Chicago getting back to normal after NATO

May 22, 2012 9:35:47 AM PDT
With the NATO summit a part of Chicago history, restrictions are being lifted and security perimeters removed.

The summit wrapped up Monday afternoon, and President Barack Obama and many other leaders left town, as did many of the protesters.

It took days to put security fences up around McCormick Place, and by Tuesday morning, they were all down, with no remaining sign of the security perimeter.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was all smiles and handshakes with South Loop commuters. During the Tuesday morning rush at the Roosevelt stop on the Red Line, he wanted to personally thank them for their patience for putting up with the transit inconveniences that the NATO summit caused.

The city is returning to a post-NATO normal.

The security fence around McCormick Place is down, concrete barricades have been removed, the no fly zone has been lifted and the Coast Guard has pulled out of Burnham Harbor. Traffic is moving again on Lake Shore Drive and the Stevenson near McCormick Place, and the CTA is running normal routes again.

"My friends and I, we just kinda stayed in the building this weekend," said Chicago resident Sheryl Larson. "We didn't really go out. If we did, we walked. We didn't drive because of all the traffic, street closures, so it's nice to get back to normal."

The Metra Electric and South Shore train stations that were closed are also open once again.

The summit's conclusion is welcome news for businesses along protest routes. One South Loop salon boarded up for days to protect its windows, but Tuesday the plywood was taken down.

The manager of Yolk restaurant on South Michigan Avenue says they decided to stay open for the two days of the summit on Sunday and Monday. While they say business was slow, it was not painful.

"We're very happy that we didn't board up, because obviously nothing happened," said Yolk manager Curtis Hager. "It was nice and quiet, nice and peaceful. We didn't want to board up because we wanted to stay inviting and open for everybody."

For South Loop residents, the end of NATO means no more headaches when it comes to parking, as restrictions in the area will be lifted late Tuesday night.

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