The trip has come to an end. We learned so much about Chicago and met a lot of amazing planners and organizers for Chicago. From this trip we have learned about the struggles in Chinatown and the amazing organizations that helps the community with all their needs. We learned about the big Chicago fire and how all the sky raises were built by many different architects.
It has been a long trip and we had to wake up at 4AM to catch our flight back to San Francisco! Can’t wait to go on another trip soon.
- Kelly Ma and Phoebe Fong
-Living in Chicago Chinatown-
The experience of living in Chicago Chinatown is quite different from living in SF Chinatown.
Chicago Chinatown has more tall buildings while the ones in SF is under the restriction of
zoning laws. Moreover, Chicago Chinatown is more like a place that people go there for
restaurants instead of living, which there are less grocery stores and parks. The Chicago
Chinatown has a variety of food and most of the restaurants open until midnight. Therefore, we
could hang out and get snacks together at late night. I also noticed the population in Chicago
Chinatown are mainly young adults from northern China, whilst SF Chinatown has many seniors
from southern China. Such difference explains why the Chicago Chinatown is the only growing
Chinatown in the U.S. Our group met Chinese American Service League(CASL), which is a non
profit that provide various services to the Chinese community, such as childcare, job training,
retirement center and etc. Their services benefit a broad age group from infants to elderly,
which was very impressive to see how an organization expand their audience to the whole
community. It was amazing to see how organized CASL is, and their services are assisting
Chinese in different circumstances to gain a better living.
Traveling in Chicago, we used the train system for most of the time because it was the most
efficient way for us to reach to the places we visited. Also, we learned that public transportation
system is the most sufficient and dense in Chicago Downtown area. We had a meeting with
Chicago Department of Transportation and it was inspiring to see how they engaged with
different communities and educated people about pedestrian safety through hosting events in
their neighborhoods. During the meeting, we also participated in an activity for designing our
ideal streets. It was an interactive exercise to visualize the elements of a safe street such as
expanded sidewalks, traffic lights for bikes and bus-only lanes. I think it is a really engaging
activity that we can gather feedbacks and ideas from people about their vision of a complete
- Kelly Ma
During our Chicago Trip, I learned and noticed many things that differ from our city
and their city. I noticed that one of the main streets in Chicago Chinatown was very
chaotic, all the lanes were not very visible and very hard to drive in. We met a group
named Chicago Department of Transportation and created our ideal street, we then
talked about how we can improve current streets. Chicago Chinatown is very different
compared to San Francisco because they have allowed large food chains to open up
like Starbucks and Meet Fresh. Their Chinatown is more of an area for people to go eat
and leave compared to San Francisco where people actually live in Chinatown. Chicago
has 50 wards and 50 aldermans while San Francisco has 11 districts and 11
supervisors, that shows how small San Francisco is compared to Chicago. We took a
tour of Argyle St and I noticed how the curb is merged into the street when crossing and
I haven’t seen many in San Francisco. Overall experience of Chicago was great, I got to
experience what transportation was like there and had a lot of fun. I felt a lot more
comfortable walking around Downtown because of how much space there is compared
to San Francisco’s Downtown.
- Ivan Chen
As we reflect back to our trip, Chicago has a safer and more advanced transportation system compared to San Francisco. Chicago does a better job on pedestrian education, advocating for pedestrian safety, and prioritizing pedestrian safety. One of the organizations we met, Chicago Version Zero, talked about their advocation of pedestrian safety. They visited different communities, age groups, and ethnic groups, to educate the important tips for pedestrian. Even though San Francisco Vision Zero did have posters on the buses and streets to educate people, they seemed less proactive compared to Chicago.
Even though SF isn’t as proactive as Chicago in traffic safety, they have implemented new and innovative programs in their transportation system. San Francisco provides a discounted fare for youth, seniors and people with disabilities. This promotes using public transportation over cars. Many people prefer riding public transportation rather than taking a car because it’s more sustainable and eco friendly. San Francisco has one of the densest populations. If more people use public transportation it could help improve the ecosystem.
- Diana Li
The trip of Chicago is one that I will never forget, I had such a great learning experience. From waking up early for meetings to observing the city, every moment of it was exciting and unforgettable. Through this one week trip in Chicago, I learned so much about Vision Zero and the history of Chinatown in Chicago. I learned about one of the ways that Vision Zero Chicago plan on being successful in this plan in which they would encourage Chicagoans to take buses instead of driving to decrease fatalities. One of the many things I noticed about Chicago is that the transportation is very efficient. The center of the city had many buses and trains, so the wait wasn’t long. I payed very close attention to my surroundings and noticed that the voice recordings on the CTA buses didn’t have different languages. I became more aware of my surroundings in SF because there are things I took for granted such as how the variety of languages the voice recordings play really make it way easier for people who don’t speak English to get around. Behind the great impression of the city and the transportation, I learned about the improvements the city plan on making and how they are working to fix some of their underlying transportation problems. If it weren’t for the informational meetings with people working for Chicago’s vision zero, I wouldn’t have known that one of Chicago’s problems is that the number of transportation lines isn’t actually enough since they don’t reach the outer parts of the city and they are working on adding more bus lines. Thanks to this trip, I was able to have this amazing hands on experience where I saw for myself by making it to these meetings in the city itself. I hope to be able to go back someday to see how Chicago improved or changed!
- Lina Mai
We got out of the subway and ran into the shamrock marathon. Chicago’s subway system reminds me a lot about Japan’s train system. How we get into the train, the little voice that says what stop it is and how it can transition from underground to above ground. We played real life crossy road 5 times after leaving the trains station.
The architectural tour was educational. I learned how they used to make old buildings and the different kinds of architects that helped create the city after the Chicago fire. The tour guide pointed out many buildings along the tour that had many different architectural designs. Some were perfectly symmetrical even with the sidewalk while some others were decorated from the bottom up with scary faces pointing back at you.
After lunch we went to the iconic bean. We snapped a group photo and headed to the Chicago Cultural Center. The center had the biggest tiffany glass dome in the world as well as impressive artwork and a beautiful view of millennium park. After a refreshing power nap we headed to navy pier on the 29 bus. In front of their children’s museum they had interactive exhibits where you could pull on a metal bar and it would be like a hamster wheel photo and make it into a comic strip.
The trains can transition from underground and above ground. There are multiple stations that serve as main stations where multiple lines converge and it's easier to transfer trains and the trains don’t all go the same way, they spread out to try and cover all the city.
Architectural ideas and art decoration were important to shape buildings of Chicago. Architectures started to move in to Chicago because of the world fair event held in Chicago. Architectures would come in from all over the world to see what architectures has done. Over two thousand propel would come each day to look at Chicago. Ideas were compared with others based on buildings they created. Inside the buildings the lobby is full of history of Chicago to talk about to how the building was made.
During the day, I was able to learn that Chicago is known for its hotdog. The hotdog rule was to eat hotdog without ketchup. Even without ketchup it tastes great with its own flavor.
- Nikki Wong and Lucas Chin
Our journey started at 4 AM in SFO as we arrived at our destination, Chicago Midway Airport at 12 PM after flying with Southwest Airlines.
We found that we had a lot of trouble trying to get ticket passes to take the CTA (Chicago Transportation Authority). It was very inconvenient as we couldn’t buy fourteen passes at once and we had to buy one pass at a time from the machine. The ticket pass was also different from the paper day pass that tourists get in SF, the ones in Chicago are plastic and reusable. While we were taking the Orange Line under CTA, we realized that the look of the seats and arrangement of the seats were similar to those of Metro in SF. There were two maps on the CTA train, one was the complete map of all the trains that connected through a loop and the other one was a specific map only for the Orange Line. This makes it a lot easier for people to figure out where they are at instead of being confused from looking at a map that consisted of multiple lines. When we were transferring from the Orange Line to the Red Line, we found out that there are a lot of stairs, making it difficult for people who carry suitcases and people with disabilities to get to the stations. On our way to the AirBnB, we noticed that the sidewalks and the roads were a bit wider than the ones in San Francisco. The white lines on the road meant to be indications of where to walk to cross the street and were much narrower as those in SF. There were some problematic crosswalks in which the crossing lights were blocked by electricity poles. Both of these observations are what we noticed that could affect how pedestrians cross the streets safely. We think the reason for these differences between Chicago and San Francisco is because of the major earthquake that occurred. SF had to rebuild the entire city due to the destruction, thus, the structure of our city is more modernized and more well-planned with details.
- Lina Mai, Roy Yu, Irene Tan