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Old 05-29-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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Default Chicago is weird.

Remember that scene towards the end of The Blues Brothers where they finally reach the city with every LEO in northern Illinois on their tail, and Elwood says to Jake "This is definitely Lower Wacker Drive"?

I never really understood what that meant.

Here's a picture taken from E. Lake St. looking northeast. A building has recently been demolished, leaving a hole where you can see into the city-below-the-city.



Turns out that a large part of the downtown area is actually three stories tall. And not like Boston where they have below-ground expressways, there are actually two complete sets of local streets, one below the other, with a third layer below that.



At various locations, there are portals which allow you to transition between the two layers.




So, yeah. There's an Upper Wacker Drive and a Lower Wacker Drive. And for part of the run, there's even a Lowest Wacker Drive, which is below Lower Wacker.


How the hell did they ever think of building a city like this?
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:07 PM   #2
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Whoa. That is really freaking me out!
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:10 PM   #3
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Don't judge us.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:24 PM   #4
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If you notice, there is another layer of beams, where we are preparing to build another level on top. Before you know it, the Loop is going to be one big mass of a building.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:52 PM   #5
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So everything is just one big 3 story building. Strange.
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:30 AM   #6
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If you hang around there long enough you will eventually run into Dante!
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:57 AM   #7
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Gotham city really based after Chicago?

I can't wait to go in November!
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:39 AM   #8
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I love Chicago. Good memories
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Old 05-30-2010, 05:13 AM   #9
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Wisconsin can have the city. Nothing but a corrupt political machine

The 3 level thing is cool though!
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:41 AM   #10
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yeah and they reversed the flow of the river so their **** and trash wouldn't flow into the lake but instead into missouri.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:44 AM   #11
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Is the liar of the mole people where all the political machine gangster **** goes down?
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:58 AM   #12
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Makes you wonder if there are people holed up down there that think the Cold War is still on.

So are there actual business, residences, etc on the lower streets or is it really just a means of letting people get around without dealing with the coming and going traffic from business up top?
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
Is the liar of the mole people where all the political machine gangster **** goes down?
Seems to be where most of the Bein' Homeless **** goes on. Which makes sense, as I'd imagine that the temperature down there is relatively stable year-round. I haven't figured out how to actually reach that level yet, I've only seen it from above, though there do appear to be a few service vehicles down there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rccote
So everything is just one big 3 story building. Strange.
Yeah. It's not like you just have some elevated roadways, that's pretty common. They've actually elevated the whole downtown. IOW, as you're walking down the sidewalk, it seems like you're on the nominal surface of the earth, just like in any other city. There's nothing at all to indicate that you are actually walking on a raised platform two stories high, apart from the fact that the ground vibrates every time a bus goes by.

For Futurama fans, it is very much like the construction of New New York.

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Gotham city really based after Chicago?
As it turns out, yes. Some research has turned up that the underground chase scenes from the two most recent films were shot on Lower Wacker.

Makes sense, actually. In the original film, Gotham was clearly NYC, but in the newer films, they have a much more corrupt gov't. I'm not aware of any American city with a higher percentage of convicted public officials.


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So are there actual business, residences, etc on the lower streets or is it really just a means of letting people get around without dealing with the coming and going traffic from business up top?
Sort of.

All of the large buildings seem to extend all the way down to the very bottom, and are accessible from both the upper and lower levels. (as well as from below the lower levels, as I'll get to in a moment.) In particular, most of the parking garage entrances and loading docks are on the lower level.

There are some small businesses which exist only on the lower level. One example is the Billy Goat Tavern of SNL fame, which is accessible only from Lower Michigan Ave.

I have not come across any residences down there, apart from those of the cardboard box variety in the Lowest Lair.


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If you hang around there long enough you will eventually run into Dante!
Haven't seen Dante yet, but I have found some interesting stuff.

First, there's the Chicago Pedway system. Basically, this is a huge network of pedestrian tunnels running below the lowest level which interconnect most of the buildings in the loop. The idea is that when the weather sucks, you can walk pretty much anywhere without ever having to go outside.

They also have a subway system, which is kind of cute. It's just like a real subway, only smaller. (There are only 8 lines, and they all congregate in a central point.) And the platforms are weird as hell. At least, the ones that are actually below-ground are. Much of the system is elevated, but it runs below the Lowest Lair in the downtown area, as do the regional trains.

I entered the system at the corner of Randolph & Michigan, which took me to a Red Line station. I then walked through the Pedway to Washington Station, a Blue Line station. There, I passed through the turnstile and entered the platform. Since no train was there, I started walking down the platform, thinking to myself "Man, this is a hell of a long platform. How big are these damn trains?" Turns out the trains aren't very big at all. By the time I got to the end of the platform, I was now in the Monroe station, which is two blocks away. Then the train arrived. So, yeah, it seems that some station pairs are actually just one hella-long platform, with turnstiles at both ends. What sucks is that there's nothing I saw to indicate where the official limits of each platform are, so if I'd been in the middle when the train came, it would have rolled right by me and I'd have said "what the **** is up with this?"

Wound up at the University of Illinois East campus. Pretty fair-sized campus for a major city, but being a Saturday and summer session, the place was damn near deserted. Walked around for a while, admiring the uniformly bland brutalist-period architecture, wound up at the Richard J. Daley Library. Interesting place. In particular, they seem to have a relatively lax attitude towards physical security in their basement level. Lots of unlocked (or easily opened) doors with interesting things behind them. Still, I love university libraries, and wound up killing the whole day there. Re-read most of "Silicon Snake Oil" (boy, was ole' Cliff pretty far off the mark in hindsight) and discoevered a couple of new-to-me titles in my favorite genre, including "Approaching Zero" which I ordered from Amazon last night, in direct contradiction of Stoll's prophecy.


Today, the Harold Washington Library awaits. Just waiting for a load of laundry to finish up in the bedroom.
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Old 05-30-2010, 02:08 PM   #14
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Wow Joe, I can just see you snooping through the library opening doors and investigating

Since you seem to be a library fan, if you ever find yourself in seattle, visit our main library downtown. A-*******-mazing.
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Old 05-30-2010, 06:08 PM   #15
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When Canada invades, Chicago is totaly where the insurgency will root itself. Sweet.
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Old 05-30-2010, 06:30 PM   #16
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that was funny. Canada invading someone...
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Old 05-30-2010, 08:24 PM   #17
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2nd the motion for the Seattle library. The "red" level looks like a stanley kubrick set. that place is incredible and should be on anyones list of stuff to see visiting Seattle.
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Old 05-30-2010, 08:42 PM   #18
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You truly are a Renaissance man. Hope you enjoy all the sights and sounds. There are plenty of interesting things in the city.

Just for the sake of full disclosure I wasn't talking about Dante Alighieri I was talking about Dante my old crack dealer.
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Old 05-30-2010, 11:38 PM   #19
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Wow Joe, I can just see you snooping through the library opening doors and investigating
Heh. I tend to be a bit more conservative than the hard-core vadders, mostly because I enjoy not being in jail. If someone has posted a sign that says "Keep Out", or actually made a serious effort to lock a door, I'll leave it alone. But while I've only been busted for B&E once (and that was just a slap-on-the-wrist), I tend to hope that should it become necessary, mounting a legal defense for entering an unsigned area through an unlocked door in a public building during normal business hours shouldn't be too difficult.

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Since you seem to be a library fan, if you ever find yourself in seattle, visit our main library downtown. A-*******-mazing.
If I'm ever back there, I'll be sure to check it out.

I hit up Harold Washington today, the anchor library in the Chicago Public system.

Absolutely, utterly amazing.

I was actually a bit surprised by how new it is. That building can't be more than 10-15 years old. Not just the inside, the whole thing. Which was actually kind of a let-down. Part of the charm, IMO, is the sense of massiveness that you get from the old buildings. Granite & marble everywhere, lots of dark wood & small windows, old fixtures, you know what I mean. This building was very modern & airy. Lots of light wood, institutional whites and greys, a bit of stone, but not too much, card-readers on all of the interesting-looking doors...

And big. Really, really big.

It occupies an entire city block, and is 10 stories tall. Easily the biggest library I have ever been in, bar none. And unlike a lot of modern libraries, very little of it was wasted with fluff like meeting places, shitty art displays, and what have you. These guys are serious.

Still, a pretty cool place. Unfortunately, they closed at 5pm. I could have spent all night.


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You truly are a Renaissance man. Hope you enjoy all the sights and sounds. There are plenty of interesting things in the city.
Renaissance man may be a tad much. I just get bored easily.

Quote:
Just for the sake of full disclosure I wasn't talking about Dante Alighieri I was talking about Dante my old crack dealer.




Now, I do have some social commentary.

First off, y'alls homeless people suck at panhandling. Maybe I'm just jaded from having spent so much time in NYC, but I expect to be entertained while you're accosting me for money. Make a funny sign, wear a silly costume, train a cat to perform selected works from Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, do SOMETHING to make yourself stand out from the crowd. At least in Manhattan, the bums show some pride in their work. Around her, they're just lazy.

And one of the guys who hit me up for change today was wearing a bluetooth earpiece. WTF? Ok, so I realize that getting landline service to a cardboard box can be a problem, but hell, my cellphone doesn't support bluetooth- shouldn't he be giving ME spare change?


Now, a disclaimer. I don't mean to sound like a racist here, but this next complaint lands squarely on the shoulders of the African-American community, as they have thus far accounted for 100% of my observed data set:

What the **** is up with walking into a Chinese take-out place and ordering fried chicken? It's not on the menu, and while I realize that Americanized Chinese food may not bear the strongest resemblance to its Cantonese namesake, fried chicken is about the furthest ******* thing I can possibly imagine from the Real Deal. Do you see me walking into Popeyes and asking for zha jiang mian? And the worst part? They always have it! How the hell did this relationship evolve?
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:24 PM   #20
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New sig matirials there J.P.

"Do you see me walking into Popeyes and asking for zha jiang mian? And the worst part? They always have it! How the hell did this relationship evolve?"
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