Summer in Chicago: Streams of people flood the sidewalks. Walking downtown, especially if you’re in a hurry, can be like a video game in which tactical maneuvering is essential. I noticed this the other day on State Street while I was rushing to run an errand. Then I realized: It’s time to re-post my series on how to walk mindfully in a bustling metropolis.
If you’re visiting a gigantic city like Chicago, welcome, and have a great time! Shopping, restaurants, theaters and unlimited attractions—there’s so much to do and see here. There are farmers markets, street fests and special events throughout Chicago all summer long.
We want you to feel at home here, take away great memories and return again and again. But just as it’s important to be a good host, it’s also important to be a good guest. So the following suggestions were garnered from several seasoned downtowners to help make your stay pleasant for us all. Think of it as rules of the road for city sidewalks. In fact, this applies to tourists and native downtowners.
Welcome to civilization
- Chicago is a classy town, especially downtown and the surrounding areas: Please exhibit self-respect by your dress and demeanor and practice courtesy to others.
- Refrain from spitting gum on sidewalks.
- Don’t litter; that’s trashy: There are plenty of waste receptacles for trash and recyclables.
- Beautiful planters with lush foliage abound. Respect the plants; they are life forms too.
- Watch where you’re going: It’s not okay to push, step on the back of people’s shoes, etc. Practice grace.
- Use of umbrellas on narrow sidewalks is tricky: If you use a beach-sized umbrella, it won’t be appreciated by others trying to squeeze by you.
- People-watching in urban areas is a rush. The city is a cornucopia of individuals with loads of flair. But don’t stare, point or laugh at others; it’s rude. Fascinating people make your life more fascinating; appreciate.
- If you smoke while walking, be aware that those nearby you and those following about a half block behind you are joining you in that smoke and no doubt don’t appreciate it. Cigar smoke is worse; one can smell it a block away as it lodges itself in city corridors. And please extinguish your cigarette or cigar in the proper receptacle instead of tossing it on the sidewalk.
- Sometimes one has to spit, but please don’t spit on a well-trodden footpath! Be discreet. Nobody wants to see that — or step on it!
- There’s nothing quite as repulsive as stepping on dog doo – a mishap that sticks with you until you can clean your shoes. If you and your canine are exploring downtown, don’t let your dog go on a prominent walkway, and if it happens, pick it up and dispose of it properly! Besides, if you don’t, that’s illegal; you could be fined $500!
The natives are friendly
- Chicagoans are generally friendly, will give directions, and may even agree to hold your camera to snap a picture of the two of your or your whole group.
- There are plenty of delightful street musicians playing all types of music; they would appreciate a donation of any size from you.
- You may encounter “Streetwise” vendors. They sell a local newspaper that gives some interesting insights into our city. These folks are homeless – but working; so please spring for the modest donation to buy the paper.
This was the first part in this series on navigating city sidewalks like a pro. Stay tuned for the next article which will be about getting up to speed and in step so that you will be in tune with the exciting, fast-paced choreography of the city.