I don't know how other people approach a new city; I can only speak for myself. When the prospect of visiting New York City approached three and a bit years ago I had a thousand places I wanted to go see, most of them preconceived before the tragedy of September 11th. Indeed, had that particular event not occurred the twin towers would probably not have even been on my list; what can one say about a couple of hundred storey towers with little personality? Nope, I wanted to see The Battery, The Dakota, Central Park, The UN building, Greenwich Village, Soho, need I go on?
Of course, visiting New York City after September 11th changed all of that; ground zero was a must visit; and a sobering visit it was to be sure. By the time I got there, nearly two years afterward, it had been cleaned up and yet, as thousands have commented before, it was hard to look up into that empty bit of sky. For a particularly poignant and unexpected take on just one of the thousands of stories, try this[^] episode of Becker. That's TV dramatic/comedy writing at its best!
Well, that's a city I've read about and heard about and the whole nine yards. If I ever get to London there are thousands of places I want to see; Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate Cemetery (and, not so far away, Mrs Henry Woods[^] tomb). She's a mostly forgotten Victorian era writer who never wrote well enough to achieve critical acclaim or even scholarship but I enjoy her works. One day soon I may waste your bandwidth writing more about her!
If I get to Vienna the Ringstrasse and the Vienna Opera House are must visits. Likewise Moskva; Red Square, The Kremlin, Lenin's tomb and so on.
Of Chicago I had rather less knowledge. City of Al Capone and the lower eastside; the St Valentines Day Massacre and Carl Sandburg. I no longer have that volume of Sandburg I picked up cheap in a Williamstown, Melbourne, second hand book shop and I don't remember any specific words from his ode to an Illinois farmer but I can still remember seeing in my mind through his words the wind sighing over a field of wheat that stretched up to the sky!
Well there was one thing I remembered about Chicago and that was the Adams Ribs[^] episode of M*A*S*H. Given that we'd planned this trip half a year ago, about the time I got my HTPC, I decided to record that specific episode so I could go find Adams Ribs, if it existed. Spent a few minutes each night going through the updated 'guide' listings until the right episode appeared. Recorded it and watched it the night before we left (Tuesday last week).
This arvo I walked down Dearborn Street Chicago to the Dearborn Street Station. I record with regret that if Adams Ribs ever existed it doesn't anymore. I never really believed it did exist but I did imagine that perhaps someone would have made it happen. Of course I had the same disappointment 20 years ago this month when I drove into Moscow, Montana and found they didn't have a pub called 'The Kremlin'. Surely someone in the capitalist capital of the world could overcome their ideological scruples enough to cash in on the obvious? It seems not!
One of my regrets[^] on that New York City visit is that I walked right past the New York Public Library and didn't go in. I will have no such regrets this time; I walked past the Chicago Public Library and took the opportunity to enter. Impressive building. On the basis of half an hour walking through it I can't possibly comment on the quality of their collection but until someone proves otherwise I'll assume it's on par!