When the thermometer drops and down coats come out of closets, some Chicago Greeters head off to more comfortable climates. But hardy volunteers who remain in town find plenty of visitors stoked to stroll the chilly streets. In Part 2 of our Chicago Greeter blog series, Greeter Janice Rosenberg shares her story on braving the cold for the good of Chicago - and those who've come from around the world to see it.
By: Janice Rosenberg
Most visitors arrive prepared for Midwest winters, but Greeters who schedule dates remind them: "Bring hats and gloves. Wear boots and scarves. Layers are the best protection against the wind." While us Chicagoans know this fact first hand, it bears repeating to visitors!
One December day, I signed on to show a couple from Brighton, England, around Millennium Park. The date arrived with the mercury stuck at five degrees. Did we let that stop us? No! Bundled from head to toe, convinced the strong sunshine would keep us from freezing, we visited the park, stopped for hot coffee and warmed up with a Brown line ride around the Loop, making the day a winter winner.
On frigid weekends, InstaGreeters know how to show off the city from carefully selected indoor viewing points. Inside an airlock at Macy's, facing State and Washington streets, I describe Daniel Burnham's Reliance Building. Ducking inside the James R. Thompson State of Illinois Building, I relate historical and up-to-date information about City Hall and Daley Plaza.
The Chicago Pedway provides a year round haven from the weather. Its corridors meander beneath more than 40 downtown blocks, including its newest section east of Michigan Avenue. Equipped with shops, restaurants and public art, it connects street level hotels, stores and public buildings.
Construction to create the Pedway began in 1951 with a section linking what are now the Red line and Blue line subway stations. In 2003 the Pedway portions east of Michigan Avenue were connected to the main walkways through the Millennium Park Metra station, allowing complete access from the Thompson Center all the way to Swissotel and Lake Shore East Park.
Most recently, a stretch running below Randolph Street between Wabash and State Streets received an upgrade. The Chicago Cultural Center, Macy's and Navy Pier's Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows have cooperated to create a spectacular, attention-grabbing permanent display of twenty-two American Victorian stained glass windows.
From underground, brave visitors and their Chicago Greeters pop up, warmed and ready to head outside. When else but winter can you see "The Bean" against a backdrop of gently falling snow?