Harlem in Chicago?

September 26, 2010

“There’s a Harlem in Chicago, too?”  — The words of an observant reader last week. Yes, indeed, there is a Harlem in Chicago…Harlem Avenue…also known as Harlem.

I think it is time I introduce you to the streets of Chicago.

Harlem in Chicago is not a neighborhood but a street that runs through the city. It is known as Harlem because Chicago does not believe in streets vs. avenues (or any other identifier for that matter). Streets are simply known by their names.

Chicago is a grid with Madison and State as its axis. Madison runs east to west. State runs north to south. They intersect, not at the center of the city, but in the heart of downtown. Everything north of Madison has a North address. Everything south of Madison has a South address. Similarly, everything east of State has an East address, and everything west of State has a West address.

With this in mind, you might think Chicago is a rather simple place to learn. Giving directions or finding your way around should be easy. On the contrary, my friends. The city built this grid system over old Native American trails that run on the diagonal.

If you are suddenly picturing an intersection the shape of an asterisk, welcome to my world! Now, you see why learning the language of a new place can be so difficult, but being the eternal optimist (ha!), I like to think of it as an adventure…an adventure that just might take me to a place in Chicago called Harlem.

Word of the Week: Intersection

Word to the Wise:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Disclaimer: The author of this blog makes no claims that the Harlem in Chicago is similar to Harlem in New York. In fact, she didn’t even mention New York. Unless, of course, you count this disclaimer, in which she has mentioned New York 2, er, 3 times now.

References:  My street-smart husband


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