Mart, Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

A view from the Mart just after a rain, © 2013 Celia Her City

View north from the Merchandise Mart just after a rain, © 2013 Celia Her City

As I watched, I saw the train that I take to work running through River North.

The Brown Line train, seen from an upper floor of the Mart (Chicago), © 2013 Celia Her City

That was the most exciting part, I think.

Click on images to greatly enlarge.

Landscape with memory

Landscape with memory

The el speeds past an indifferent landscape, much of it devoid of association or meaning.  Yet embedded in the landscape is a memory, like a tiny glimmer of quartz in all those dull rocks that lie on the beach, waiting to be picked up and looked at more closely.  In this case, the memory is of a hot summer night at the restaurant MK: happily threading through the crowds thronged and waiting for tables, ascending with my guy to a choice table in the loft, dressed in a bright yellow silk blouse and a white pencil skirt.

This photograph has been given a diffusion glow.