Sunday, July 27, 2008

In the city of Al Capone, Pizzeria Uno and a presidential hopeful

I have arrived in the city of Chicago, the most populous city in Illinois and the Midwest, with a population of almost 3 million. This is my first time in the Windy City. In 1994, when I first came to this country, I was yay close to making a trip. I got admission in the Medill School of Journalism’s master's program and was super excited. Turned out I didn’t have the money to afford the program, and I couldn’t take out a loan because I wasn’t a citizen.

Times have changed. I can vote now and am in the Democratic presidential nominee’s city, staying at the Conrad on the Magnificent Mile, thanks to NFRC and its summer meeting.

I am privileged.

My flight from Dulles to O’Hare was uneventful except for a tiny surprise in the Sky Mall catalogue. Along with tear stain removers for dogs and laser combs that “promote hair growth,” Sky Mall is selling “Energy films” that “lower utility bills up to 18 percent” and “repels solar heat in summer and retains interior heat in winter … also blocks 97 percent of UV rays.” They are cheap too: 24-inch-by-48-inch for $19.95, 36-inch-by-48-inch for $28.95 and 48-inch-by-84-inch for $38.95. Go to and enter item number 82685G.

Once in Chicago, I took the airport shuttle to the hotel because the Metro blue line was closed for construction. The driver was particularly chatty, and the beautiful and long drive through the city tantamounted to a sightseeing tour. The city of no-cell-phone-while-driving, famous for Wrigley Field and Buckingham Fountain, features some of the tallest buildings in the world: Sears Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the under-construction Chicago Spire designed by Calatrava. Other beautiful glass architecture in the city includes the 111 S. Wacker Drive, and developments such as the new east side sheathed in aqua glass. Soaring above the Chicago river and the Magnificent Mile, Trump's new tower is 92 stories high or 1,362 feet, enclosed in high quality reflective glass, and designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Calatrava’s Spire, the seven-sided glass tower, tapers and twists up 2,000 feet above a public plaza. When completed it will be the tallest building in North America. The 3-million-square-foot structure will contain 1,200 condominiums and aims for LEED Gold certification.

I am not sure if I’ll get a chance to see these amazing buildings up close and personal given the packed meeting agenda but, hey, at least I have the choice.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor, managing editor, Glass Magazine

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