As a new student at Booth, there’s a lot to figure out. Classes, meeting people, the classroom level in the Harper Center – each of these has a learning curve that takes time and energy away from other important things. Things like figuring out what’s actually available to eat at Gleacher or on campus, where to get a “frosty beverage” after class, and how to get around Chicago. To that end, I’ve created a guide focusing on the things at Booth and in Chicago that any Booth student, or person considering attending Booth, should know about. Almost exclusively, these are things that I wish I had known about sooner.
Where to Eat
The food trucks
Every weekday at lunchtime, there is a gathering of food trucks on the UChicago campus. To get there from Booth, you walk north through the quad, and the trucks line up the road on the other side of the quad near the bookstore. The trucks vary from day to day, and there’s always a good selection of different cuisines.
Right around the corner from Harper, the Reynolds club is the University of Chicago’s student center and houses a food court with a number of chain restaurants. You can find pizza, burritos, Indian cuisine, sandwiches, and sushi, among others. Plus, with its Gothic architecture, you feel like you’re eating lunch at Hogwarts.
Divinity School Café
Located off the main student quad in the basement of the Divinity School, this student-run café often features food for sale from neighborhood eateries.
Fidelity Building Cafeteria
The cafeteria at Gleacher is only open evenings and weekends, but during the week there is actually another food option in the building. Gleacher is connected to the adjacent Fidelity building through a pedway (the stairs of which descend from the river side of the Gleacher lobby), and when you head along it you will quickly come to the cafeteria. It’s tasty, reasonably priced, and has food specials which change often. The cafeteria’s primary purpose is to provide lunch meals to office workers however, so it is only open during the day on weekdays (basically, when the Gleacher cafeteria is closed!).
Where to Drink
The Midway Club
Many Booth students are surprised to discover that there is actually a bar on the 5th floor of the Gleacher center. The Midway Club has amazing views of the river, a nice atmosphere, and often runs drink specials. It is open to students (unless there is a private event), and the bartenders are friendly.
While the pub in the basement of Ida Noyes is open to all students at the University of Chicago, no one is closer to it than Booth. It is right across the Summer Garden from Harper, through the doors and down the stairs. There is a one-time annual fee of $10, but it’s worth it. Plus, there are often graduate student mixers held there, which are a great way to meet UChicago students from some of the other graduate programs.
How to get around
After a few weeks most Booth students intimately know the Metra, the train which runs from downtown to Hyde Park, and have the schedule times set to memory. It’s also fairly easy to call an Uber or flag a cab (should we miss the train). However, Chicago is a city with a lot of ways to get around.
There are CTA busses that run to and from campus from both the Loop (6 and 2) and South Loop (192). They’re cheaper than the train and run at different times than the Metra so it’s often faster to catch the bus depending on when you’re leaving. There are several apps to help keep track of the bus schedule on any type of phone you happen to have.
While Metra is still separate, both the busses and the elevated trains (CTA) now use one common pass, called the Ventra card. It’s pretty easy to use, and worth picking one up so all you need to do is tap when you get on the bus or train.
The pedway is definitely something we wish we had known about earlier. Most of the buildings downtown in the area known as the Loop are connected underground by passageways called the pedway. This is a lifesaver when the temperatures outside are a little lower than is pleasant. The pedway runs as far east as Aqua and the Lakeshore East buildings, as far North as the Michigan Ave Bridge, and it also connects to Millennium Station. Even better, there are shops and restaurants in the pedway, which are actually quite convenient to the apartment buildings downtown.
A variant of this article has also appeared in the Chicago Business newspaper, the student-run newspaper of the Booth full-time program. Check it out: www.chibus.com