Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An American Studies: CHICAGO

Beyond the big moments of our day in the city, what were some of the little things you noticed as we took an entire day to explore a different environment than your "normal" daily experiences? Think about the people we saw and heard, the buildings, the use of space, etc., and keep in mind that your own surroundings are just another type of construction...

17 comments:

Lily Schroeder said...

I thought "Jitney" was great! It is very interesting to observe another area of the city in which there is a different racial makeup, yet so close to us geographically-- North of Chicago and South of Chicago. It was interesting to hear the reactions from the other people in the audience. I felt that they may have related to the play more and got some jokes that we may not have, hearing their laughter and clapping, because culturally, they may have been more familiar the phrases and heard more of some terms and slang that were used during the performance.
In addition, I thought it was interesting how August Wilson chose to only write one female character into this particular play because the 70s were a time when women were gaining more equal footing in American society. Was the issue of women's rights as prevalent in the African American community at the time?

Maddie said...

Although I haven't always lived in the area, I've been going to Chicago since I was very young, and the city has always felt so different than the suburbs where I've lived. And for the past 3 years, I've been taking the train downtown everyday to dance at Randolph and State Street, so I've gotten to know a certain part of the city very well. However, I feel like I, and many other non-city dwellers, generalize when it comes to Chicago. Some of us think of skyscrapers and Lake Michigan when Chicago comes up, but there are so many different neighborhoods that are distinctly different. North Michigan Avenue is part of Chicago, as is Wrigley Field and the Art Institute, along with Mitchell Tower at the University of Chicago Campus. On our excursion, I noticed even further the great variety of Chicago. Driving on Lake Shore Drive gave a completely different picture than the Kennedy Expressway, but both scenes are Chicago. I wonder, what comes to mind when someone who's lived in Chicago their whole life thinks of the city, versus suburban school kids like us?

Lily Stein said...

When I think about Chicago, I am often reminded of how crowded and compact it is. There is a quite minimal amount of space between buildings, houses, cars, and even people walking through the streets. The part of Chicago that we were in, though, gave me a new perspective on this. I was shocked to see a Japanese garden like the one we visited because tranquility and peace have never been words that come to mind when I think about the city. One thing in particular that stood out to me in the garden was the light. Often times while walking downtown, the enormous buildings block out the sunlight, but at the garden it was the complete opposite. I was in awe that this peaceful, relaxing place could be a part of a city like Chicago.

Nicole Popowski said...

I loved how this field trip combined so many different elements- the park, Jitney, and the photo museum. You realize that Chicago really is enormous, and there's much more to do in the city than just visit Michigan Avenue. I really loved seeing the photos taken by Doug Rickard. The way he used Google Street View to create those strong images was extremely unique. Just seeing simple pictures, like the one with two people outside of a closed discount store, made me think about the different neighborhoods in Chicago. It was great seeing the contrast between Hyde Park and Winnetka. Although we were on the "South Side" the ivy-covered buildings and university area reminded me of our communities back home. So yes, they are located in contrasting areas, but maybe the two aren't so different after all.

Zach Peltz said...
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Elisa Hillman said...

To think of the specifics that I noticed on the field trip forced me to reflect deeper about my experience. One of the main things I realized that I noticed in Chicago, which contrasted with where I live on the North Shore, was how the people in Chicago are more individual. Specifically at the play, you could assume based on people’s clothing and company that they all came from different walks of life. However, in the North Shore, the people are more conformed than Chicagoans. Most obviously, we’re all dressed very similarly because we tend to buy the from the same stores and purposefully dress the way others do. Not only do we dress similarly, but even the way our neighborhoods are spaced creates a feeling of conformity. In Chicago there is a variety of buildings and types of living spaces. However our streets are in organized grids, the houses are spaced equally on similar sized lots, and each looks alike to the houses next to it. Personally, I feel that the appearance of the North Shore demonstrates how the people living here think very similarly too. We hold the same values, and lead similar lives. When in Chicago, it was refreshing to be reminded that there are countless other types of people and lifestyles in this world besides the lifestyle we see everyday living in the North Shore.

Rachel Hoying said...

I agree with Elisa that the people we saw in Chicago seemed to be much more individual than people in the North Shore. One think that struck me was how many people showed up to Jitney on their own. When they got there, many people seemed to sit next to people that they recognized or complete strangers, but it was fairly noticeable that many people came alone. This is a huge difference from the north shore, because in the north shore, many people are uncomfortable with being alone in public places. Most people from the north shore chose to travel with at least one friend. Its almost impossible to go to a movie theater alone without feeling judged. I think being more individual and breaking off from our friends every once in a while is definitely something we could learn from different areas.

Heidi Blumenthal said...

The excursion to Chicago opened my eyes to the extreme division in class that exists in Hyde Park. It was very interesting for me to witness the different people in the audience in the play Jitney, compared to the people around the University of Chicago. Both of these groups of people live within 10-15 mins from each other, yet their little community is isolated from the other because of the division of class. This underlying theme was present in the play Jitney. In Jitney they addressed the idea of how the division of class forced them to stay within certain neighborhoods, and have certain jobs. Social mobility was only available with a rise or fall in class to those who succeed or failed. This division of class is not a hidden concept, it is also relevant to the suburbs. When the swim team went to Hinsdale Central this weekend, they continuously were saying, "You guys are going to win because you are from Winnetka and are all fast and rich." Not only does this assumption not make sense but it's thoughts like these that cause the Chicago area not to progress forward. These stereotypes and divisions are things that have historically been an issue and are still prevalent today, which was evidenced to me through our excursion and my swim meet.

alex wolkoff said...

When we went to Chicago we visited multiple environments, from the peaceful garden, to the colorful play, and the entertaining photography exhibit. However, I felt I really got to explore and look at a different environment when we went to lunch. Since we had the chance to go off on our own to find a place to eat, I really had a chance to look at all the buildings and people around us. As Elisa and Rachel mentioned above, I could see a lot more individualism in Chicago than in the North Shore. For example, the houses that we walked past all had something very unique about them. One house in particular had a very modern theme to it, with its glass windows and creative architecture, while the house right across from it had a more conservative and quaint look, with its white picket fence, and its simple white door. Personally, this sharp contrast was quite surprising to me just because one cannot usually find this similar contrast in the same neighborhood in the North Shore.

Laura said...

Like many people have commented above I really did notice the individualism of the people who lived in the city. Their whole sense of style from their clothes to their hair was really personalized and you could almost see who they were as people, what their personality could be like. I do agree that in the Northshore area, people tend to dress the same, go to the same stores, have the same haircuts; everything kind of blends together.
Also being able to see the garden we went to really opened my eyes to the different parts in Chicago. The first things that come to my mind when someone mentions chicago are the tall sky scrapers and busy streets; however this garden was nothing like the image I had in my head and it gave me a totally different view of the city.

Lauren C said...

I really enjoyed the field trip to Chicago this past week. In particular, I loved being in an urban environment that contrasts so much with what I am accustomed to on the North Shore. The city is such a vibrant and diverse area with many different types of people. The racial make up of the city also differed much more than what I am used to in my daily life. I thought it was also interesting how few people there were in Osaka Garden compared to the area around the Court Theater and the University of Chicago even though these places are a part of the same city. The garden felt like an oasis inside of a thriving city. I agree with Laura that being in the garden gave me a different idea of what kinds of places were in the city of Chicago. Overall, I had a great time on the excursion and saw what experiences the city has to offer.

David Eagen said...

I was especially struck by the distinct neighborhoods we saw throughout our field trip. It was interesting to travel along the lake on our way down instead of zipping down the expressway into the heart of the city. The lakeside mansions of Winnetka and Kenilworth became small apartment complexes as we traveled south through Evanston and Rodgers Park. As we discussed in class, the social classes are geographically defined in Chicago. This means that people of wealth tend to live in the same areas. I saw this when we were in Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. It was a surprisingly nice area between relatively crime-ridden parts of the city. Perhaps the Osaka garden's secret message was a metaphor for Hyde Park; a hint of tranquility in an otherwise bustling world. Regardless of the neighborhoods, I noticed that wherever we went, strangers we encountered would often give a smile or a "hello". Like the Frank Sinatra song, Chicago is not just the flare, its "the people too. People who smile at you". Chicago is really "My Kind of Town".

Andrew Gjertsen said...

I really thought that the Geocaching left a lasting impression on me. Going along with the connectedness theme, leaving an object for others to find and add on to is extremely intriguing. Knowing that you are just another piece of a larger puzzle of now connected people is incredibly rewarding. Now in love with the connectedness, I went as far as downloading the $10 Geocaching app on iPhone, which pinpoints more "geocaches" on a map of your surroundings. In addition, I am now able to create geocaches of my own to try and inspire a new wave of connectedness among more people. In conclusion, the thought of myself being a part of a more intricate spider web of people of all shapes and sizes throughout the Chicagoland area is extremely gratifying.

Alexis B said...

The Most memorable "little thing" I noticed was the peace and quiet of the Osaka Japanese Garden. When Mr. Bolos told us that we were going to the garden, a place not many people knew of, I was a little skeptical. I didn't get why we would there before Jitney. However, it turned out to be my favorite part. I love finding and being in very quiet, secluded places, and the thing that was most striking to me was that a serene place like the Osaka garden could be found behind The Museum of Science and Industry! Mr. Bolos told us to think about what the meaning of the garden was. I decided that the true meaning of the garden wasn't just about the garden, but about anywhere in the world, following our theme of connectedness. Even in the busiest of places, like the bustling city of Chicago, you can still find a peaceful place if you look hard enough.

Sarah Henzlik said...

I think the most memorable little thing that I took away for the past week's trip was that Chicago really is a great city full of surprises and diversity on every corner. I think that some on the North Shore tend to stay isolated in their respective suburbs and only go to places that they are familiar with. For instance, in today's class discussion, we talked about how some people define a neighborhood by how 'nice' or 'bad' it is. I don't think these are fair representations of a community. On the trip specifically, I really enjoyed seeing just a slice of the city by travelling to neighborhoods such as the area of U of Chicago, that I had never been before. With a city as big as Chicago, I hope to spend a lifetime learning more about the great city on the lake.

Jack Rosen said...

I thought the trip was a great experience and I got to see people, buildings, and neighborhoods that I am not used to seeing on a day to day basis. First off, "Jitney" was amazing because of the great acting and conflicting plot. I thought that the stage design was especially interesting because there was seating that surrounded the stage, as opposed to a traditional theatre where the whole audience faces the front stage. This gave the audience a different perspective of the action in the play. It was clear that the students of New Trier were very different than the majority of the crowd members and it was interesting to see how they were especially connected to the acting on stage. For example, many people reacted very emotionally to certain lines or jokes that may not have struck the average white kids as interesting. Overall, it was great to see some different scenery and interact with people we don't come in contact with on a day to day basis.

Jeremy Noskin said...

This of one of the most memorable field trips I have ever embarked on. Most people stereotype the south side of Chicago as infamous for crime, but Osaka Gardens was real eye-opener. Its tranquility and beauty was unmatched and not commonly found in Chicago. The play "Jitney" was also very instrumental. It offers a point of view that differs from the north shore. I learned how middle-class workers value every job and rely on their job to support their family. The actors were phenomenal and really captured the essence of middle-class, 1970's, African-Americans. Then we went to the Museum of Contemporary Photography briefly. I found the exhibits to be very interesting. Especially the 1600 Pennsylvania Av. and backdrop exhibits. The 1600 Pennsylvania Av. demonstrated the idea of the perception of fame and how the White House is generally associated with this address. However, there are many other residencies with this address. The backdrops showed how a simple screen can be transformed into a music video or news studio. Overall, this field trip was a great experience and I am privileged to have the ability to go on this trip.