I think I might be allergic to cities. Last weekend I got to visit my sister in Chicago and I couldn’t stop sneezing. You would think that the lack of nature in Chicago would have alleviated my spring allergies, but that didn’t seem to be the case at all. Oddly enough, my return to the land of pollen (aka Spokane) was accompanied with little sneezing at all.
My abnormal city allergies actually align with my natural distaste for cities. I don’t mind visiting cities, but I would never want to live in one long-term. Here’s a list of some of the reasons I don’t like cities: they’re loud, there are a lot of awful smells, cars, car fumes, traffic, honking car horns, ambulance sirens, how stressed everyone is, crowds of people, how fast everything is, pavement, skyscrapers, how expensive everything is, how obsessed everyone is with making money. The list goes on, but that’s what I was able to think of right now.
That being said, I actually had a great time visiting Chicago. The highlight of the trip was obviously spending time with family, but another thing I took away was actually an appreciation for the architecture of the city. One of the touristy things we got to do was a boat tour on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The tour was a couple of hours long, and the guide talked a lot about the architectural history of the buildings we were passing. The first thing that blew my mind was how tall some of the buildings are. Sears Tower alone is 108 stories and 1500 ft tall! In addition to Sears tower, there is a skyscraper built over train tracks on top of columns, a building that looks like a normal skyscraper but is somehow balanced on a ridiculously skinny base, a building with holes in it, a building with crazy ridges in it, an angled building, a curved building, and even a building that looks like a champagne bottle. And then there’s the fun fact that they somehow reversed the flow of a natural river!
On Sunday morning, I took a long walk by myself through the skyscrapers down to Buckingham Fountain. As I walked, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing things that humans have created in Chicago. At the same time, it made me feel a little sad. Though these man-made marvels are absolutely stunning, their creation has led to that list of all the things I dislike about cities.
During my walk, I thought about how amazing cities must be in heaven. Humans have an incredible capacity for creation, so just imagine how amazing it would be if this creation did not defile the environment, but instead augmented it. A city would no longer be a loud, dirty, and smelly place but would instead be a magnificent wonder of the natural world.