28.1.06

NO CONTEST.

Perhaps it's as futile as "boxers or briefs?" or "Ginger or Mary Ann?" USA Today brings us another round of "Chicago or New York?" Herewith some omitted variables. I stopped at a northwest side hobby shop to exchange some merchandise and then rode the Northwest Line downtown rather than grapple with the downtown traffic. The train I rode flips at North Western Station to become a North Line turn to Winnetka. The screen that shows the next 20 or so departures could only show the departures between 5.01 and 5.40 pm. At Union Station, there was a bit of turmoil on the Burlington side. Union Station shows its limitations when passengers clog the departure gates awaiting the departure track for delayed incoming equipment to be posted. Normally, people rush down the escalators and head straight to their trains. In New York, the departure platform lottery is a regular event. And once those trains leave, they don't have to be threaded amongst transcontinental passenger flyers, time-sensitive intermodal trains, and coal loads as does the Burlington's Dinky Parade on the triple track one authority called the world's most impressive stretch of railroad. (There is nothing in Moscow, let alone London or Tokyo or Berlin to come close.)

But I didn't go to Union Station for a night of trainspotting. There's a Robinson's Ribs in the food court. Admittedly, there's nothing in any of the Chicago termini with the cachet of the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal. On the other hand, there's nothing that says you only have to eat ribs in months that have an "r" in their names. Biological appetite satisfied, it's time to satisfy the intellectual appetite at the Central Electric Railfans' Association with a presentation on the electric boat trains of Western Michigan. (These did surprisingly well until the roads were paved with service from Grand Rapids to Michigan's west coast run, and connections to the lake steamers to Chicago and Wisconsin locations.)

At the CIVIC OPERA HOVSE, sometimes referred to as "Insull's Armchair," although that controversial power company baron was not so crass as today's noveau riche in insisting on naming rights, the gentlemen in black-tie and the ladies with ankle-length furs were arriving at the Lyric for Rigoletto. No displacing several blocks Uptown for a meaningless-mod Lincoln Center here. My path did not take me past Orchestra Hall, but I recall that the Chicago Symphony under Georg Solti well might have set the standard for the world in those days.

On the lighter side, where else can you get a salad on your hot dog?

No contest.

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