Depending on your approach, you might see ‘free parking’, if you happen to be reading it at the right time of day.
Many thousand people clamber daily up and down el stairs like these; how many thousand, Celia couldn’t begin to say. The stairs’ steel treads are noisy and unforgiving, sanded in winter to keep patrons from falling. Much life is lived in the shadow of the el, or right next to it, unflappably. Even scholars read right next to it, in this library.
It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s rumbly. It’s the drama of being under the el when the weather is crummy. Golden and gritty: that’s our city.
Yesterday’s was an unusually beautiful evening, a very clear crisp atmosphere turning bluer and bluer as night was falling, until it insensibly faded to black. It was great to be outside in that blue moment, when the color of the sky quickened all things.
There’s a special feeling to five p.m. in the city, perhaps especially now that it’s getting dark earlier. The lights form ribbons, and liberated workers race along the streets, giving the place a celebratory tone.
Yes, I do live in the city. Right in the city, not on its fringes or in the suburbs. Like every Chicago neighborhood, mine is laced with busy commercial streets. Here, the intersection of Belmont and Sheffield, seen at an off-peak time of day.
I’ve already begun bracing for the long night ahead: the ugliness of Chicago’s flat yellow-lit winter streets, long stretches of commercial dreariness, the harshness of nature against nature fully exposed.
I’m in the middle on the worry spectrum, but I do worry about safety when I’m in my car. I worry about getting into an accident as a result of not noticing some subtle danger around me. Tuned-out pedestrians, taxis, delivery trucks, and cyclists (like this one disregarding the traffic signal), add to the challenges of a drive through the Loop. The trains that periodically rumble overhead don’t help matters any.
That there are not more accidents surprises me, yet I’ve read that there were something like 2,500 accidents involving pedestrians last year.