Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Loop from afar

I was born and raised in Du Page County, Illinois. When I lived there, there were commuter towns stretched along the rail lines that ran west from Chicago, but north and south of them were farms. The Washington Street that ran in front of my house in Lombard was said to be on the exact latitude as the one in Chicago--we were straight west of the Loop, in other words.
About once a year, I'd hear from someone who was driving east on a particularly clear morning--usually it was told to me by a kid reporting what his father had said--that they saw the tall buildings of the Loop from Lombard. I always doubted it. It is 20 or so miles, and I just thought it couldn't be true.
My wife and I went back to spend Thanksgiving with her sister, and for a night we stayed on the eighth floor in a hotel on Butterfield Road, maybe the most rural place I was able to get to as a boy, at least in bike riding distance. Maybe 3 miles, no more, south of where I grew up. It is not rural anymore. I woke up before light, and looked out the window, trying to get my bearings, wondering which way the window was facing. The beginning of the sunrise told me I was looking east. When I came out of the shower, and looked again, there on the gray horizon, it looked like I could see the Loop. I did not believe it at first, but it sure enough was. I'm pretty sure I made out the shape of Big John.
Is the eighth floor 80 feet off the ground? I still don't think anyone saw the Loop from ground level, but if the light were right.....?

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