Perhaps you've walked along the lakefront and thought about taking the nearly 1,000 mile journey all the way around it. Nonfiction writer and journalist Rich Cohen recently did the trip and wrote about his experience for the New York Times. In his essay, Cohen reveals that the trek is something that he has thought about since his childhood years in north suburban Glencoe. Starting from downtown Chicago, which Cohen refers to as "the capital of Lake Michigan," the writer continues down towards the South Shore and over through to the industrial sprawl of Indiana. Before departing, he crashes at the Drake Hotel for an evening and then spends an afternoon at Oak Street Beach, which he dubs as "the best urban beach in the world." In pondering about the differences between the city's north and south sides, Cohen comes to a conclusion that there truly are two sides to Chicago:
North Side and South Side. Skyscraper and grain elevator. Lake shore and slaughterhouse. Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park. Chicago is multifaceted, made up of innumerable stories and populations, but it really has just two sides — front and back. The journey takes the author through several post-industrial towns that, like many rustbelt towns, have experienced substantial decay over the decades. The trip goes as such:
Downtown Chicago → South Shore → Michigan City → Benton Harbor → St. Joseph. → Ludington → Traverse City → Petoskey → Horton Bay → Mackinac Island → Manitowoc → Milwaukee → Glencoe
Instead of circling the lake entirely on land, Cohen hops on a ferry at Ludington, Michigan and continues the journey in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Cohen's next major stop is in Milwaukee, where he stays at the Pfister Hotel in the heart of downtown. The next day, he strikes out on the tail leg of the trip and stops in his hometown of Glencoe for some reflection. While his hometown has changed, the lake has remained the same and offers a sense of nostalgia and security.
·From Chicago to Mackinac Island, a Tour of Lake Michigan [New York Times]