A Look at Chicago during the stay-at-home quarantine

The intersection of Monroe and LaSalle. Streets in downtown Chicago have become empty amid orders the state has taken in the fight against COVID-19.

All throughout the week, I’ve been seeing pictures of downtown Chicago, showcasing how empty the city has begun ever since the quarantine took effect.

I had to see it to believe it, so I decided to grab my car, my partner-in-crime fellow GMI-er Angelle Cortes, some cameras and take my own trip to downtown Chicago.

The first highlight on the tour was I-55.

No, really.

For the first time since ever started driving, I-55 had no traffic whatsoever. Along with I-290, I-55 is notorious for always having traffic at some point on your trip. That was not the case this time.

As we took the exit to Lake Shore Drive, we instantly noticed that there was a significantly empty road – only two other cars joined us on Lake Short Drive.

The first area we wanted to check out was the museum campus, only we couldn’t.

As it turned out, Chicago officials had blocked all entrances to the campus, in order to prevent people from doing activities in the area. This meant that popular destinations, such as Shedd Aquarium, Soldier Field, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum were inaccessible. Not that they’re open anyway.

We stayed on Lake Shore Drive and saw Buckingham Fountain. There were barriers all around the fountain and the water was shut off. Because of this, the fountain looked like it was in bad shape and as if it had not been in use for a long time. An eerie sight to see.

Other destinations we checked out include Navy Pier, the lake-front trails and Lincoln Park Zoo. All were closed and featured Chicago officers patrolling the areas to make sure people weren’t in closed areas.

We finally went into the heart of downtown Chicago, Michigan Avenue. Here, there was a surprising amount of people outside, though most were joggers getting some exercise.

We made our way to the financial district of downtown Chicago, and there I was able to see how much of an impact the quarantine really had. The scene was something straight out of an apocalyptic movie.

It was weird. It was creepy. Something felt off.

But alas, as many say, this is the new norm and it’s something we all must go through. We all need to do our part to mitigate the impact of the virus.

Cities all around the U.S. look empty. Let’s work together to bring them back to normal.

Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is now on his third year with Good Morning Illini, previously serving as director, reporter and crew member. He is also currently a digital intern for WILL, the NPR- and PBS- affiliate in Urbana and vice-president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists University of Illinois chapter. He also has his own podcast with fellow GMI-er Angelle Cortes called Just Chillin’. He brings previous experience as a features intern at The News-Gazette and as a daytime news editor at The Daily Illini. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JoseZepedaTV.