Chicago from space

Another fantastic photo (click to enlarge) taken from the International Space Station and appearing yesterday on Commander Chris Hadfield’s Facebook page. I still can’t get over social media in space!

His caption:

Chicago, a bright spot on the tip of Lake Michigan, glowing through the clouds.


h/t: SGM


  1. Dave
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    For me as a European, to see a major city laid out in such a regular grid pattern looks quite strange, almost “unnatural”! That’s a consequence of being used to cities that have grown in situ over centuries or millennia, and where the building work of different ages is overlain and intermingled into, in many cases, a chaotic mess. Your North American cities are obviously products of Intelligent Design, whereas ours bear the clear stamp of Evolution!

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      and of voracious Victorian despoilers.

    • daveau
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      It’s not quite as regular as it looks, but it was designed by Daniel Burnham in a grid with eight blocks to the mile, and every 1/8 of a mile is numbered by 100. 0 N/S, 0 E/W is State and Madison. Jerry is roughly 5800 S, and 1400 E, while I am around 3200 N and 6000 (sixty-hunnert in Chicagoese) W. So, we are a long way apart, but by no means anywhere near as far as you can get and still be in Chicago.

      The diagonal streets originally had trolley tracks running down them, all radiating from city center. Unfortunately, this part of the plan means that it is still difficult to get anywhere without going downtown first.

      • Notagod
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Interesting design information but, it leaves me wondering what 160000 W. would be in hunnerts?

        • DrBrydon
          Posted March 25, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink


      • George
        Posted March 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Slight irregularity on the South Side. Roosevelt Road (1200 South) is one mile south of Madison, Cermak Road (2200 South) is two miles south, and 31st Street (3100 South) is three miles south. Then it goes back to 800 per mile. So 55th Street (aka Garfield Boulevard), the northern boundary of the University of Chicago, is six miles south of Madison, not 55/8 or almost seven miles.

  2. E.A. Blair
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    I remember once reading a description of Chicago as “…a wart on the scrotal sac of Lake Michigan…”

    I lived there through the 1990s and would like to go back.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      I don’t know. It looks to me like the wart is on a slightly different bit of male anatomy.

      • gbjames
        Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        and… sub.

  3. daveau
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Hey, look! There’s my house!

  4. Matt
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen that view (or similar) from airplanes many times.. Love the look of a city from on high. It puts all your problems in perspective….very small

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I no longer live in Chicago, but when I did and would travel, I loved flying into Chicago at night. The city is so beautiful with its carpet of lights, and the loop rising out of it almost like a miniature. I love flying over towns and cities in general at night — the pattern of lights is so interesting, you never knew how many baseball fields there are — but Chicago is something special, because I can pick out places I know.

    Conversely, flying into Chicago during the daytime you might be surprised at the amount of greenery (at least some of the time), and that the city’s motto is Urbs in Horto — city in a garden.

  6. emydoidea
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Ick, light pollution. I always loved the idea of a futuristic society so advanced that you can’t tell it’s there from space.

  7. JBlilie
    Posted March 25, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Nice clouds!

  8. George
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    You can tell exactly where the city limits of Chicago are. It may be the most illuminated city in the world. There are street lights in the alleys. In residential neighborhoods, there are six or more streetlights per block. In the suburbs, there is one or two. In the city, you do not need to turn your headlights on at night. They add nothing to visibility.

    Mike Royko said that the original Mayor Daley (Richard J.) was afraid of the dark and wanted to turn the city into the world’s biggest nightlight.

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