The stay-at-home city: Chicago under quarantine

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The streets weren’t vacant, and the sidewalks weren’t deserted. That was my first observation as my brother cranked the music and merged onto the highway, while outside our safe automobile bubble stretched the world under a stay-at-home order.

We were headed into the city, the identity of which should already be pretty clear if you’re from Illinois. I live in Evanston, a suburb whose geography gives unique access to and perspective on the effects of the pandemic. Evanston directly borders Chicago, but sits within easy access to very suburban and even rural areas. Forty-five minutes to an hour both into the city and out to the deep suburbs, with us smack dab in the middle.

That’s how my brother and I ended up making the inbound drive (in just half an hour!), armed with fresh eyes and a camera.

I witnessed a lot of emptiness, but also glimmers of life. From dense construction to empty train stations, from basketball hoops with the rims removed to taped off playgrounds, from neon-clad essential workers to aimless walkers with nowhere to go; peruse through this collection of photos and see what you find in the Midwest’s big stay-at-home city.

Contact Sarah Bloom at snbloom ‘at’ stanford.edu.

A man stands on the street in front of Trump Tower holding a sign that reads “Homeless Struggling to Survive Anything would truly Help. Thank You. God Bless Everyone." (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A woman stands in a shadowy doorway with a cigarette in her mouth, next to an upturned red umbrella and a spilled drink in the street.(Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A boy in a red sweatshirt and blue mask and gloves looks up at a sculpture as he pulls a suitcase behind him. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
The inside of a train station is just as empty as the turnstiles leading to it. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A man in a blue mask looks down at the ground as he crosses the middle of the street. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
The parking lot of the Lincoln Park Zoo is empty and half-heartedly blocked off, as the city skyline looks on. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Neon-clad workers in masks stand beside police blockades stopping cars from going towards the Field Museum. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Two pedestrians, one unmasked and the other with his mask pulled down under his chin, wait at a crosswalk. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A team of construction workers work in close quarters on a construction site. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A bright sign for what once was a drop off area for a school stands in front of a taped off playground. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A public bus bearing the words “Make Yourself Count” pauses at a bus stop as its masked driver adjusts their seatbelt. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A metal lion looks on solemnly in front of a banner informing that “Lincoln Park Zoo is closed.” (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A woman carrying many bags walks across the street as the L train crosses the track further behind her. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A hooded figure huddles under a blanket against a door bearing a ‘NO TRESPASSING’ panel, holding a sign that reads “please help a US army veteran in need of a little help. Have a little compassion.” (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Two CTA workers in neon vests talk as one holds a broom and the other grabs the handle of a mop. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Two police officers in blue helmets wait on horseback at the intersection of Michigan Ave and East Wacker Drive, usually one of the busiest intersections. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A fence has been put up around the entrance to Millenium Park, bearing ‘NO TRESPASSING’ and ‘Millenium Park is Closed to the Public Until Further Notice’ signs. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A billboard from the Field Museum asserts “Science Matters.” (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A masked man standing under a red umbrella checks his phone as he stands in front of a storefront that has been boarded over with plywood. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Three men on bikes ride slowly down Michigan Avenue, usually one of the busiest streets in Chicago. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
The vacant parking area of Lincoln Park Zoo sports a sign claiming “Lot Full.” (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Twin lights frame an almost traffic-less highway into Chicago. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A construction sign warns drivers to “Expect Long Delays” due to construction on the highway. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A man looks down at the floor as the doors begin to close on his almost deserted train car. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A digital sign advises absent commuters to practice social distancing at a train station. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A singular masked passenger boards a train.(Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
An unmasked man and woman talk in front of Chicago’s Bean sculpture. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
A sign in the window of a local restaurant asserts that they are open for delivery and carry-out. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
Few cars or pedestrians navigate State Street, normally one of the most packed streets in Downtown. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)
The hoop of a basketball hoop has been removed at a Chicago public park leaving only the backboard. (Photo: SARAH BLOOM / The Stanford Daily)

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Sarah Bloom '23 is the Deputy Photo Editor for Vol. 258. She is a rising sophomore from Evanston, Illinois, planning on studying Symbolic Systems and design. Contact her at snbloom 'at' stanford.edu.