Winter in Chicago

The Bean on a wintery walk to work in the snow in Chicago.
The Bean in the snow on a wintery walk to work.

When I first told people I was moving to Chicago, everyone asked me (while looking at me in horror), “But what about the winter?!” As an avid hater of winter, I understood them questioning my survival in Chicago’s notoriously harsh winter.

Once I moved, I was surprised that Chicagoans asked the same question. “Have you been through a Chicago winter yet?” they’d sneer. Or “Just wait til winter,” they’d tease. Had I somehow been transported into Game of Thrones, where everyone constantly obsesses about the fact that, yes, winter is coming?

The Chicago River frozen in winter.
Even the Chicago River (and parts of Lake Michigan) freeze in winter.

Now in the throes of January, I’m proud to admit that winter in Chicago isn’t that bad, despite the negative wind chills and freezing temperatures. In fact, I still think the city is beautiful. Ok, so I’m told this winter has been extremely mild. But still, it’s given me a new appreciation for things like hats and ski gloves (repurposed as all-the-time gloves), and I’ve learned how amazingly warm 22 degrees feels after a week of -10 wind chills.

The ice skating rink at Millennium Park during Christmas.
The ice skating rink at Millennium Park during Christmas.

Yes, there’s a downside or two, too. It feels like everyone is in hibernation mode, myself included, and venturing out into the cold is only done when absolutely necessary. The floor-to-ceiling windows in my apartment are not as spectacular as in the summer, because they make my apartment impossible to heat. (That’s what heating blankets are for, right?)

Layers upon layers: the key to keeping warm in winter.
Layers upon layers: the key to keeping warm in winter.

And all sense of style goes out the window when going out in the cold. Luckily that applies to everyone, wearing our massive floor-length puffy coats that could easily pass for sleeping bags, paired with fur-lined hats and arctic tundra boots. I used to look at people dressed like that and laugh. Now I think “Wow, she looks so warm!”

What I’m trying to say is… Winter in Chicago is still life in Chicago, which is incredible.

Although, spring is welcome to come any day now!

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1 Comment

  • Somehow I find it surprising that winter in Chicago would be some much more extreme than winter in Salt Lake. I remember one year I was driving from LA to Salt Lake, and as soon as I passed over to the Utah border (right on top of a mountain ridge) the temperature dropped from what it had been in Arizona.

    Have you tried putting up multiple layers of curtains? I lived in Arizona for about 10 years, and keeping the summer heat out was a task and a half. I ended up with solid blinds over all the windows, then a shear curtain (or shade, someone called it) followed by a heavy, light impenetrable curtain. Having those layers up dropped the temperature in my house by about 10° in the summer, it might help you in the winter.

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