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Promontory Park in Chicago, my favorite place and the place where Michelle and
Barack Obama supposedly first kissed. Photograph © Stephen Marc.
Trying to choose and/or identify a single location as "My Place" was more challenging than it should be. I have always been a wanderer, going from place-to-place to visit family, attend college (near Los Angeles and Philadelphia), to photograph, or just to entertain and satisfy my curiosity. Although I grew up in Chicago, Champaign, Illinois, has always been my home-away-from-home. I also spent significant time in Michigan at the family farmhouse and for summer camp; frequently visited Cape May, New Jersey; and made numerous road-trips as a member of a family defined by the automobile.

So, after all that, the place I have selected to share is in my old backyard: Chicago's Promontory Point, locally known as "The Point." It is a community hang-out located in the neighborhood where I attended high school and is easily within walking distance from where I lived for most of my adult life before I moved to Arizona. This was a park that, in my time, was a place where everybody could go, which was, and is, not something to be taken for granted.

Promontory Point is not just my place, but it a City of Chicago Park District jewel in Burnham Park on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is in the Southside neighborhood of Hyde Park, which I always think of as the University of Chicago's village, with a view of the downtown Chicago skyline to the north and to the south the high-rise apartment buildings of South Shore and the steel mills of southeast Chicago and Gary, Indiana.

"The Point" is only a few blocks away from the Museum of Science and Industry and the Midway, two significant landmarks remaining from the 1893 World's Fair. From my high school years, I remember the removal of the fenced-in military installation that housed radar towers, making "The Point" much more beautiful and inviting.

Entering "The Point" through a Lake Shore Drive underpass almost has the ambiance of a giant seashell: often accompanied by the beat of music, the echoed voices of other visitors, and the muted background sounds of the streets. The emergence into the park is like stepping into a different world where you can feel the change of the seasons, leaving behind the business of the day and the hustle of the streets. Just don't forget to look both ways before crossing the bike path and avoid tripping over the dogs heading to rehydrate at the canine-friendly fountain after a heavy day of play and the ambitious attempts to mark every tree.

Even though I no longer live in Chicago, at least I know "The Point" is still there. When I go back to the city, it is still a special place that I stop to visit; where on a beautiful summer day I confirm that I must be living right, after finding an almost impossible place to park the car. Sometimes I find old friends; if not, I make new ones or just appreciate the moment by myself.

Copyright © 2020 Stephen Marc. All rights reserved.



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