I just flew back from Chicago, and to quote a great American philosopher– boy, are my arms tired!
After Marquette, Chicago might just be my favorite place in the U.S. And I’m not alone–it seems like every year almost everyone in Marquette pays a visit to Chicago, while it also seems like half the population of Chicago returns the favor. But I’m not surprised.
One’s almost exactly a hundred times the size of the other, but other than that, Marquette and Chicago are pretty much basically the same place.
They both have a Great Lake, parks, beaches with iconic buildings next to them, art, museums, farmer’s markets, bike paths, and– perhaps most importantly– some amazing food.
Of course, they also both have the tourists, the traffic, the sirens, the lack of affordable housing, a growing homelessness problem, and the smell of cannabis everywhere you walk.
But maybe it’s not a surprise the two places are linked together. After all, Jacques Marquette was the first European to discover what became the Chicago River. He’s so revered in Chicago, in fact, that they have everything from bridges to a famous old building–made partially from Marquette sandstone–named after him.
In 1868 Marquette–the city– burned to the ground. Three years later, Chicago did the same, and the first thing that Peter White and other Marquette civic leaders did was to send $500 toward the rebuilding effort, because they knew what it was like to have your city burn down around you.
Just like Marquette became known for sandstone architecture after its fire, Chicago became famous for the skyscrapers that started to sprout after theirs.
Maybe that’s why so many people from Marquette feel comfortable in Chicago.
Maybe that’s why Marquette, and the rest of the U.P., is marketed so heavily to Chicago.
So, the next time you see a tourist from Chicago in the U.P.–and trust me, you WILL see a tourist from Chicago in the U.P.–welcome them “home.” Even though their U.P. “home” may be just a little smaller than what they’re used to.
I’m Jim Koski, and that’s another slice of “Life in the 906.”