My wife and I recently went to Chicago to see some mutual friends of ours. It was our first visit to that part of the country, and proved to be one of the best vacations I've ever taken.
First of all, aside from one unfortunate individual on the El who had a button on his man-bag that read, "When Clinton Lied, No-one Died," the attitude is very patriotic. There are American flag stickers and "Support Our Troops" labels on almost every car. That surprised me, being that Chicago is largely Democrat territory.
The sentiment is even stronger in southern Illinois, where we traveled to as a side trip (to the town of Olney, one of only three places in America with white squirrels). You wouldn't want to be an anti-war activist in that part of the country, I assure you. Those people live in the greatest country on earth and they know it. On the side of one farmhouse we passed - and it's all farming land past the small city of Kankakee - somebody had painted an American flag and wrote in large letters "PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN."
Last Wednesday (May 4), we went to see the city proper and took the Blue Line all the way to Washington station in the heart of the downtown Loop. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Chicago has underground subway stations, in addition to the above ground and elevated ones..
Chicago has a much more comfortable feel to it, just like my native Boston has - no feeling of menace as with New York City. We walked up ritzy Michigan Avenue to the Tribune Tower. This is a building I'd long wanted to see, ever since learning about it in an American Architecture class in college fifteen years ago. It's every bit as beautiful as I'd expected it would be, one of the loveliest and most fascinating edifices I've laid eyes on.