Monday, December 10, 2007

The simple joys of abandoned train tracks

I thought I'd post a few shots from back when the sun still shone in Chicago. Does anyone remember that? I'm sure it's been at least a week since it was sunny, and I'm getting impatient to go take photos on a day when everything's not gray/white. But first: Happy (first-ever) Jane Addams Day, actually Illinois' first-ever day commemorating a woman. I still haven't read much about her; in part because I'm so depressed thinking that the entire neighborhoods she used to assist, and all but one building of her settlement house, were wiped out by the creation of UIC. I think I'll finally read my Arcadia book about her. (I've got so many Arcadia books, it's about time I added them to the links list.)

First, I need to finish the recent photo/essay book about Harold Washington. I'm also thrilled the bestselling Sin in the Second City is FINALLY available at the library; it was too popular to get for ages.

Kind of a blah day with the weather, and a sleepy volunteer shift at CAF, and my dismay that the two newly-closed-for-repairs Brown Line stations are now covered in graffiti (yeah, it's not like anyone COLLECTS those old station signs, right?), and not eating enough for breakfast and taking too long to get lunch. Oh, I didn't mean the previous post to imply that anyone EXPECTED me to give up coffee/caffeine (the person in question wanted to clarify). I'm still doing okay, still having too many Cocoa Trios at Borders (and the hot chocolate at A Taste of Heaven is absolutely mind-boggling).

But I'm happy I bought bottles of glogg two places today. A good, fresh bottle at the Foster/Clark liquor store, and a scary dusty cheap bottle at my local liquor store. This store tends to have a lot of "vintage" items, and I don't mean fine old wine. I mean Goya products from several label designs ago. The clerk looked closely at the bottle. I thought she was going to say "We can't sell this, it's old and dangerous!" but no, she was just looking for an indication of how much tax it required.

Oh, right, the photos. So far: a mysterious West Side former factory building that seems to be partially in use. Right across from it, a delightful find, an old Sears Roebuck building I didn't know about, a ways from their former corporate headquarters (Homan Square). The windows are all blocked up so you couldn't exactly get photos with natural light. If you were to find a way in. I confined my trespassing to the tracks and trestle area, and discovered the frightening find in photo #3.

Then an old train sign (No Clearance for Man, so perhaps I was safe) on abandoned tracks next to this factory that's actually in use. And a Tony Peraica campaign sign meeting an undignified end. Now, I didn't care for some of his beliefs, that's for sure, but that was a nasty campaign, with Todd Stroger playing up Peraica's social conservatism as a way to deflect from the Stroger family problems (um, nepotism, for one). But I don't feel fully qualified to discourse on the disaster of Cook County politics, so, moving on...

Sometimes it takes so little to make me happy: train tracks (this is in another place, and now that I recall, they weren't abandoned, so I only walked by them), arrows, and big industrial buildings. It's the one in the last photo, still in use. These last two happen to be right across from the ruined foundry I already discussed. I love wandering the West Side on a sunny day. I discovered a number of other abandonments that day and checked out some I already knew. Didn't get in anywhere, and I lost my CTA pass (with 4 good days left on it!) and had to use nearly everything in my wallet to buy a new one, but otherwise, it was swell.
There's a certain well-known stretch of abandoned tracks I haven't walked in an insanely long time, and haven't ever explored alone. It's far less risky than trespassing in abandoned buildings, but I'm also a little nervous because it's so visible, going through several "good" neighborhoods. Perhaps soon. I've never done it in winter, but I'd be happy to, if the sun EVER SHINES AGAIN.

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