Beach Cities

Photographer David Kidd went with reporters to L.A. and Chicago for stories on police stations and transportation systems respectively, but ended up on the beach in both cities.
by | June 8, 2010 AT 3:00 AM

Beach in Chicago

It's a shame it took me so long to visit two of America's greatest cities. On the downward slope of middle age, I finally got my chance to spend some time in Los Angeles and Chicago for stories appearing in the July issue of GOVERNING.

I was in L.A. to photograph that city's new, architecturally significant police stations. Staff writer John Buntin and I spent two days going from precinct to precinct in search of the stunning new edifices (check out a blog post about Hollenbeck Station here.) John, a former resident of L.A., gave me just one piece of advice: "Get yourself a pair of sunglasses." I didn't, and lived to regret it. I'd seen enough movies and TV shows to know that the sun shines there all the time. But I was not prepared for the relentless solar beating.

Besides sunshine, Los Angeles is famous for its palm trees, fancy cars and beaches. But we were focused on our mission, which meant that although I saw lots of palm trees and a few fancy cars, I didn't see a beach until I got to Santa Monica on my way home. Getting to the coastal resort required a fair amount of driving. And if I wanted to feel the sand between my toes, I first had to cross a divided highway. I made my way across a pedestrian bridge and was soon sharing a sidewalk with Southern California bikers, joggers and strollers.

If you want to see a city with beautiful beaches, go to Chicago. My mission was to spend a day with staff writer Zack Patton, who was following Richard Rodriquez, the head of the city transit authority. After a day spent riding the rails in the company of Mr. Rodriquez, we decided to see the city on foot. Zach, a former resident, suggested we head toward the water.

I was not prepared for what I saw. Who knew that the city of Broad Shoulders was also a city of broad beaches? I didn't. One minute we were in a valley of skyscrapers, the next I was looking at a beach and Lake Michigan. Yes, there was a road between the buildings and the beach. But after a short walk through a tunnel, I was standing in sand, as Chicago's bikers, joggers and strollers went by.

Chicago Beach KiteIt was early June and the sky was blue and cloudless. The sun beat down and I still didn't have any sunglasses. But who knew I would need sunglasses in Chicago? We stayed for a while and I walked the beach with my shoes on, just like Richard Nixon did in Southern California. A few people were in the water, kids were running around, sunbathers were doing their thing, and a man flew a kite while flat on his back, expending the least amount of energy possible, all with the city of Chicago as a backdrop.

For my next trip I'm thinking I'll get myself a pair of sunglasses and head up to Anchorage to see what they've got to offer.

David Kidd | Photojournalist / Storyteller |