Friday, July 25, 2008

The Pedway

Downtown Chicago has this really neat system of pedestrian tunnels called “Pedways” that cover forty square blocks and connects lots of buildings with lots of other Pedways.

It’s a maze down there and can often be confusing. Above ground, it’s pretty easy to negotiate your way around the city. You just look for the Sears Tower, point to it, and then ask someone for directions.

You can’t do that in the Pedways. The landmarks like the Sears Tower aren’t visible and everyone down there walks really fast, trying to catch a commuter train or a subway. But it’s easy to get lost. I think there are probably folks down there that have been trying to find their way out since the early 70s.

Tourist brochures say that the Pedways are very useful during inclement weather.

To me, “inclement weather” means “any temperature above 75 degrees” so I often use the Pedway to go from my apartment to work and back. I only have to be outside just to walk across the river. From there, I can dart into a subway, pay $1.75 and walk down a tunnel to the next subway station where I can dart into the air-conditioned Pedways. I feel sort of like a hamster in a Habitrail, but at least I’m out of the heat.

There are lots and lots of shops down in the Pedways. All kinds of shops. Strangely enough, there are shoe-shine places about every fifty feet down there. Do people need their shoes that shiny all the time?

I would never have my shoes shined by a shoe-shiner. First of all, everyone walking by me in the Pedway would (God forbid) look at me as I was perched on the shoe-shine pedestal. And also, it would feel really weird to have some poor shoe-shine guy being all subservient at my feet. Also, what do you tip the shoe-shine guy? What if it was a woman?
I'd hate that.

If I were blind, I could easy find my way around just by the smells alone. On my way to work, there are at least two tunnels that smell like Italian roast coffee (Starbucks). Then as I near the underground train station, there’s the unmistakable odor of diesel fumes. However, all that is soon blasted away by the Cinnabon place (I don’t know how they make something smell THAT good).

As I get close to work, there's the Au Bon Pain that stinks. I think it might be their Asiago cheese bagels that make that tunnel smell like really bad foot odor. . . .
. . . No. I'm being kind. . .
the morning smell of Au Bon Pain smells like someone doesn't know how to clean their butt. The moment I hit that "nasty butt-smell", I know I'm about to arrive in the lobby of the Aon Center in downtown Chicago.

I see that the temperature outside is nearing 80 degrees. That means I’ll be in the Pedway.

Here's a Pedway map if you're ever in Chicago


At 4:58 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

You and I have very different uses for the pedway. Below 50 degrees?--yes, pedway. Above 50 degrees--even to 100 degrees?--no, pedway.


At 12:14 AM , Blogger Speck said...

Ohhh...Washington DC has these too. It was weird shopping in an underground Safeway. I walked about a mile underground from the basement of my apartment building to the grocery store.

It was a whole underground city down there. Kinda had a post-apocalyptic vibe except for the CVS Pharmacy on every corner.


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