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A city of gangsters, dance and happy people: a great trip to Chicago

What do we imagine when we hear Chicago? Gangsters and Al Capone? The era of jazz? The first skyscrapers? Chicago blues? Yes, of course, there is no escape from these associations. But what does a city like Chicago do with them? He grows something new out of them, creates new directions in music and dance here, again surprises with unusual architecture, tells "Voice of America".

Photo: Voice of America video frame

The name "Chicago" is derived from the local Illinois word shikaakwa ("shikaakva"), which means "wild leek". Chicago is not shy about these associations. Each time the bitter bow that fate presented him with it, he readily accepted and continued to live and delight.

At various times, Chicago was considered the literary, dance, musical and architectural capital of America. A city with a difficult biography that constantly overcomes something. His motto is: “I can.” Landing, but not squat. By the way, it was in Chicago that the first skyscraper appeared - the building of the insurance company, in which there were only 10 floors. And now here and a hundred do not surprise anyone.

This is one of the tallest skyscrapers in Chicago - John Hancock. On the 94th floor, visitors are offered a little “fly” over the city, slightly “falling out” of the window. This building was built in 1968, it has 457 meters, 100 floors, it is the fourth tallest in Chicago, the eighth tallest in the United States and has long been considered the second tallest in the world.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Looking at the layout of Chicago in the new building of the architectural center, it is hard to believe that once this city was burned to the ground. And the "utter" here is not a hyperbole at all. Chicago became the center of architecture, in fact, thanks to the great fire in 1871. Then the whole city had to be rebuilt, and very quickly. Everything in Chicago is somehow related to that fire, says city historian Judy Parker.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

“Everything here was wooden. Buildings, streets, and even sidewalks, ”says the expert. “Because there was marshland, you could ride a horse and fall down your neck.”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

By the way, it was during a big fire that a phenomenon was born that we would now call fake news - fake news. The local journalist simply came up with the news that the fire started after a cow knocked down a kerosene lamp in a barn of a local Irish-born woman.

Judy Parker is sure that it was the fire that tempered Chicago and made it so strong. It can not be compared with other cities.

“I lived in New York. New York is how you take it all (shows around) and squeeze it, and cut off the lake, ”says Judy.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Lake Michigan is so huge that even the main pier here is called sea. In these waters still find equipment from the Second World War. After the defeat in Pearl Harbor, it was here that they arranged a training base for training American naval pilots. During the war years, 15 thousand military pilots were trained here. Historians say there are still more than 100 aircraft at the bottom. And on the lake for several years as a museum exhibit stood the legendary U-505 submarine.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

If you go to the Chicago Museum of Science, you can literally make a huge discovery. Because there is an oceanic German submarine from the Second World War. U-505 was considered unsinkable. She made 12 combat exits and sank 8 ships, and then was captured by American destroyers. The operation in June 1944 was top-secret. Capturing a submarine was important in order to gain access to German encryption keys. On U-505, in particular, they found the Enigma cryptographic machine, cipher tables and secret logs - all this helped in deciphering the negotiations of German submarines.

“The most important find was not Enigma at all,” says Ed MacDonald, an associate at the Museum of Science and Industry. - There the code was quickly hacked. Important was the acoustic torpedo. Such torpedoes were fired at moving targets, they reacted to the noise of the propellers. After that, we were able to develop protection against such torpedoes. "

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Photo: Voice of America video frame

U-505 was escorted to Bermuda, and members of the German crew were sent to a secret prison camp in Louisiana. The operation participants were not allowed to talk about it. The ban was lifted only when the war ended. An important trophy for the Americans was the very equipment of the submarine - advanced for that time.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Simple Chicagoans helped move the submarine to the museum in 2005. Private individuals raised money for this complex operation, calculated to a millimeter.

“When we transported the boat to the museum, we invited the participants of the operation and those who were captured then to a joint dinner,” says MacDonald. “Of course, everyone’s eyes were wet.”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

The submarine stood on the shore of Lake Michigan for almost half a century. But leaving her out in the open was dangerous - she could hardly withstand the changing Chicago weather, which even has a saying: “If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait 10 minutes and it will change.”

They say that Chicago owes its weather to its addiction to thick pizza. Here in this old house on Ohio Street in the early 1940s, the famous Chicago thick pizza was born, which looks like a pie with high edges. Two business partners initially thought of a Mexican restaurant, but then settled on pizza and came up with something like a Mexican enchilada. Until the late 1970s, there were only two establishments in Chicago that served thick pizza: UNO and DUE. Now such restaurants in the city are literally at every step.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Sean Asbra, the manager of one of Chicago's pizzerias, has been working in this area for 26 years and says that the popularity of thick pizza in Chicago is associated not only with the harsh climate.

“Chicago was a working city many years ago,” says Asbra. - And the Midwest has never been rich. People just had to come here to feed their family. The working people, blue-collar workers, it was important for them to find something affordable. ”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

They are experimenting more and more with the popular Chicago dish - they make pizza for vegetarians, pizza without gluten.

Emily Darland, the owner of a food truck with the medicinal name "Pharmacy Around the Corner," also dreams of switching Chicagoans to healthier diets.

“A pharmacy means we buy the freshest on local farms, and not just fresh, but organic,” says Emily. - People are not used to thinking that there can be healthy food in the food truck. For them, it is more likely food for pleasure. ”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Truck is a very popular feeding point in America. The path to the restaurant business, many begin that way. Emily launched this project with her friend. They spent 75 thousand dollars on the opening of the Pharmacy. Emily says that food trucks are not easy in Chicago: there are a lot of parking difficulties. But the hardest thing is to change the habits of buyers.

Chicago has so many associations that seemingly have historically stuck to it tightly. But in fact, this city does not want to freeze in one role and eagerly accepts all those who are ready to bring some fresh stream to its life. If dancing is not just jazz!

This dance is called "hiplet" - a mixture of ballet and hip-hop, or hip-hop on pointe shoes. Hiplet was born here in Chicago. Its author is choreographer Homer Hans Bryant, a dancer himself in the past.

“I wanted it to be fun,” says Bryant. - I used to do something like rap ballet. And I began to think: hip-hop, ballet ... - hiplet! ”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Homer's dream has always been to make ballet available to girls from African American and Asian families. And the experiment was a success. The dance hybrid turned out to be so successful that it brought the dancers millions of views on the Internet, huge popularity and thousands of people who want to learn how to dance the same way.

“I don't care about either height or size,” says Bryant. - In classical ballet, everything is different: the ballerina should be thin, anorexic, with a long neck, thin arms. Everything is completely different in our hiplet. ”

Dancers compare a hiplet with a chemical experiment when mixing elements gives an unexpected reaction.

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Photo: Voice of America video frame

In the legendary Chicago Green Mill jazz club they dance like 100 years ago when the era of jazz began - this place was a cult. The oldest jazz club in which Al-Capone loved to be, is working now - a kind of hello to the famous Parisian "Moulin Rouge".

David Cemilo became the owner of the Green Mill 30 years ago and made the place that had desolate great again.

“There was a hot spot. Everything has been dismantled, ”says Jemilo. “Drug addicts were literally lying on the floor: when people entered, they had to step over them.”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

It was not so easy to restore the Green Mill to its former glory. But now everything is different: there is a line of musicians here, and in the evenings everything is packed with visitors. True, David came up with something new. Now here is not only dancing, but also a poetic slam: his homeland is also Chicago. Otherwise, everything is as before. There is no Internet, cash desks are not computerized, phones with disks. It all works.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

However, if tourists come here, they often ask not about jazz, but about Al-Kapon. David gives an interview exactly at the place where the famous gangster liked to sit - because he could keep both doors in sight.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

It was not allowed to enter and exit while Al-Capone was in the institution. The gangster himself could leave the Green Mill at any time through a network of secret tunnels. It was on them that in the era of prohibition illegally delivered alcohol.

“Here and now there is a secret exit to the street,” says David. “But I cannot show you it.” Then they will rob me again! ”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

The figure of Al Capone is still of such interest that even special tours were launched in Chicago to places of his military glory. Craig Elton was once a radio presenter and conducted a children's program, and now has been retrained as a “gangster”. Craig is preparing a bus for the next tour.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

It is interesting that when Russian-speaking tourists come on this excursion, they immediately recognize the bus, and all because it can be seen in the movie "Brother-2", the action of which partially unfolds precisely in Chicago.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

By the way, it was thanks to Al-Capone that the expression “laundering money” appeared. The proceeds of crime were to be spent somehow, without attracting the attention of special services. For this, Al Capone has built a huge network of laundries. It was difficult to track the number of customers in them, and therefore you could write any income you like.

After the tour, Craig meets us in a suit and with a violin case in his hands - this is a familiar accessory for all gangsters, weapons were hidden in a case.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Unfortunately, street shooting in Chicago did not become history. In August 2019, only one weekend in the city, 12 people were killed and more than 60 were injured. Street gangs in disadvantaged areas in the south and east of the city, the concentration of poverty and the availability of weapons: the current surge in violence is more likely explained by social factors. They are trying to answer the question of how to solve the problem of street crime in the criminal laboratory of the University of Chicago.

“There was one graduate who, after defending a dissertation, was robbed and shot, he died of injuries,” says Kimberly Smith, research project manager at the University of Chicago. “I think this made the university realize that something needs to be done with what is happening around the campus.”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

The university laboratory collaborates with the Chicago police and community organizations from disadvantaged areas. With the help of big data technology and special computer programs, they are trying to determine the specific points where the shooting takes place. This helps police respond faster and pay more attention to security. The result is already there: in the Inglewood area, where the system worked the longest, the number of shooting incidents decreased by 38%.

There are a lot of youth in street gangs. Over the past 20 years, 33 people were arrested in the city, the youngest - 000 years. However, for young residents of Chicago, the life scenario may be completely different.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

When this Fix Your Kicks shoe repair shop just opened, visitors couldn't figure out where the owner was. No one could believe that the owner of the business could be 19. Now Joshua Marina is already 21. In these two years, he managed to become a local celebrity. They write about him in the newspapers and show him on television. It all started with the fact that he decided to repair sneakers in order to earn extra money. The main inspirers of Joshua are his father and grandfather, a family of hereditary shoe makers.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

They come to the workshop not only to turn old sneakers into a work of art. The most expensive order sounds very prosaic: to clean 66 pairs of shoes. The workshop already six months after the opening began to bring good income. In a year, Joshua plans to open courses and teach young people - for example, high school students.

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Photo: Voice of America video frame

It was the young activists who launched the “Music Against Violence” public campaign in Chicago several years ago. Performers of rap and hip-hop, musicians and dancers believe that art can make young people lay down their arms. Unfortunately, activists themselves sometimes become victims of street shooting. In September, a 19-year-old performer of the foot-dance, who was born on Chicago streets in the 1990s, was shot dead.

Photo: Voice of America video frame

Photo: Voice of America video frame

“This is an incredibly strong, powerful city,” says creator of the footwear Caveyn Space. “It might even scare.” But it is so. They want to be the best here. But I think this: why should anyone prove something? Why compete? You just have to live, enjoy life. There are a lot of strong-minded people who do not want to let anyone down. ”

Photo: Voice of America video frame

“Three adjectives about Chicago?” Outstanding. Glad. A must visit, ”says Ed MacDonald of the Museum of Science and Industry.

“Chicago is strong. Chicago is powerful. Chicago is fun. Very funny! ”- the owner of food truck Emily Darland is sure.

“Chicago is one of the best cities,” adds Homer Hans Bryant, a hiplet creator. “And it's clean, very clean.” This is a city of happy people. ”

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